Pellentesque erat arcu

Income Tax Return for the Deceased by Legal Heir

Filing of income tax return is mandatory if your income is taxable. But income tax return for deceased person also needs to be filed in case where a person dies and had taxable income. His legal heir/representative needs to file the return on his behalf for the income earned till the date of death. Legal heir has to register himself at the income tax website for filing the return on behalf of deceased.

The process of filing of Return on behalf of deceased is basically divided into two parts:

1. Registration as a Legal heir

2. Filing ITR as Legal heir

Who is Legal Heir?

Legal heir in the eyes of law is the person who represents the assets of deceased. To register as legal heir, any of the following documents are accepted as legal heir certificates:

1. The legal heir certificate issued by the court of law

2. The legal heir certificate issued by the Local revenue authorities.

3. The certificate of the surviving family members issued by the local revenue authorities.

4. The registered will

5. The family pension certificate issued by the State/Central government.

The most common certificate available is the certificate of surviving family members issued by the local revenue authorities (Municipality, nagarpalika). This certificate is usually issued in regional language, so the legal heir is required to translate it into English/Hindi and duly notarized the same.

Process to register as legal heir

Registration as a legal heir is mandatory for e-filing of return on behalf of deceased person. The PAN of both the deceased person and legal heir should be registered in the e-filing portal. But if Deceased person PAN is not registered then the legal heir can register on behalf of the deceased. Following are the steps for the registration of Legal heir:

Step 1 – Go to income tax website –

Step 2 – Login to e-filing portal using legal heir credentials

Step 3 – Go to My Account and register as Legal Heir

Step 4 – (i) Select the type of Request – New Request (ii) Enter the details of the deceased, select the files to upload, Attach a zip file containing PDF of the scanned documents, mentioning in “Documents required”.

The Documents required are as follows:

1. Copy of Death Certificate

2. Copy of the PAN Card of the deceased

3. Self-Attested PAN card Copy of the Legal heir

4. Legal Heir Certificate.(As described above)

The size of the zip file must not exceed 1 MB.

(iii) Click submit and you will get the Acknowledgement from the dept. with a transaction ID.

Approval Process

After completing the above process, Legal Heir request is sent to the e-filing Administrator. The e-filing administrator will verify the request and approve /reject as applicable. Once the request is approved, one can use all services for Legal heir and for the deceased.

Filing ITR as Legal Heir

Once the request for registration as legal heir is approved, you can file return as legal heir on behalf of deceased.

Following is the process for filing the return:

1. Download the ITR Form applicable to the deceased, fill the ITR Form and generate the XML File.

2. Go to Income tax website

3. Login to e-filing portal using Legal heir credentials

4. Go to e-file and upload the return

5. Fill the following details and select the XML File

1. PAN – Select the PAN of the deceased.

2. ITR Form Name – Select the ITR Form to upload (i.e. ITR 1, 2, …)

3. Select Assessment Year

4. Upload the XML File

5. Legal heir can digitally sign the ITR of deceased using his Digital Signature Certificate

6. Click Submit

How to compute Income of the deceased

As a legal heir, you have to file the return on behalf of the deceased for income till the date of death.

Calculate the income of the deceased from the start of the year till the date of death and thereby the tax payable on it in the same manner as if the deceased is alive. If you don’t know the exact income, then you should refer Bank Statements, investments and other relevant documents necessary for income tax calculation.

Any income earned after the date of death from the assets inherited from the deceased is taxable in the hands of legal heir. Legal heir should include this income inherited from the deceased in his own income while filing own income tax return.

Tax Liability of the Legal Heir

The legal heir is responsible for paying taxes liable on the Income tax return of the deceased. However, he is not personally liable for the taxes due. The liability of the legal heir is limited to the extent to which the assets he inherited are capable of meeting the liability.

For E.g. If a person receives Rs 8 lakhs as his share from his father property and his father tax liability is Rs 9.5 lakhs, then he cannot be made liable to pay more than Rs 8Lakhs.The liability of the legal heir shall be limited to the value of the assets inherited.

Liability of Legal heir in case of Penalty/Demand

The legal heir is responsible for the tax payable and also for the other sum i.e. Penalty, fine or interest which the deceased would have been liable had he not died. It means that the Penalty proceedings for a default by the deceased can also be initiated against the legal heir. However his liability would be limited to the extent of the assets inherited by him from the deceased.

(Shubham is a Chartered Accountant and MBA (Finance). She is on the forum of “Economic Times” experts on Taxation.   She specialises in Individual Taxation and Taxation of Freelancers & Small businesses. She can be reached on for answering your tax related questions.)

Please mention “My Powai-Query” in the subject line of the email