Death may take away life but it does not take away tax liability. The IRS expects the deceased's estate to file an income tax return in the name of the deceased, signed by the executor, for the current tax-period up to and including the date of death. The deceased's medical expenses can be deducted from their income if the expenses are paid within the same calendar year. The due date of the return, whether the deceased was married or single, is the regular filing due date, which is usually April 15.

If the deceased was married, the surviving spouse would report all the income and deductions, and can usually use the married filing joint status for that year. The return would then be signed by the surviving spouse and the executor of the estate. If no executor has been appointed by the following April 15, only the surviving spouse needs to sign the return.

In some cases, the surviving spouse can use joint filing status for two years after the death of a spouse, provided the survivor has at least one dependent child and pays more than half the cost of maintaining a home for the child. Additionally, the surviving spouse must also have been eligible to file a joint return with the deceased and must not have remarried by the end of the year of death.

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