Are Beneficiary IRAs Taxable?

Inherited from a previous marriage. If a traditional IRA is left to a surviving spouse, the surviving spouse usually has three options:

  • By declaring himself or herself as the account owner, he or she might treat it as his or her own IRA.
  • Treat it as if it were his or her own by rolling it over into a standard IRA or, if taxable, into a:

d. A state or local government’s deferred compensation plan (section 457(b) plan), or

3. Rather than considering the IRA as his or her own, regard himself or herself as the recipient.

Even if the surviving spouse is not the sole beneficiary of his or her deceased spouse’s IRA, a distribution from his or her deceased spouse’s IRA can be rolled over into the surviving spouse’s IRA within the 60-day time restriction, as long as the payout is not a mandatory distribution.

Someone other than the spouse inherited it. The beneficiary cannot treat an inherited conventional IRA as his or her own if it is not from a deceased spouse. This means the beneficiary is unable to contribute to the IRA or transfer funds into or out of the inherited IRA. The beneficiary, on the other hand, can make a trustee-to-trustee transfer if the IRA into which the funds are being transferred is established and maintained in the name of the deceased IRA owner for the beneficiary’s benefit.

The recipient, like the original owner, will not owe tax on the IRA’s assets until he or she receives distributions from it.

Spouses get the most leeway

If a survivor inherits an IRA from their deceased spouse, they have numerous options for how to spend it:

  • Roll the IRA over into another account, such as another IRA or a qualified employment plan, such as a 403(b) plan, as if it were your own.

Depending on your age, you may be compelled to take required minimum distributions if you are the lone beneficiary and regard the IRA as your own. However, in certain instances, you may be able to avoid making a withdrawal.

“When it comes to IRAs inherited from a spouse, Frank St. Onge, an enrolled agent with Total Financial Planning, LLC in the Detroit region, says, “If you were not interested in pulling money out at this time, you could let that money continue to grow in the IRA until you reach age 72.”

Furthermore, couples “are permitted to roll their IRA into a personal account. That brings everything back to normal. They can now choose their own successor beneficiary and manage the IRA as if it were their own, according to Carol Tully, CPA, principal at Wolf & Co. in Boston.

The IRS has more information on your options, including what you can do with a Roth IRA, which has different regulations than ordinary IRAs.

Choose when to take your money

If you’ve inherited an IRA, you’ll need to move quickly to prevent violating IRS regulations. You can roll over the inherited IRA into your own account if you’re the surviving spouse, but no one else will be able to do so. You’ll also have several more alternatives for receiving the funds.

If you’re the spouse of the original IRA owner, chronically ill or disabled, a minor kid, or not fewer than 10 years younger than the original owner, you have more alternatives as an inheritor. If you don’t fit into one of these groups, you must follow a different set of guidelines.

  • The “stretch option,” which keeps the funds in the IRA for as long as feasible, allows you to take distributions over your life expectancy.
  • You must liquidate the account within five years of the original owner’s death if you do not do so.

The stretch IRA is a tax-advantaged version of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The opportunity to shield cash from taxation while they potentially increase for decades is hidden beneath layers of rules and red tape.

As part of the five-year rule, the beneficiary is compelled to take money out of the IRA over time in the second choice. Unless the IRA is a Roth, in which case taxes were paid before money was put into the account, this can add up to a colossal income tax burden for large IRAs.

Prior to 2020, these inherited IRA options were available to everyone. With the passage of the SECURE Act in late 2019, persons who are not in the first category (spouses and others) will be required to remove the whole balance of their IRA in 10 years and liquidate the account. Annual statutory minimum distributions apply to withdrawals.

When deciding how to take withdrawals, keep in mind the legal obligations while weighing the tax implications of withdrawals against the benefits of letting the money grow over time.

More information on mandatory minimum distributions can be found on the IRS website.

Be aware of year-of-death required distributions

Another challenge for conventional IRA recipients is determining if the benefactor took his or her required minimum distribution (RMD) in the year of death. If the original account owner hasn’t done so, the beneficiary is responsible for ensuring that the minimum is satisfied.

“Let’s imagine your father passes away on January 24 and leaves you his IRA. He probably hadn’t gotten around to distributing his money yet. If the original owner did not take it out, the recipient is responsible for doing so. If you don’t know about it or fail to do it, Choate warns you’ll face a penalty of 50% of the money not dispersed.

Not unexpectedly, if someone dies late in the year, this can be an issue. The deadline for taking the RMD for that year is the last day of the calendar year.

“If your father dies on Christmas Day and hasn’t taken out the distribution, you might not even realize you own the account until it’s too late to take out the distribution for that year,” she explains.

There is no year-of-death compulsory distribution if the deceased was not yet required to take distributions.

Take the tax break coming to you

Depending on the form of IRA, it may be taxable. You won’t have to pay taxes if you inherit a Roth IRA. With a regular IRA, however, any money you remove is taxed as ordinary income.

Inheritors of an IRA will receive an income tax deduction for the estate taxes paid on the account if the estate is subject to the estate tax. The taxable income produced by the deceased (but not collected by him or her) is referred to as “income derived from the estate of a deceased person.”

“It’s taxable income when you receive a payout from an IRA,” Choate explains. “However, because that person’s estate had to pay a federal estate tax, you can deduct the estate taxes paid on the IRA from your income taxes. You may have $1 million in earnings and a $350,000 deduction to offset that.”

“It doesn’t have to be you who paid the taxes; it simply has to be someone,” she explains.

The estate tax will apply to estates valued more than $12.06 million in 2022, up from $11.70 million in 2020.

Don’t ignore beneficiary forms

An estate plan can be ruined by an ambiguous, incomplete, or absent designated beneficiary form.

“When you inquire who their beneficiary is, they believe they already know. The form, however, hasn’t been completed or isn’t on file with the custodian. “This causes a slew of issues,” Tully explains.

If no chosen beneficiary form is completed and the account is transferred to the estate, the beneficiary will be subject to the five-year rule for account disbursements.

The form’s simplicity can be deceiving. Large sums of money can be directed with just a few bits of information.

Improperly drafted trusts can be bad news

A trust can be named as the principal beneficiary of an IRA. It’s also possible that something terrible will happen. A trust can unknowingly limit the alternatives available to beneficiaries if it is set up wrongly.

According to Tully, if the trust’s terms aren’t correctly crafted, certain custodians won’t be able to look through the trust to establish the qualified beneficiaries, triggering the IRA’s expedited distribution restrictions.

According to Choate, the trust should be drafted by a lawyer “who is familiar with the regulations for leaving IRAs to trusts.”

How do I avoid paying taxes on an inherited IRA?

With a so-called Roth IRA conversion, IRA owners can transfer their balance from pre-tax to after-tax, paying taxes on both contributions and earnings. “If they’re in a lower tax bracket than their beneficiaries, it would probably make sense,” Schwartz said.

Do beneficiaries pay taxes on inherited Roth IRAs?

Earnings from a Roth IRA inherited by a non-spouse are taxable until the 5-year rule is met. The early withdrawal penalty of 10% will not apply to you. The account’s assets can continue to grow tax-free. You have the option of naming your own beneficiary.

What is the tax rate on an inherited IRA distribution?

IRAs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. In the years that contributions are made to the account, a typical IRA provides a tax deduction. In other words, the amount of the contribution is used to lower the person’s taxable income in the tax year in which it was made.

You can also donate money that isn’t tax deductible. IRAs also grow tax-deferred, which means that the profits and interest are not taxed as they accumulate over time. When money is withdrawn in retirement (referred to as a distribution), it is taxed at the individual’s marginal tax rate in the year of withdrawal.

The IRS imposes a 10% tax penalty if the money is removed before the age of 591/2, and the distribution is taxed at the owner’s income tax rate.

What is the difference between an inherited IRA and a beneficiary IRA?

An inherited IRA is one that you leave to someone after you pass away. The account must then be taken over by the beneficiary. The spouse of the deceased person is usually the beneficiary of an IRA, but this isn’t always the case. Although the inherited IRA laws for spouses and non-spouses are different, you can set up your IRA to go to a kid, parent, or other loved one. You can even direct your IRA to an estate, trust, or a beloved charity.

You have three options with your inherited IRA if you’re the surviving spouse. Rather than making it your own, you can simply identify yourself as the account owner, roll it over into another sort of retirement plan, or treat yourself as the beneficiary. You don’t have the choice to make the IRA your own if you’re a non-spouse inheriting the IRA. Either make a trustee-to-trustee transfer or withdraw the account. You’ll almost certainly have to withdraw the funds within five years of the original account owner’s death.

What happens when you inherit an IRA from a parent?

Many people believe that they can roll over an inherited IRA into their own. You cannot roll an IRA into your own IRA or treat it as your own if you inherit one from a parent, aunt, uncle, sibling, or acquaintance. Instead, you’ll have to put your share of the assets into a new IRA that’s been established up and properly labeled as an inherited IRA — for example, (name of dead owner) for the benefit of (name of deceased owner) (your name).

If your mother’s IRA account has more than one beneficiary, money can be divided into separate accounts for each. When you split an account, each beneficiary can treat their inherited half as if they were the only one.

An inherited IRA can be set up with almost any bank or brokerage firm. The simplest choice, though, is to open your inherited IRA with the same business that handled your mother’s account.

Most (but not all) IRA beneficiaries must drain an inherited IRA within 10 years of the account owner’s death, thanks to the Secure Act, which was signed into law in December 2019. If the owner died after December 31, 2019, this rule applies to inherited IRAs.

How do I report an inherited IRA on my tax return?

When an individual taxpayer inherits a traditional IRA from someone other than their spouse, the inherited IRA cannot be treated in the same way as an IRA that the taxpayer owns. Furthermore, if the deceased owner died on or after the date that the deceased owner was obligated to accept minimum distributions from the IRA, the IRA is subject to certain limitations on payments. If the deceased owner had not yet begun to take required distributions, the designated beneficiary may be required to take a distribution from the inherited IRA by December 31 of the fifth year following the deceased owner’s death (or, in some cases, the designated beneficiary must begin a distribution plan based on the beneficiary’s life expectancy within that five-year period). Publication 590-B – Distributions from Individual Retirement Arrangements is a good place to start (IRAs).

When a taxpayer receives a payout from an inherited IRA, they should receive a 1099-R with a Distribution Code of ‘4’ in Box 7 from the financial institution. Unless the dead owner made non-deductible contributions to the IRA, this gross distribution is normally completely taxable to the beneficiary/taxpayer. However, regardless of the beneficiary’s or the deceased owner’s age, a distribution from an IRA to a beneficiary made owing to the death of the original owner is not subject to the 10% early withdrawal penalty.

To enter a distribution from an IRA that was made as a result of a plan participant’s death into TaxSlayer Pro and is reported on a Form 1099-R – Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, and Other Financial Instruments with Code ‘4’ in Box 7, go to the Main Menu of the Tax Return (Form 1040) and select:

  • Select New and specify whether the 1099-R Payee is the Taxpayer or the Spouse.
  • In most cases, the taxable amount in Box 2a should be the same as the amount in Box 1. Because the Distribution Code in Box 7 is a ‘4’, there is no need to do anything else after quitting this menu. The 10% Additional Tax for Early Withdrawal does not apply when the Distribution Code is a ‘4,’ regardless of the age of the chosen beneficiary.

NOTE: This is a tutorial for entering a distribution code of ‘4’ on Form 1099-R into the TaxSlayer Pro application. This isn’t meant to be taken as tax advice.

What is it?

The withdrawal of the whole value of an inherited traditional IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan account in one tax year is known as a lump-sum distribution. A lump-sum payout is determined by this one-tax-year time frame, not by the amount of distributions. A lump-sum distribution can be made as a single payment or as a series of payments over the course of the tax year. When you inherit a traditional IRA, this distribution option is usually accessible, but it may also be available when you inherit a retirement plan account (if the terms of the plan allow it). If you are not the IRA or plan’s sole beneficiary, the lump-sum distribution choice will apply to your part of the inherited money separately.

You will be subject to federal (and probably state) income tax on a lump-sum payout as an IRA or retirement plan beneficiary for the tax year in which it is received (to the extent that the distribution represents pretax or tax-deductible contributions, and investment earnings). A lump-sum distribution is generally not viewed as the ideal option to disperse cash from an inherited IRA or plan for this and other reasons. Other options for taking post-death payouts will usually offer better tax treatment and other benefits.

Does an inherited IRA have to be distributed in 10 years?

The 10-year rule simply states that the inherited retirement account must be dispersed in full by the end of the tenth year after the death year.

How much can you inherit without paying taxes in 2021?

  • Because of the extent of the inheritance tax exemption, only a small percentage of estates (less than 1%) are affected.
  • The existing exemption, which was doubled as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, will expire in 2026.
  • The estate tax exemption has been recommended by the Biden administration as being significantly reduced.

What are the new rules for inherited IRA distributions?

  • When an IRA owner dies, the SECURE Act modified the criteria for dispersing funds from an inherited IRA.
  • For non-spousal IRAs, the “stretch IRA” provision has been mostly eliminated. The new rule compels many beneficiaries to take all assets from an inherited IRA or 401(k) plan within 10 years following the death of the account holder for IRAs inherited from original owners who died on or after January 1, 2020.
  • In some situations, disclaiming inherited IRA assets may make sense because they could boost the total value of your estate and push you over the estate tax exemption limit.

If you’re the son, daughter, brother, sister, or even a close friend of an IRA beneficiary, it’s vital that you—and the IRA owner—understand the regulations that govern IRA inheritances.

“With the enactment of the SECURE Act in December 2019, some of the procedures for inheriting and distributing assets upon the death of an IRA owner changed,” explains Ken Hevert, senior vice president of retirement products at Fidelity. “If IRA owners and beneficiaries aren’t diligent, they risk paying greater taxes or penalties, as well as losing out on future tax-advantaged growth.”

As a nonspouse beneficiary, here’s what you need to know about inheriting IRA funds. The criteria for inheriting IRA assets vary depending on your relationship with the IRA’s original owner and the sort of IRA you acquired. Whatever your circumstances, speaking with your attorney or tax counselor ahead of time may help you avoid unwanted repercussions.

Nonspouse inherited IRA owners are normally required to begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) no later than December 31 of the year after the death of the original account owner, according to the IRS.

With the passing of the SECURE Act, nonspouse IRA distributions must be completed within 10 years of the account owner’s death. You may previously “stretch” your dividends and tax payments out beyond your single life expectancy if you inherited an IRA or 401(k). For some recipients, the SECURE Act repealed the so-called “stretch” provision.

You don’t have the option of rolling the assets into your own IRA as a nonspouse beneficiary. You have numerous alternatives if you inherit IRA funds from someone other than your spouse:

Does an inherited IRA have to be distributed in 5 years?

The method of distribution will be determined by the date of death of the original IRA owner and the kind of beneficiary. If the IRA owner’s RMD obligation was not met in the year of his or her death, you must take an RMD for that year.

For an inherited IRA from a decedent who died after December 31, 2019, the following rules apply:

In most cases, a designated beneficiary must liquidate the account by the end of the tenth year after the IRA owner’s death (this is known as the 10-year rule). During the 10-year period, the beneficiary is free to take any amount of money at any time. There are some exclusions for certain qualifying designated beneficiaries, who are described by the IRS as:

*A minor kid becomes subject to the 10-year rule once they attain the age of majority.

An eligible designated beneficiary can choose between the 10-year rule and the lifetime distribution rules that were in force prior to 2020 and are detailed in the section below titled “For an inherited IRA received from a decedent who died before January 1, 2020.”

Vanguard’s RMD Service does not support accounts that are being distributed based on the 10-year rule. If you’ve chosen to apply the 10-year rule for your inherited account or are forced to do so, you should consult your tax advisor if you have any issues regarding how to take distributions under this rule. If the account owner died before he or she was required to begin taking RMDs, a non-designated beneficiary (e.g., an estate or charity) would normally be subject to the 5-year rule (April 1st of the year following the year in which the owner reached RMD age). The non-designated beneficiary would be subject to an RMD based on the original IRA owner’s life expectancy factor if the IRA owner died on or after April 1st of the year following the year in which the owner achieved RMD age. Certain forms of trusts are subject to certain requirements.

For an inherited IRA from a decedent who died before January 1, 2020, the following rules apply:

When a beneficiary inherits an IRA from an account owner who died before the account owner was required to begin taking RMDs (April 1st of the year following the owner’s RMD age), the recipient has two options for distribution: over his or her lifetime or within five years (the “five-year rule”).

The major beneficiary is the spouse. If the owner’s spouse chooses to be a beneficiary of the IRA rather than assume the account, he or she can decide when to start taking RMDs based on his or her own life expectancy. By the later of December 31 of the year after the owner’s death or December 31 of the year the owner would have attained RMD age, the spouse must begin taking RMDs. The spouse beneficiary should wait until the year before he or she plans to start taking RMDs to enroll in our RMD Service. If the owner’s spouse decides to inherit the IRA, he or she must begin taking RMDs by December 31 of the year following the owner’s death or April 1 of the year after the spouse’s RMD age.

When a non-spouse is the major beneficiary, and when the spouse is not the sole beneficiary. By December 31 of the year following the owner’s death, an individual non-spouse beneficiary must begin taking RMDs based on his or her own life expectancy. If all of the beneficiaries have created separate accounts by December 31 of the year after the owner’s death and started in that year, they can take RMDs based on their respective life expectancies. If all numerous beneficiaries have not opened separate accounts by December 31, all beneficiaries must begin taking RMDs in the year after the owner’s death, based on the oldest beneficiary’s life expectancy.

Any individual recipient has the option of distributing the inherited IRA assets over the next five years after the owner passes away. The distribution must be completed by the end of the year in which the owner’s death occurs for the fifth time. If the owner died before taking RMDs, any non-individual beneficiary (excluding a qualifying trust) must use the five-year rule.

Vanguard’s RMD Service does not support accounts being allocated in accordance with the five-year rule. If you’ve chosen to apply the five-year rule for your inherited account or are forced to do so, you should see your tax advisor if you have any issues regarding how to take distributions under this rule.