joint return, order of names, husband deceased

I know the general rule is that the same filing names and order should be maintained from year to year. Does this hold when the husband has been listed first for years in a joint return but he dies
in 2009? It seems to me that the widow would become the taxpayer and he would be listed as the deceased spouse. That would reverse the order of the names but I don't know if that will raise any flags with the IRS. It's a fine point since there is little income and no tax due but the widow is extremely anxious about everything and I don't want to aggravate the situation by causing an IRS letter to come thru her door, even it's for a simple question like this.
Thanks.
--
<< ------------------------------------------------------- >>
<< The foregoing was not intended or written to be used, >>
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

When I prepared my mom's tax return for the year my dad died, I listed my dad first. Why rock the boat?
--
<< ------------------------------------------------------- >>
<< The foregoing was not intended or written to be used, >>
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You sent the return in by boat???
(Sorry, couldn't resist)
--
Stu
http://downtoearthlawyer.com
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

It was probably a balance-due return, so there was no hurry. ;-)
--
<< ------------------------------------------------------- >>
<< The foregoing was not intended or written to be used, >>
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Stan K wrote:

I recommend the exact opposite (and got this idea in years past from tax preparers more experienced than me).
On the last MFJ return (2009 in this example), you should put the surviving spouse first on the return. This will provide both you and the IRS continuity for next year.
They will get the message that one spouse is deceased, regardless of what you do, so the boat has already been rocked. Now help to steady it.
-Mark Bole
--
<< ------------------------------------------------------- >>
<< The foregoing was not intended or written to be used, >>
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Ok, so now we have one for rocking the boat, one for not, and Stuart, who abstains. Come on Stu, chime in. You've given me good advice before! Do you think it matters?
jo
--
<< ------------------------------------------------------- >>
<< The foregoing was not intended or written to be used, >>
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I advise on tax matters, but I don't do returns. So I'm not the best person to adivse on this.
My only observation is that if it has worked for Stan when the deceased spouse was put first and it worked for Mark when it wasn't, it probably doesn't make a whole lot of difference one way or the other.
--
Stu
http://downtoearthlawyer.com
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mar 20, 5:18pm, jo wrote:

I have always used Mark's approach, listing the surviving spouse first on the last joint return. Well, always since IRS stopped labeling the first "husband" and the second "wife." I've always done it primarilly to get the surviving spouse's SSN on record as the controlling SSN.
More important is to make sure that any payors who'll be issuing 1099's know that a new SSN is in order. If the 1099's are issued for 2010 in the deceased husbands SSN that does more than anything else to help prompt a letter from the IRS when no 2010 return is filed for him.
Phil Marti VITA/TCE Volunteer
--
<< ------------------------------------------------------- >>
<< The foregoing was not intended or written to be used, >>
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Is it a headache to issue a nominee 1099 under the SSN of the deceased spouse in that situation?
--
Stu
http://downtoearthlawyer.com
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Depends on your definition of "headache."
We assume the final 1040 is going to be issued so for each type of income (dividends, interest, etc) it takes a couple of more lines on a schedule.
And filing an original Red version of a form 1099 for each recipient and type of income and an original Red version of the Form 1096 transmittal cover letter.
If you've never done that before it can take a while to do.
--

ArtKamlet at a o l dot c o m Columbus OH K2PZH

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Having the surviving spouse listed first is no problem; make sure the SSN of that person is also listed first.
The deceased spouse can be listed second with the SSN listed second.
Only two potential wrinkles in this process, if any ES payments were sent in under the now deceased taxpayers SSN, these payments should automatically transfer over the filing party tax account, but there have been RARE instances of the automatic transfer failing, causing a BAL DUE Letter & then intervention by the TP or the TP's POA to straighten out the issue.
Another reason why Surnames & SSN's need to match in the Social Security Database, it's used to validate SSN & Name combinations at IRS.
--
<< ------------------------------------------------------- >>
<< The foregoing was not intended or written to be used, >>
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

In Ohio we quickly learn that IRS has no inkling of how to associate the spouse's SSN on a jointly filed 1040ES with the spouse. Especially annoying when filing MFS and allocating some of the jointly paid estimate to the spouse.
So if jointly filed estimates were made, the first named person ("Taxpayer") on the estimate should be the first named person on the 1040.
--

ArtKamlet at a o l dot c o m Columbus OH K2PZH

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thanks everyone for the pros and cons. I doubt it matters in this case; it's an extremely basic form: the couple barely earned anything besides social security last year and there are no 1099s or ES payments. They were truly impoverished. Of course the names and SSNs should match, no matter which order they are placed.
jo
--
<< ------------------------------------------------------- >>
<< The foregoing was not intended or written to be used, >>
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

BeanSmart.com is a site by and for consumers of financial services and advice. We are not affiliated with any of the banks, financial services or software manufacturers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.

Tax and financial advice you come across on this site is freely given by your peers and professionals on their own time and out of the kindness of their hearts. We can guarantee neither accuracy of such advice nor its applicability for your situation. Simply put, you are fully responsible for the results of using information from this site in real life situations.