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Income in Respect of a Decedent (IRD)


Income in Respect of a Decedent (IRD) refers to untaxed income earned by an individual who has passed away before receiving or utilizing it. This income may include unpaid wages, retirement account distributions, or even the interest from financial investments. Any designated recipient or beneficiary receiving the IRD becomes responsible for paying taxes on that income, in accordance with the decedent’s tax rate.


The phonetic pronunciation for the keyword “Income in Respect of a Decedent (IRD)” is:- Income: ˈɪnˌkʌm- in: ɪn- Respect: rɪˈspɛkt- of: ʌv- a: ə- Decedent: ˈdɛsədənt- IRD: aɪ ɑr diHere’s the full phrase: ˈɪnˌkʌm ɪn rɪˈspɛkt ʌv ə ˈdɛsədənt (aɪ ɑr di).

Key Takeaways

  1. Income in Respect of a Decedent (IRD) refers to the income that the deceased individual was entitled to receive at the time of their death but had not yet been paid out or recognized for tax purposes.
  2. IRD is subject to both income and estate taxes, as it is considered part of the decedent’s taxable estate. The beneficiary who receives the IRD would be responsible for paying the applicable income taxes on that amount.
  3. In order to avoid double taxation, the recipient of the IRD is allowed to take an income tax deduction for any estate tax paid on the IRD amount. This helps provide some relief from the potentially high tax burden on this income.


The concept of Income in Respect of a Decedent (IRD) is important in the realm of business and finance because it concerns the tax implications of income earned by an individual who has passed away prior to receiving the funds. It ensures the proper taxation treatment of such income, avoiding potential tax evasion or double taxation on the decedent’s estate and the beneficiaries. Understanding IRD is crucial for estate planning, asset distribution, and settling the deceased’s financial matters, as it ultimately helps protect the interests of both the government and the taxpayer. By addressing IRD, tax practitioners, financial planners, and executors of wills can make informed decisions to minimize tax liabilities and distribute assets according to the decedent’s wishes, ensuring a fair and legally compliant process.


The concept of Income in Respect of a Decedent (IRD) serves a fundamental purpose in the management of estate and taxation matters following the death of an individual. When a person passes away, their income-generating assets (investments, retirement accounts, rental properties, etc.) and any other unpaid income are transferred to their beneficiaries or heirs. This income does not cease to exist just because the individual has died; rather, it becomes part of their taxable estate. The purpose of IRD is to ensure that the income received or earned by the deceased, prior to their passing but not yet paid or distributed, is subject to proper taxation. Ultimately, the objective of IRD is to prevent income from escaping taxation as a result of the transfer of assets following the death of the earner. In practice, IRD is utilized for identifying and tracking the types of income the decedent was eligible to receive before passing away and distributing them to the rightful beneficiaries. The income is reported on the decedent’s final income tax return and is also subject to estate tax, thus ensuring that the income is taxed appropriately. Beneficiaries or heirs who receive such income are responsible for including it in their own taxable income for the year it was received, with deductions available for federal estate tax paid on the IRD. Understanding and managing IRD avoids double taxation, keeping the tax system equitable and ensuring that it covers all income effectively, regardless of whether the original earner is alive or deceased.


Income in Respect of a Decedent (IRD) refers to the income that a deceased individual earned but didn’t receive during their lifetime. This income is payable to the estate or beneficiaries after the person’s death. Here are three real-world examples: 1. Retirement Account Distributions: Suppose a person had a traditional IRA (Individual Retirement Account) that they contributed to during their lifetime. Upon their death, the remaining funds in the IRA are considered IRD. The beneficiaries who inherit the IRA will be responsible for paying income tax on the distributions they receive from the account. 2. Final Paycheck: If a person passed away before receiving their last paycheck from their employer, that income is considered IRD. The estate or beneficiaries would be responsible for paying any required income tax on this final paycheck. This could include wages, bonuses, and even unused vacation time owed to the deceased. 3. Dividends and Interest: Assume an individual owned stocks that paid dividends, or bonds that generated interest income. If the person passed away before receiving these payments, they become IRD. This income would pass on to the estate or beneficiaries, who then need to report and pay taxes on this income. In each of these examples, the IRD is subject to income tax and should be properly reported by the person receiving the income, whether it’s the deceased’s estate or the beneficiaries who inherit the assets. It is essential to consult with a tax professional for guidance on handling IRD taxes.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Income in Respect of a Decedent (IRD)?
Income in Respect of a Decedent (IRD) is a tax concept that refers to any income earned by a deceased individual up until the time of their death, but remains unpaid to them. It includes salaries, bonuses, interests, dividends, and other forms of income that the deceased person was entitled to receive but did not.
How is IRD treated for tax purposes?
The recipient of the IRD is liable for paying income taxes on that amount. The income is not included on the final tax return of the deceased but must be reported on the beneficiary’s tax return during the year it is received. The beneficiary is responsible for the tax as if the income were their own.
Who can receive IRD?
IRD can be received by the decedent’s beneficiary, typically a spouse, child, or another designee named in the estate plan. Alternatively, it may be received by the decedent’s estate or trust, depending on the decedent’s estate plan.
What are some common examples of IRD?
Common sources of Income in Respect of a Decedent (IRD) include:1. Unpaid salary, bonuses, and commissions.2. Uncashed dividend and interest checks.3. Accrued but unpaid interest on bonds.4. Distributions from IRA’s, 401(k)s, or other retirement plans.5. Unpaid royalties, rents, or partnership income.
Can IRD be subject to both income and estate tax?
Yes, IRD can be subject to both income tax and estate tax. This is known as double taxation. The income tax is paid by the beneficiary who receives the IRD, while the estate tax is levied on the total value of the decedent’s estate, including the IRD.
Is there any tax deduction available for IRD?
Yes, when paying income tax on IRD, beneficiaries may be able to take a deduction for any estate tax that has been paid on the IRD. This deduction is called the income tax deduction for estate tax paid on income in respect of a decedent (IRD Deduction). It aims to help alleviate the burden of double taxation.
How does IRD affect the cost basis of inherited assets?
The cost basis of inherited assets typically receives a step-up in basis to the asset’s fair market value at the date of death. However, assets subject to IRD do not receive a step-up in basis. The beneficiary of the IRD inherits the original cost basis of the deceased person.

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