Can I deduct funeral expenses?

December 21, 2020 by Steve Banner, EA, MBA

Saying our last goodbyes to a loved one is not only stressful in terms of one's emotional resources, but it can also be a significant strain on one's financial well-being. It's no wonder, therefore, that people often ask if funerals are tax-deductible. After all, medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of my late grandmother's adjusted gross income on Form 1040 can be deductible – and surely a funeral is a medical expense too?

Although this line of reasoning may sound logical to many of us, the tax law disagrees and does not allow a deduction for funeral expenses to be taken on the deceased party's final Form 1040. Nor on the Form 1040 of a relative or any other taxpayer who may have contributed towards paying the costs of the final farewell. According to the tax code, the only medical expenses that qualify for a deduction by a taxpayer are those that were used to prevent or treat a medical illness or condition.

But this is not to say that funeral expenses are never deductible. Funeral and burial expenses can be deducted if they were paid out by the estate of the deceased person. This would happen when the executor or other person responsible for settling the deceased party's estate wants to reduce the estate's overall taxable income. In such cases, the deductible expenses may include expenses such as mortuary, cremation, cemetery, tombstone, burial lot, flowers, luncheon, clergy, and so on.

However, most estates never actually use this deduction since the value of most estates is less than the amount that is subject to tax. But for estates valued above $11.4 million in 2019 or $11.58 million in 2020, deducting funeral expenses on the estate's Form 706 tax return would result in a tax saving.

In other words, our own funeral expenses are not deductible on Form 1040, but if we work hard enough (or hit the lottery), they may be deductible for our estate on Form 706!



Steve Banner, EA, MBA
Tax Content Developer


Steve Banner began his career in the field of income tax in 1977 and has since gathered business experience in a variety of countries and cultures. In addition to the United States, he has lived and worked for extended periods in Australia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Sweden. Along the way he studied Adult Education and earned a Bachelor of Education, Master of Educational Administration, and MBA. He joined TaxAudit in 2016, where he is a Tax Content Developer.


Recent Articles

Estimated Tax Payments
If you happen to miss one of your quarterly estimated tax payments, all is not lost. As soon as you remember, go ahead and make the quarterly payment late.
Internal Revenue Service Sign
If you’ve received an IRS deficiency or IRS determination and disagree with the changes, how can you dispute them? Read on because we’re here to help!
Notepad with IRS written on it
The IRS assessment period is at least six years if enough income was omitted. If the the omission of income was deliberate, the IRS has all the time they want.
Woman sitting with some dogs at a dog kennel facility
Kenneling a dog for work travel is considered a personal expense. However, I wonder if the answer is different if I make income from my dog?
This blog does not provide legal, financial, accounting, or tax advice. The content on this blog is “as is” and carries no warranties. TaxAudit does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, reliability, and completeness of the content of this blog. Content may become out of date as tax laws change. TaxAudit may, but has no obligation to monitor or respond to comments.