Income tax credits and reliefs following a death

Introduction

Tax credits reduce the amount of tax you have to pay. You can read about how your income tax is calculated for an explanation of how tax credits work. This document explains the tax credits that apply to the income of a deceased person. It also explains the tax credits and reliefs that are available to a widowed person or surviving civil partner. You can get more information about other money matters after death.

The year of death

Single people

In the year in which they die, a single person has the normal tax credits to which they are entitled for the whole year, January to December. (Widowed people and surviving civil partners are treated in the same way.) If a refund of tax is due, it can be claimed by the person responsible for finalising the affairs of the deceased.

Unmarried couples are treated as single for tax purposes.

Married couples and civil partners

If your spouse or civil partner dies, the way you are taxed in that year depends on how you were taxed as a couple. That is, whether you were taxed through Single Assessment, Separate Assessment or Joint Assessment. For more information on these options see the information on the taxation of married people and civil partners.

Single assessment

If you were both taxed as single persons then the Widowed Person's or Surviving Civil Partner's Tax Credit (see below) will replace the personal tax credit you had at the start of the year.

Separate assessment

If you and your spouse or civil partner were taxed under separate assessment then the Widowed Person's or Surviving Civil Partner's Tax Credit will replace your personal tax credit. You may also be entitled to unused tax credits that were allocated to your spouse or civil partner.

Joint assessment

If a married couple is jointly assessed for tax, the spouse or civil partner with the obligation to make tax returns, etc., is known as the assessable spouse or nominated civil partner. The assessable spouse or nominated civil partner is the person the couple has nominated as such. If no one has been nominated, the assessable person is the spouse or civil partner with the higher income and remains the assessable spouse or nominated civil partner until a decision is made to the contrary.

The tax treatment of a married couple jointly assessed to tax in the year where one spouse dies depends on whether the assessable spouse or the non-assessable spouse dies.

Death of the non-assessable spouse

In the tax year in which a non assessable spouse dies, the assessable spouse

  • Is taxable on his/her own total income for the full year plus the total income of his/her spouse to the date of death
  • Is entitled to the full amount of the married tax credit and the PAYE credit (2 PAYE credits if both have enough income taxable under the PAYE system)
  • May claim other tax credits due to both spouses in that year

Death of the assessable spouse

For the period 1 January to the date of death, the assessable spouse:

  • Is taxable on his/her own total income and the total income of his/her spouse for this period
  • Is entitled to the full amount of the married tax credit and the PAYE credit (2 PAYE credits if both have sufficient income taxable under the PAYE system)
  • May claim a proportion of other credits up to date of death
  • Has the tax rate bands that apply to a married couple

From the date of death to the end of the tax year, the widowed spouse:

  • Is assessable on his/her own income for this period
  • Is entitled to the widowed person’s tax credit for year of bereavement and the PAYE credit (if taxed on PAYE)
  • May claim tax credits for the period following the death
  • Has the tax rate bands that apply to a single/widowed person

Following the year of death

Widowed Person’s Tax Credit

An increased personal tax credit is available to widowed people. The amount of the tax credit varies according to whether or not the surviving spouse has dependent children and how recent the bereavement was.

Widowed person without dependent children

A widowed person without a dependent child will still get the Married Person or Civil Partner's Tax Credit in the year of bereavement, which is €3,300 in 2016.

Each year following the year of bereavement you will get the Widowed Person or Surviving Civil Partner's Tax Credit, which is €2,190 in 2016.

Widowed person with dependent children

If you are a widowed person with a dependent child you will still get the Married Person or Civil Partner's Tax Credit in the year of bereavement which is €3,300 in 2016. In subsequent years, as long as you continue to have dependent children you will get a Widowed Person or Surviving Civil Partner's (with dependent children) Tax Credit (€1,650 in 2016) and a Single Person Child Carer Credit (€1,650 in 2016).

You are also entitled to an additional tax credit, the Widowed Parent or Surviving Civil Partner Tax Credit, for the first five years after the year of death - see below.

If you are widowed with dependent children and have not remarried but are cohabiting with a partner, you are not considered as a widowed person (with dependent children) for tax purposes. This means you are not entitled to the Widowed Person's (with dependent children) Tax Credit or the Single Person Child Carer Credit, however, you can get the Widowed Person's Tax Credit instead.

Also, if you are widowed and have not remarried but no longer have dependent children, you will not be considered as a widowed person (with dependent children). Instead, you will get the Widowed Person or Surviving Civil Partner's Tax Credit.

Widowed Parent or Surviving Civil Partner Tax Credit

The Widowed Parent or Surviving Civil Partner Tax Credit is available for five years, beginning in the year after the year of bereavement. If you are bereaved in 2016 you will not get a Widowed Parent or Surviving Civil Partner Tax Credit untill 2017. Only one Widowed Parent Tax or Surviving Civil Partner Credit is granted, irrespective of the number of children. The amount of the tax credit varies each year as follows:

If you were bereaved in: Widowed Parent Tax Credit due in 2012 was: Widowed Parent Tax Credit due in 2013 was: Widowed Parent Tax Credit due in 2014 was: Widowed Parent Tax Credit due in 2015 was: Widowed Parent Tax Credit due in 2016 is:
2015 n/a n/a n/a n/a €3,600
2014 n/a n/a n/a €3,600 €3,150
2013 n/a n/a €3,600 €3,150 €2,700
2012 n/a €3,600 €3,150 €2,700 €2,250
2011 €3,600 €3,150 €2,700 €2,250 €1,800
2010 €3,150 €2,700 €2,250 €1,800 Nil
2009 €2,700 €2,250 €1,800 Nil Nil
2008 €2,250 €1,800 Nil Nil Nil
2007 €1,800 Nil Nil Nil Nil

To qualify for the Widowed Parent or Surviving Civil Partner Tax Credit:

  • You must not have re-married by the start of the tax year and must not be cohabiting with a partner.
  • A qualifying child must reside with you for some part of the tax year.
  • The child must be under 18 or, if over 18, in full-time eduction or undergoing a full-time training course for a trade or profession for a minimum of 2 years. There is no age restriction if the child became permanently incapacitated when under 21 or in full-time education or training.
  • The child may be an adopted child, a stepchild or any child that you support and have custody of

How to apply

Following the death of a spouse, you should contact Revenue to inform them so that they can arrange for you to receive the appropriate tax credits. Please remember to have your PPS number to hand in any dealings with Revenue.

You can also claim tax credits online.

Where to apply

You can claim tax credits online using Revenue's PAYE Anytime service which is accessed through Revenue's myAccount.

Lo-call telephone numbers for Revenue regional offices are available here. You can find more detailed contact details for your region.

Page edited: 8 July 2016