Completing a tax return on behalf of someone who has died

If you're dealing with the affairs of someone who has died you'll need to settle their tax affairs up to the date of their death before you can distribute their assets. If the deceased normally completed a Self Assessment tax return, you may be asked to fill one in on their behalf.

On this page:

Do you need to complete a return?

If you're the personal representative (either an executor or administrator) of someone who has died, you should deal with their tax affairs as soon as it's practical to do so.

You may need to complete a Self Assessment tax return on behalf of the person who has died. It depends on their circumstances at the time of their death. To find out if you need to complete a tax return, contact the Bereavement Helpline. They'll send you form R27 'Reclaiming tax or paying tax when someone dies' to complete. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will tell you whether you need to complete a tax return or not. They'll send you a tax return if you need one.

Once you've completed and returned form R27, HMRC will send you a tax return if you need one, but not until the end of the tax year. You can ask for one earlier if you wish. See the section 'Getting help and advice' below for contact details.

Contact the Bereavement Helpline

Go to form R27 Reclaiming tax and paying tax when someone dies

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How to send a paper or online tax return

If you need to complete a Self Assessment tax return for the period up to the date of death, you can do this on paper or online.

Completing a paper return

You'll need form SA100. When you complete the return you need to provide the person's details such as:

  • name
  • address
  • contact details
  • details of UK savings, investments and pensions
  • reliefs you want to claim, for example pension contributions

There are also some extra pages (called supplementary pages) that you may need to complete, depending on the deceased's circumstances. For example you may need to complete extra pages if there is Capital Gains Tax to pay or if they were:

  • employed
  • self-employed (running a business)
  • a partner in a business
  • a director of a business

Follow the links below to find out more about Self Assessment tax returns and Capital Gains Tax.

Your tax return - the basics

Introduction to Capital Gains Tax

Completing an online return

You can only send a tax return online once the tax year in which the person died has ended. You can't send a tax return online for a part tax year (up to the date of death) if the tax year hasn't ended yet.

To get online, you must first tell HMRC that you are the personal representative for the person who has died. You can do this by completing form R27.

Once HMRC have updated their records, to show that you are the personal representative, you'll be able to sign up for HMRC Online Services. You'll need the 10-digit Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) of the person who has died and either their National Insurance number or postcode. You'll find the UTR on correspondence from HMRC, for example a Self Assessment Statement or tax return.

If you can't find the UTR, you can contact the Bereavement Helpline and ask for it to be posted to your home address. HMRC can't give you this information over the phone.

Contact the Bereavement Helpline

Sign up for Self Assessment Online

Find out more about Self Assessment Online

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Deadlines for sending a tax return

If you're asked to complete a tax return, you must send it back on or before:

  • 31 October after the end of the tax year if you send in a paper return
  • 31 January after the end of the tax year if you send it online

Example

Mr A died on 31 May 2014.

You complete and return form R27 in June 2014 and find out that you need a tax return.

HMRC will send you a tax return straight away to finalise the estate.

The return will cover the period from 6 April 2014 to the date of death on 31 May 2014.

You'll need to send the return back on paper by 31 October 2015 or online by 31 January 2016.

You may wish to send a tax return back earlier than the deadlines above. For example, there may be a repayment due and you'd like to settle the deceased's tax affairs during the tax year in which they died. You won't be able to send this return online if you choose to complete it before 5 April 2015.

Go to form R27 Reclaiming tax and paying tax when someone dies

Tax return deadlines and penalties - find out more

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If you have a problem completing the tax return

If you need help you can contact the Bereavement Helpline - they'll be able to provide advice on completing your tax return and give general advice about Self Assessment.

Contact the Bereavement Helpline

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What happens after you've sent in a tax return

HMRC usually sends you a Self Assessment statement for the deceased. This will show if there's any tax that needs to be paid or repaid.

HMRC sometimes makes checks into tax returns that have been sent in. If you've sent in a tax return to the date of death, HMRC will write and let you know if they need more information about the return.

If you want to know if HMRC will be making any checks into previous years' tax returns, you can write and ask them to confirm this too.

Paying the deceased's tax - find out more

Read about checks into your tax return

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Getting help and advice

Contacting HMRC

You may need help in dealing with the deceased's tax affairs or tax return, especially if you're personally bereaved. You should get in touch with HMRC as soon as it's practical. HMRC will be able to help you by talking you through what you need to do over the phone and, if necessary, can arrange a face to face meeting.

You can call the Bereavement Helpline or you can write to HMRC. You will need to know the deceased's National Insurance number or 10-digit Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number. You can find these details on correspondence from HMRC, such as a tax code or Self Assessment tax return.

Telephone or write to HMRC

Getting professional help

Dealing with someone's estate can be complex, so you might want to get professional advice from a tax adviser or solicitor. They can help you:

  • deal with the deceased's tax affairs up to the date of death
  • deal with the period after the date of death, known as the 'administration period'.
  • complete any Trust and Estate Returns that are needed for the administration period

Find a solicitor on the Law Society website (Opens new window)

Law Society of Scotland - find a solicitor (Opens new window)

Find a tax adviser at the Chartered Institute of Taxation website (Opens new window)

Institute of Chartered Accountants (Scotland) - find a tax adviser (Opens new window)

Find a chartered accountant on the ICAEW website (Opens new window)

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More useful links

What to do about tax and benefits after a death

Completing a Trust and Estate return following a death

More on bereavement (Opens new window)

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