Generally, a survivor or beneficiary reports pension or annuity income in the same way the plan participant would have reported it. However, some special rules apply, and they are covered elsewhere in this publication as well as in this section.taxmap/pubs/p575-006.htm#en_us_publink10004569
You may be entitled to a deduction for estate tax if you receive amounts included in your income as income in respect of a decedent under a joint and survivor annuity that was included in the decedent's estate. You can deduct the part of the total estate tax that was based on the annuity, provided that the decedent died after his or her annuity starting date. (For details, see section 1.691(d)-1 of the regulations.) Deduct it in equal amounts over your remaining life expectancy.
If the decedent died before the annuity starting date of a deferred annuity contract and you receive a death benefit under that contract, the amount you receive (either in a lump sum or as periodic payments) in excess of the decedent's cost is included in your gross income as income in respect of a decedent for which you may be able to claim an estate tax deduction.
You can take the estate tax deduction as an itemized deduction on Schedule A, Form 1040. This deduction is not subject to the 2%-of-adjusted-gross-income limit on miscellaneous deductions. See Publication 559, Survivors, Executors, and Administrators, for more information on the estate tax deduction.taxmap/pubs/p575-006.htm#en_us_publink10004570
Distributions the beneficiary of a deceased employee gets may be accrued salary payments; distributions from employee profit-sharing, pension, annuity, or stock bonus plans; or other items. Some of these should be treated separately for tax purposes. The treatment of these distributions depends on what they represent.
Salary or wages paid after the death of the employee are usually the beneficiary's ordinary income. If you are a beneficiary of an employee who was covered by any of the retirement plans mentioned, you can exclude from income nonperiodic distributions received that totally relieve the payer from the obligation to pay an annuity. The amount that you can exclude is equal to the deceased employee's investment in the contract (cost).
If you are entitled to receive a survivor annuity on the death of an employee, you can exclude part of each annuity payment as a tax-free recovery of the employee's investment in the contract. You must figure the tax-free part of each payment using the method that applies as if you were the employee. For more information, see Taxation of Periodic Payments, earlier. taxmap/pubs/p575-006.htm#en_us_publink10004571
Benefits paid to you as a survivor under a joint and survivor annuity must be included in your gross income. Include them in income in the same way the retiree would have included them in gross income. See Partly Taxable Payments under Taxation of Periodic Payments, earlier.
If the retiree reported the annuity under the Three-Year Rule and recovered all of the cost tax free, your survivor payments are fully taxable.
If the retiree was reporting the annuity under the General Rule, you must apply the same exclusion percentage to your initial survivor annuity payment called for in the contract. The resulting tax-free amount will then remain fixed for the initial and future payments. Increases in the survivor annuity are fully taxable. See Publication 939 for more information on the General Rule.
If the retiree was reporting the annuity under the Simplified Method, the part of each payment that is tax free is the same as the tax-free amount figured by the retiree at the annuity starting date. This amount remains fixed even if the annuity payments are increased or decreased. See Simplified Method under Taxation of Periodic Payments, earlier.
If you receive guaranteed payments as the decedent's beneficiary under a life annuity contract, do not include any amount in your gross income until your distributions plus the tax-free distributions received by the life annuitant equal the cost of the contract. All later distributions are fully taxable. This rule does not apply if it is possible for you to collect more than the guaranteed amount. For example, it does not apply to payments under a joint and survivor annuity.