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Getting Educated About Inheriting an IRA From Your Parent

When my Dad passed away, the lawyers and accountants sorted through his estate determining who got what. I was one of the beneficiaries on his traditional IRA which was held in mutual funds and stocks...

When my Dad passed away, the lawyers and accountants sorted through his estate determining who got what. I was one of the beneficiaries on his traditional IRA which was held in mutual funds and stocks. Once I took possession of the ‘beneficial' IRA, I got an education.

My accountant told me that I had two choices as to how to get the money out of my father's name and into my own. I could take a lump sum distribution and pay the taxes all at once or I could spread out the monies over 5 years, each year taking 1/5th of the value. In that way my income for each of those 5 years would be increased by the monetary value of only 1/5th of the inheritance, thus not sending my income into a higher than normal tax bracket. This would be a way of minimizing the tax impact of the inheritance.

Option 2 is what I elected to do and each year for 5 years I removed 1/5th of the value and claimed it as income. On my taxes, my very savvy accountant took a deduction of this IRA money each year. And each year, like clockwork, I received a Collection Notice from State Department of Taxation and Finance stating that I ‘have failed to pay the tax liabilities … and have ignored assessments issued for these tax periods' specifically regarding the inherited IRA deduction. They claimed I wasn't entitled to it as I had not reached age 59 ˝. Of course I had Penalties added to the amount I owed, just to upset me more.

After many phone calls to and from the State Department of Taxation, it was determined that some action in my favor might be taken if I (or my accountant) sent in a copy of my Dad's death certificate along with an explanation. So here's what my accountant said:

Taxpayer is entitled to the pension and annuity exclusion. This is a distribution of an IRA from the Estate of [Dad], my father. He was 79 years old at the time of his death. According to the instructions to Form IT-201, since the decedent was over 59 ˝ years old, the beneficiary may deduct the IRA money as the decedent was entitled to it.

At long last, I was reprieved with the following explanation from the state office:

Since you received the distribution on behalf of a decedent who met the age requirement, the pension exclusion claimed on line 27 of your income tax return has been allowed.

This was Year 1 of 5 and I didn't receive the notice until 4 years after the tax form was submitted. The important part of this story is yet to come.

I have now gone through this exercise and frustration 4 times with the state. Each year there's a different representative assigned to my case who doesn't know that I have been through this annoyance before. And each representative for the first 3 years required a new death certificate and a new letter from my accountant stating the same thing as before.

This year when I received the Collection Notice and called up the state tax officeScience Articles, I was connected with a lovely man named Gary who researched the information that I told him and found a computerized record of events for the last 3 years. He understood my annoyance and frustration and said the most wonderful thing to me.

I see you've submitted this information 3 times prior to today. I don't think I'll need you to submit the information again. Your notice has been cancelled.

Bless him!And then there's next year still to come…

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