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4 Reasons Not To Avoid Taxes After Your Spouse Dies

by Laurie Washington

Have you found yourself avoiding the unwelcome task of filing your income tax returns after the death of your spouse? This is a common problem, and many family members who have lost their partner suffer the same anxiety and discomfort. But while it may be a challenge, there are many reasons to tackle the job of filing. Here are just four of the most important:

1. You Might Get a Refund. Many widowed spouses could really use the extra financial boost that a refund provides. If your family has lost a paycheck, must pay for memorial expenses, or is waiting on 'red tape' before certain funds can be released, a tax refund is a potential boon. And due to your changed financial circumstances when a spouse passes away — generally less income with more deductions or expenses — the likelihood of receiving a tax refund is higher than normal. 

2. You Can Take Control of Something. When losing a loved one, there is often little you can do about the situation. This may lead to stress, anxiety, depression, or even hopelessness. Fulfilling one task — even a boring one — helps family members take control of something. It can be a beginning of your journey forward. And you lose the added anxiety that comes with knowing that you haven't done something you really need to do.

3. You Don't Need Penalties. During this stressful time, the last thing most people need is added stress from the IRS. A failure to file taxes could trigger letters and notices to you. It may cause penalties and interest for late filing and/or late payment. It may also delay other benefits or refunds you need for the surviving family. Unless your budget is unlimited, you generally want to avoid making it harder by adding unnecessary expenses to the mix.

4. You Can Start Planning. Meeting with a tax preparer is not only about handling last year's taxes. It's also about starting to plan for the year or years ahead. The loss of a spouse and the change in filing status, income, and expenses for the surviving spouse all greatly affect your taxes. The more you know now, the sooner you can make adjustments that minimize negative impacts and maximize the positive ones. 

Certainly, making the effort and feeling strong enough to handle your income tax preparation right now may require strength. But the good effects of doing so in terms of finances and emotional closure will make it worth your while. To learn more, talk with a tax return filing service today.