Returns for someone who has died

You must report a death to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as soon as possible if you’re dealing with the tax affairs of someone who’s died.

HMRC will tell you if you need to fill in a Self Assessment tax return on the deceased’s behalf. If you do, they’ll send you a return form and a letter with instructions.

Contacting HMRC

If you use the Tell Us Once service you do not need to contact HMRC separately.

If you do not use the Tell Us Once service contact HMRC.

Tell HMRC the:

  • date of death
  • name and address of who to contact

You’ll also need to tell them one of the following for the deceased:

  • National Insurance number
  • Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) - you can find this on letters or payslips from HMRC
  • full address
  • last employer or pension provider’s name and address

Filling in the Self Assessment tax return

The records you’ll need for the deceased’s tax return will depend on their circumstances. You’ll usually need details of the deceased’s bank and savings accounts, for example:

  • bank statements
  • building society pass books
  • dividend vouchers
  • National Savings bonds or certificates

If the deceased was employed or receiving a pension you’ll usually need:

  • work or pension payslips
  • details of any expenses paid by the employer
  • confirmation of any state pension

You’ll need their business records if the deceased ran their own business or rented out property.

Contact HMRC’s Bereavement helpline if you need help completing a return for someone who has died or if you cannot find their records.

Sending the return

Send the completed Self Assessment form by post.

The return must reach HMRC by the date given in the letter you received with the form.

You can hire a professional (such as an accountant) to help you submit a tax return on behalf of the deceased.

Telling HMRC about the ‘administration period’

If you’re the executor or administrator of an estate you may also need to send information to HMRC for the ‘administration period’. This is the time between the day after the death and the date the estate is settled (‘distributed’).

What you need to send depends on the size of the estate, and the money that came from it during the administration period.

When you must send a tax return for the ‘administration period’

Fill in a trust and estate tax return if any of the following apply:

  • the total Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax due for the administration period was more than £10,000
  • the estate was worth more than £2.5 million at the date of death
  • the date of death was before 6 April 2016 and more than £250,000 a year came from the sale of the estate’s assets by administrators or executors
  • the date of death was on or after 6 April 2016 and more than £500,000 a year came from the sale of the estate’s assets by administrators or executors

The trust and estate tax return is only for the estate - it’s separate from the return you sent on behalf of the deceased.

Sending the tax return

To send an estate tax return, you must first register the estate online.

You must register by 5 October after the tax year you’re sending a return for. For example, if you’re sending a return for the 2019 to 2020 tax year (6 April 2019 to 5 April 2020) then you must register by 5 October 2020.

To register the estate you’ll need:

  • a Government Gateway user ID - the account needs to be registered as an organisation (you cannot use an account registered to an individual)
  • a National Insurance number (a temporary reference number will not work)

You’ll need a new Government Gateway user ID for each estate you register

You must register the estate online. Then you’ll get a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) in the post within 15 working days (21 if you’re abroad). You’ll need it to send a tax return.

Once you’ve received your UTR, you can either:

  • fill in paper form SA900 and post it to HMRC by 31 October after the tax year it applies to
  • buy software to send it electronically by 31 January after the tax year it applies to

After you’ve sent your return, HMRC will tell you how much the estate owes. You’ll need to pay the Self Assessment bill by the deadline.

If you do not need to send a tax return

You can make ‘informal arrangements’ instead. To do this, write to HMRC and tell them:

  • the Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax due for the administration period
  • the name, address, National Insurance number, and UTR of the deceased
  • your name and contact details

Send this information to HMRC’s address for PAYE and Self Assessment. You must not send tax payments with this information.

You’ll be provided with a payment slip and reference number. You must use these to pay any tax that needs to be paid.