Can Loved One’s Funeral Expenses Be Deducted?

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December 6, 2022 •  The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC
The ability to deduct funeral expenses on your tax returns depends on who paid for the funeral expenses.
Robert W. Haley, managing lawyer
Robert W. Haley
Certified Elder Law Attorney® Robert W. Haley brings over 27 years of legal expertise and knowledge to his firm, which concentrates solely on the areas of elder law, estate planning (Last Will & Testaments, Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Trusts, etc.,.) Asset Protection/Medicaid Planning and fiduciary services. For many years, Robert practiced in real estate law, and in general practice, but decided to narrow his focus to elder law and estate planning when he realized the tremendous need for proper planning to be filled in Southside Virginia.

Can funeral expenses be deducted? Many people ask if funeral expenses are tax-deductible. The answer depends on who is paying and what kind of estate is left behind, says MSN’s recent article entitled “10 Tax-Deductible Funeral Service Costs.”  Unfortunately, funeral expenses are not tax-deductible for individual taxpayers. This means that you cannot deduct the cost of a funeral from your individual tax returns.   

While individuals cannot deduct funeral expenses, eligible estates may be able to claim a deduction, if the estate paid these costs. However, if your estate is below the $12,060,000 federal estate tax exemption limit (2022 tax year), you cannot use this deduction. 

 If your estate is above the $12,060,000 federal estate tax exemption limit, you will want to claim eligible deductions to reduce taxes. To claim funeral expenses on the estate’s tax return, you will need to complete Schedule J of Form 706. All eligible expenses should be itemized to describe each expenditure's purpose. If the estate was reimbursed for any funeral costs, that reimbursement must be deducted from your total tax deduction. This includes payments from Social Security, Veterans Affairs, final expense insurance and other sources. 

If you are eligible to deduct funeral expenses on your estate’s tax returns, note that not all funeral expenses are tax-deductible. The following expenses qualify for a tax deduction for eligible estates, if they are reasonable in nature: 

  • Embalming or cremation 
  • Casket or urn 
  • Burial plot and burial (internment)
  • Green burial services 
  • A tombstone, gravestone, or other grave marker 
  • Funeral home facility costs and director fees 
  • Funeral service arrangement costs, including floral and catering services 
  • Transportation costs for the deceased and immediate family members 
  • Religious leader service fees; and 
  • Catering food at the reception. 

Keep a copy of receipts for all expenses. This makes it easier to keep track of the total funeral cost.  You will also need them in an audit.   Non-deductible funeral expenses include travel expenses for funeral guests and any costs paid by a burial or final expense insurance policy or any other life insurance policy. 

For questions like, "Can funeral expenses be deducted?" Reach out to us: We can help! Have a question about handling the estate of a loved one? Book a call with one of our staff members to discuss the situation and see about scheduling an appointment! We have offices located in Bassett, Danville, & Lynchburg to better serve you.

Reference: MSN Oct. 6, 2022) “10 Tax-Deductible Funeral Service Costs” 

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