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How to File Income Tax Return for the Deceased by Legal Heir

Find out tax liability of Legal Heir

Updated on :  

08 min read.

Did you know that deceased people can also be taxed? As ironic as it sounds, the income tax returns for a deceased person has to be filed, if he/she has taxable income. His legal heir/representative needs to file the return on his behalf for the income earned till the date of death. The legal heir has to register himself at the income tax website for filing the return on behalf of the deceased. In this article, we will discuss how to file the income tax return for the deceased by a legal heir.

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Define 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:

  • The legal heir certificate issued by the court of law
  • The legal heir certificate issued by the Local revenue authorities.
  • The certificate of the surviving family members issued by the local revenue authorities.
  • The registered Will of the deceased person
  • 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 get it duly notarised.

Register as legal heir

The legal heir has to register at the income tax website as a legal heir.  For this, we should know who the legal heir is and the procedure to register as a legal heir on the government income tax website. 

Registration as a legal heir is mandatory for e-filing of return on behalf of the deceased person. The PAN of both the deceased person and legal heir should be registered in the e-filing portal. However, if the 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 department e-filing portal. Log in to e-filing portal using legal heir credentials .

Step 2 – Go to ‘Authorised Partners’ > ‘Register as Representative’ and click on ‘Let’s Get Started’.

Step 3 –   Click on ‘Create New Request’.

Step 4– Fill all the required details


Step 5: Upload the required documents

The copies of following documents are required:

  • Death Certificate.
  • PAN Card of the deceased
  • Self-Attested PAN card Copy of the Legal heir
  • Legal Heir Certificate. (As described above)
  • Order passed in the name of the deceased if applicable

The size of the zip file must not exceed 5 MB.

Step 6– Click on the ‘Proceed’ and ‘Verify the Request’ button.

Step 7– Click on ‘Submit Request’ and you will get the acknowledgement from the department.

Note: The legal heir should mandatorily provide the ‘Reason for Registration’ as a representative assessee.

Registration 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 the Legal heir and for the deceased.

If the request is rejected, the intimation for rejection would be received by a valid reason for such rejection. The reasons could be upload of incorrect information or documents, etc. Accordingly, the legal heir should take the necessary action to rectify such rejection.

Once the request for registration as legal heir is approved, you can file return as legal heir on behalf of deceased. ITR can be filled in the normal way and in the standard procedure which is followed by an individual person while filling his own return.

Thus, the return would be e-verified using various methods followed, such as Aadhaar OTP, net banking, etc., or it can be verified by the legal heir who can sign the ITR Acknowledgement and a copy of the same can be sent to Central Processing Centre (Bengaluru).

Calculate the 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 the legal heir. Legal heir should include this income inherited from the deceased in his own income while filing own income tax return.

Tax calculation of the deceased with an example

Neelima who has a rental income of Rs 30,000 per month and interest income of Rs 10,000 per month dies on 20th Sep 2021. Her legal heir needs to file the return on behalf of Neelima for the period 1st April 2021 to 20th Sep 2021.

The income to be included in the return of Neelima to be filed by legal heir would be :

Income from House Property Rental Income (From 1st April 2021 to 20th Sep 2021)Rs 1,70,000
Income from other Sources Interest Income (From 1st April 2021 to 20th Sep 2021)Rs 56,667

The income to be included in the return of legal heir for F.Y 2017-18 :

Income from House Property Rental Income (From 20th Sep 2021 to 31st March 2022)Rs 1,90,000
Income from other Sources Interest Income (From 20th Sep 2021 to 31st March 2022)Rs 63,333

Property taxes can be claimed in the return of the deceased if he paid for them or of the legal heir if the legal heir paid them. Standard deduction of 30% is allowed to both on the rental income.

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

Tax liability in case of penalty or 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 from the deceased.

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