Saturday, October 1, 2011


Q. I had a friend of the family who does tax returns file my 2010 return. My dear husband passed away in 2009. Tony, the guy that did my return, filed me as a widow. I thought that was correct. We were married for 55 wonderful years so I thought I was a widow. I was at coffee with the girls the other day and Mable one of my friends whose husband passed away at the same time said that she was told that she was not a widow and she had to file as single. I have not been able to sleep worrying about the IRS coming to get me. Who is right.

A. First of all Olive don’t worry too much. My best guess is that you are going to owe some money to the IRS and to the state but they are not going to throw you into jail or get audited. This is a good example of why someone should use a “qualified tax professional.” The key to this is that although you are a widow the actual IRS wording is “qualified widow or widower.” In order to meet that definition you must have a child that lives with you. In addition the qualification is only for two years after the death of the spouse. For the 2010 returns this would mean that the spouse died is 2008 or 2009 and you had a child living with you during those two years.

What should you do? I would recommend that you hire a qualified professional to amend your 2010 federal and, don’t forget your state return. I would also ask them to look at your 2009 return. Even though your husband died in 2009 you can still file a joint return. Make sure that a joint return was filed.

It is a pleasure serving you.


Thank you so much. I am now sleeping better. How much would you charge to fix my problem?

I would be happy to help. Amending your federal and state returns would cost $225. This includes looking at your 2008 and 2009 returns to see if there are any other errors.

Let me know.