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Should You File Income Tax Returns Of The Deceased?

Adhil Shetty
·4-min read


Q. Hi, Adhil! A friend of mine lost his 60-year-old father in January this year. It was a sudden event and my friend wasn’t prepared to handle it. While sorting out his finances, he realized that he needs to file income tax returns for his father too. He is confused about the process. Can he club his father’s income with his own to file returns? — Akriti Das

A. Sorry to hear about your friend’s loss. While nothing can make up for the loss of your loved one, certain key financial tasks cannot be overlooked. Filing income tax returns of the deceased is one such important task that you need to complete for your loved ones.

As per Section 159 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 “Where a person dies, his legal representative shall be liable to pay any sum which the deceased would have been liable to pay if he had not died, in the like manner and to the same extent as the deceased.” Additionally, the section says that the legal representative of the deceased shall be deemed to be an assessee and be personally liable for any tax payable by him in his capacity as a legal representative.

So your friend is required to file his father’s income tax returns. Here are a few questions answered to understand this process.

Can The Income Be clubbed?

Your friend cannot merge his father’s income with his income to file income tax returns (ITRs). He needs to first register himself as a legal heir of the deceased to file the ITR. Once he is registered as a legal heir with the I-T Department, he can file ITR on his father’s behalf. He will be required to file his income tax returns separately.

What Are The Documents Required?

Besides the deceased’s PAN, saving bank statements, income and investment statements, interest certificates, you would be required to furnish death certificate of the deceased, your PAN card, bank letter and a court-issued legal heir certificate. If your friend had a joint account with his father, the bank’s letter may also serve as a nomination for the legal heir. It would also be wise to not close the joint account till ITR filling process is complete and refunds, if any, are processed.

How To File ITR Of The Deceased

The process of filing the income tax returns of a deceased is the same as it is for a person who is alive. You just need to compute the income of the deceased from the beginning of the financial year until the date of death. Any other proceedings from the investments or inherited assets of the deceased will become taxable in the hand of a legal heir that he will have to mention during his ITR filing process. You can take help of investment proofs, Form 16, Form 26AS etc. bank statements for income tax calculation. As a legal heir, you will be required to pay tax for the income earned through an asset after the person’s demise while filing your returns.

Steps For Filing ITRs As Legal Heir

As a mandatory step, you will have to register yourself as a legal heir on the Income Tax Department’s website. Do keep your and your deceased father’s PAN handy to complete the process. Once you follow all the required steps and register yourself as a legal heir, you will have to log in to the income tax filing website https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in with deceased’s credentials. As a next step, you will have to click on the ‘e-file’ tab on the dashboard and click on ‘Income Tax Return’ after identifying the relevant ITR form. Before submitting, do check if the information provided is correct and match with the documents you possess. In the final step, e-verify the tax return using Aadhaar based OTP.

Once the ITR of the deceased is filed, the tax department will permanently delete the tax account of the deceased. You can also seek professional help in filing the deceased person returns.

Have a question on personal finance? Ping me on Twitter at @adhilshetty with the hashtag #AskAdhil. The writer is CEO, BankBazaar.com, an online marketplace for loans and credit cards.

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