How to file the Income Tax return of a deceased person


Time is coming when individuals get ready to file their income tax returns. But, it’s not only the living who have to pay their taxes. If one of the family members has died during the financial year and s/he was liable to pay tax, the heir might need to file a return on his or her behalf.

Section 159 of the Income-Tax Act lays down the liabilities of the legal representatives of a deceased person. In most cases, the individual’s spouse or eldest son/daughter assumes the status of legal heir or representative. This is unless the will mentions another person to be the executor or administrator of the estate.

Tax liability:

As per section 159, the legal heir or representative is deemed the assessee. As such, s/he will have to pay taxes liable to be paid by the deceased, including advance tax and self-assessment tax. If s/he chooses not to file the return, the tax authorities could levy the same penalty as on the deceased. However, the money for paying the taxes does not go out of the legal heir’s pocket.

How to register as a Legal Heir on Income Tax website:

User should register as a Legal Heir to e-File on behalf of the deceased. Deceased person’s PAN and Legal Heir’s PAN should be registered in the e-Filing portal. If PAN of deceased is not registered in the portal then the Legal Heir can register on behalf of the deceased person.

Step 1 – Login to e-Filing portal using Legal Heir Credentials

Step 2 – My Account -> Register as Legal Heir

Step 3 – Select the Type of Request – New Request

Step 4 – Enter the details of Deceased

  • PAN
  • Date of Birth
  • Surname
  • Middle Name
  • First Name

Step 5 – Select the files to upload

Step 6 – Attach a Zip File with the below scanned documents

  • Copy of the Death Certificate
  • PAN card of the deceased
  • Self-attested PAN card copy of the heir and
  • Legal Heir Certificate Or Affidavit in presence of a Notary Public

Step 7 – Click Submit

Documents accepted as Legal Heir certificate:

  • The legal heir certificate issued by court of law
  • The legal heir certificate issued by the Local revenue authorities.
  • The certificate of surviving family members issued by the local revenue authorities
  • The registered will
  • The Family pension certificate issued by the State/Central government.

Approval Process:

The tax authorities would send a confirmation mail to the registered e-mail ID, approving the request. On receipt, the legal representative can file the tax returns of the deceased person. They would have to log in using their own credentials for this purpose

A person is treated as a Temporary Legal Heir when fails to submit any one of the five Legal Heir certificates as specified. If he wants to be Permanent Legal heir, below are the steps:

Steps involved in Upgrade to Permanent Legal Heir:

Step 1 – Login to e-Filing portal using Legal Heir Credentials

Step 2 – My Account -> Register as Legal Heir

Step 3 – Select the Type of Request – Upgrade to Permanent LH

Step 4 – Select the Legal Heir Certificate

Step 5 – Upload the Scan document of any one of the Legal Heir Certificate.

Step 6 – Click Submit

To view the status of the request, Login using Legal Heir Credentials:

My Request List —> Select Add Legal Heir Request.

The Legal Heir should add his/her PAN in the verification part of the ITR Form, validate and generate the xml of the return and upload the return of the deceased using the Legal Heir login.