Widows / Widowers

For information on final income tax liability, see Deceased Persons - Final Liability.

This section gives an outline of the main tax exemptions and reliefs specifically for surviving spouses.

Main tax exemptions and reliefs for surviving spouses

In summary these are:

  • a total exemption from Inheritance Tax for benefits taken by the surviving spouse;
  • the special Income Tax rules that apply for the year of death;
  • if you have dependent children, the special Income Tax allowance available for the 5 tax years after the death.

These are explained in more detail below.

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Surviving spouse exemption from Inheritance Tax

If you take an inheritance from your late spouse you don't have to pay Inheritance Tax on that inheritance. The exemption is unlimited - it doesn't matter how much you inherit, it is entirely exempt. There is no necessity to claim this exemption and you don't have to fill in any Inheritance Tax forms.

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Income Tax for the year in which your spouse has died

Your Income Tax treatment for the tax year in which your spouse has died will depend on how you and your spouse were taxed before your bereavement. Your tax office will help you to do the calculations and make sure you have the right tax-free allowances. Broadly, the position is as follows:

  • if your late spouse was the "assessable spouse", i.e. the person responsible for making a joint tax return on behalf of both of you, then you will be entitled to a special increased widowed person's allowance from the date of your spouse's death up to the end of the tax year. The single person's rate band will apply for this period.
  • if you yourself were the "assessable spouse", you will continue to get the married person's allowance and married rate band for the remainder of the tax year. You will be taxable on your own income for the full tax year in which your spouse died plus your late spouse's income from the beginning of the tax year to the date of death.
  • if you were both taxed as single persons, you will get the special increased widowed person's allowance and single rate band for the year.

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Special allowance for surviving spouse with a dependent child

If you have any dependent children you may be entitled to a special income tax credit (called "widowed parent's tax credit") for the 5 years after the year of your spouse's death. You may also be entitled to the "one-parent family tax credit" for as long as you have any dependent children.

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Further Advice

Remember, let the tax office know of your spouse's death as soon as you can.

They will ask you for certain information - including the date of death, your late spouse's PPS number, and the name of the personal representative.

They will also need to make sure you are given your proper tax credits. To do this they will want to know if you have any dependent children, and if you will be receiving a pension (either from Social Welfare or from your late spouse's employer).

Don't Worry if you haven't got all the information when you are contacting the tax office, tell them as much as you know. Reference: IT 40 - Tax Treatment of Widowed Persons or Surviving Civil Partners.

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