Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Early Distributions from Inherited IRAs

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Early Distributions from Inherited IRAs

Article excerpt

Taxpayers who inherit individual retirement accounts (IRAs) pay no income tax if they directly roll over the funds into IRAs in their own names. Generally, if the taxpayer receives distributions directly from the inherited IRA, the distributions are taxed, but the 10% penalty tax on premature withdrawals does not apply, even if the beneficiary is under the age of 59 1/2.

In June 1998, upon the death of Ray Campbell, his wife Charlotte inherited an IRA with a balance of $1,010,988. In July 1998 Mrs. Campbell directly rolled over the entire amount to her IRA. She subsequently remarried, becoming Charlotte Gee.

In 2002, at the age of 55, Mrs. Gee received a $977,888 distribution from her IRA. She and her husband reported the amount as income on their 2002 joint federal income tax return but did not include the 10% penalty tax, even though form 1099-R indicated the distribution was subject to it. On their return the taxpayers stated the wrong code had been entered on the 1099-R; the distribution was from Ray Campbell's IRA, and thus was exempt from the penalty tax. The IRS assessed a deficiency equal to the 10% penalty; the taxpayers petitioned the Tax Court for relief.

Result. For the IRS. The taxpayers stated that although there was a direct rollover from Ray's IRA into Charlotte's, she made no additional contributions to the account and never redesignated it as her own. Therefore, the money retained its character as an amount received by a beneficiary from an inherited IRA and the distribution was made to a beneficiary on account of a death. …

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