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Understanding the Tax Implications of Splitting an Inherited IRA with a Family Member


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Inheritances can be a tricky matter, especially when it comes to dealing with retirement accounts like Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). When you inherit an IRA, it's important to understand the rules and regulations that apply to different situations, especially if you plan to share your inheritance with a non-spouse family member. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of splitting an inherited IRA with a family member and the potential tax implications involved in this process. However, please keep in mind that the information provided here is for informational purposes only, and it's crucial to consult with a tax professional or advisor to address your specific situation.

The 10-Year Rule

If you inherit an IRA from someone other than your spouse, you may be subject to the 10-Year Rule. Under this rule, you are required to withdraw the entire balance of the inherited IRA within ten years following the original account holder's death. While there are no annual required minimum distributions, you must ensure that the account is emptied by the end of the tenth year.

The Gift Scenario

Now, let's delve into the scenario you presented: transferring the contents of your inherited IRA to another family member as a tax-free gift. This is a common question that arises in situations where individuals want to share their inheritance without incurring unnecessary tax burdens. The idea is to open an empty inherited IRA account for the family member and then transfer the assets from your inherited IRA as a tax-free gift.

Tax-Free Gift or Distribution?

The question at hand is whether such a transfer can indeed be classified as a tax-free gift or whether it should be reported as a distribution, subjecting you to regular income tax. The answer to this question primarily depends on how the IRS views this transfer.

Generally, the IRS allows for tax-free transfers between spouses. However, when it comes to non-spouse beneficiaries, the rules are different. If you distribute the funds from your inherited IRA and then gift them to another family member, it might be considered a taxable distribution for you.

In essence, the IRS may not necessarily view it as a gift if you first take a distribution from the inherited IRA and then transfer the funds to another account, even if it is an inherited IRA for the intended family member. It's crucial to remember that the tax code has specific rules governing gifts and inherited IRAs.

IRS Form 709 - Gift Tax Return

If you are considering this scenario, you mentioned reporting the transfer on IRS Form 709, which is used to report gifts. While Form 709 is appropriate for reporting gifts, the key question is whether the transfer from your inherited IRA to the family member's inherited IRA can be considered a gift in the eyes of the IRS. As mentioned earlier, it's possible that the IRS may not classify it as a gift and could treat it as a distribution instead.

Seeking Professional Advice

Given the complexity of the scenario you presented, it is essential to consult with a tax professional or advisor to address your specific circumstances. These experts can provide you with guidance tailored to your unique situation, ensuring that you make informed decisions and stay in compliance with tax regulations.


In conclusion, the desire to split an inherited IRA with a family member while minimizing tax implications is a noble one. However, it's crucial to recognize that the tax implications in such scenarios can be intricate and require a thorough understanding of the tax code. While the idea of opening an empty inherited IRA and transferring the assets as a gift is appealing, it's advisable to consult with a tax professional or advisor to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.

Remember that the rules and regulations surrounding inherited IRAs can change over time, so staying informed and seeking professional guidance is vital to ensure that your financial decisions align with current tax laws and regulations.