Home / Money / Personal Finance /  Legal heirs can land in trouble if they don't file income tax returns of deceased

When a person dies, apart from assets and liabilities, other things, too, get transferred to legal heirs. It includes the responsibility to file the last income tax return.

According to Section 159 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, if a person dies, the legal representative shall pay the tax due just like the deceased would have file it if he or she was alive.

Legal heirs must register themselves as the representative of the deceased with the income tax department. They must send a request to the e-filing administrator. Once the request for registration as the legal heir is approved, they can file returns on behalf of the deceased.

The rest of the procedure is like filing income tax returns. You can also take the help of a chartered accountant for this. Start the process early, once the income tax utility is open for filing returns. There could be transactions in Form 26AS for which you may need to arrange the paperwork.

To file the income tax return, you may also need the bank account statements of the deceased. If you don’t have access to it, you will need to submit documents at the bank’s branch for it.

If the legal heirs don’t file returns, they can be in trouble. According to the laws, the legal heirs will be held responsible for the non-payment of dues of the deceased. There can be proceedings against them.

Legal heirs will also need to surrender the deceased PAN card. For this, they need to write an application to the assessing officer (AO) under whose jurisdiction PAN is registered. The letter should contain reasons for surrender - the death of the holder, name, PAN, date of birth of the deceased, and a copy of the death certificate.

Surrender the PAN only after completing other tasks like filing returns, closing bank accounts, and transferring other assets. PAN is a key identification document that legal heirs require along with the death certificate for every transaction.

(Do you have personal finance queries? Send them to mintmoney@livemint.com and get them answered by industry experts)

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