Tag Archives: direct cremation

Are Direct Cremations Tax Deductible?

We at Cremation Society of America are often asked by our clients whether Direct Cremations are tax deductible. The short answer for Individual Taxpayers is No. But this merits further explanation. We also strongly recommend that you consult with your tax specialist.

These days, the median cost of a funeral can be $8,000 with many exceeding $10,000. Of course, a Direct Cremation is far more affordable option for a loved one. Even so, some families, upon advice from a trusted resource or due to reading an article, etc. are tempted to deduct funeral expenses on their personal income tax return. We suggest that you resist this temptation as you run the risk of an IRS audit and the heavy fines and penalties that come with it. The last thing you need after the loss of a loved one is to endure an IRS audit!

Estates: Claiming a Deduction

Funeral expenses are only deductible if they paid by a previously-established Estate. An Estate can be defined as everything comprising the net worth of an individual, including all land, possessions and other assets r that the individual owns or has a controlling interest in. As such, individuals cannot claim funeral expenses on their income tax returns (IRS Form 1040) and funeral expenses cannot be itemized or deducted on the decedent’s final tax return.

Per the IRS ‘Miscellaneous Deductions” guide (Publication 529), “Burial or funeral expenses, including the cost of a cemetery lot” are nondeductible. Please also keep in mind that if you pay funeral expenses for a loved one or other individual, you cannot treat those expenses as a medical deduction on your tax return.

Estate: Claiming a Deduction

The appropriate way to deduct funeral expenses is for the Estate to pay the burial costs and then claim the deduction for estate tax purposes on IRS Form 706 (United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return). The funeral expense deduction is one of several deductions that are used to determine the taxable estate, resulting in the taxable amount of the Estate. The executor or administrator of the estate is responsible for filing IRS Form 706, and such executor/administrator must attach a death certificate per the Form 706. The executor/administrator should notify the family involved in the Estate as well as those making funeral arrangements that reimbursement for funeral expenses may be affected by IRS regulation and other laws. Again, we cannot stress enough that you consult with your Tax Specialist and possibly an Estate Attorney for guidance and advice.

Can any costs be Deducted?

Itemized funeral expenses that may be eligible for deduction may include but not be limited to:

  • Cost to purchase a burial plot or mausoleum space and any reservations
  • Headstone or grave marker and related expenses
  • Funeral director fees, embalming and body preparation charges
  • Ceremony or viewing/visitation expenses, including – flower arrangements, food, audio visual presentations, clergy honorarium
  • Casket costs and interment fees
  • Transportation expenses such as transporting your loved one to and from the funeral home, hearse/limousine and driver costs

If the decedent’s Estate is reimbursed for any funeral costs, the reimbursement must be deducted from total expenses before claiming the deduction on Form 706 – this includes any federal payments such as Social Security or Veterans death benefits.

The person or family representative responsible for making the funeral arrangements and paying the resulting expenses should retain and preserve all invoices, receipts, contracts, agreements, etc. Note that the Estate may not receive full reimbursement if the funeral costs are deemed unreasonable, or the Estate becomes insolvent. This is why Pre-Planning for funeral or Cremation services can be so very helpful to your family during such a challenging time.

Do you have questions about arranging a Direct Cremation and whether any aspect can be tax deductible? Please feel free to give us a call. One of our Direct Cremation Specialists is here for you.

Why are Direct Cremations more Popular than Funeral Services?

Cremations have overtaken traditional burials with more than 50 percent of all Americans choosing cremation and the percentage is expected to continue to increase. In addition, more and more families are choosing Direct Cremation instead of traditional funeral services. Funeral service providers across the nation reported that 70 to 80 percent of their services feature Direct Cremation.

A Direct Cremation, sometimes called a “Simple Cremation” or “Immediate Cremation” is when the cremation is performed soon after death, without a viewing, visitation or funeral service of any kind.

Oftentimes, people assume that the term “Direct Cremation” means the deceased is taken from the place of death directly to the crematory. This is not the case. Death Certificates, contracts and state required permits must all be completed before the cremation can actually take place or be scheduled, often several days later.

Why is direct cremation gaining popularity?

Many funeral service providers state that approximately 80 percent of their clients request Direct Cremations. Why are families overwhelmingly choosing Direct Cremations?

There are two main reasons behind such great popularity of direct cremation.

  • Affordability
  • Flexibility

So, let’s have an in-depth look at how Direct Cremation changed the funeral services landscape.

Direct Cremation is more cost-effective than traditional funeral services!

Funeral expenses have grown out of reach of the average family. Most families simply cannot absorb the cost of the average funeral, which can be upwards of $6,000 and oftentimes $10,000 when additional costs such as mortuary fees are included. Keep in mind that this is for an average, run-of-the-mill funeral service. Many funeral services can cost much more.

The Simple Fact is that most families are striving to make ends meet and have not set aside funds for a funeral service for their loved ones. Unless their loved one had an estate or Pre-Paid for preplanned services, the family is put in a difficult fiscal situation.

Direct Cremation has emerged as an affordable alternative.  In most cases, a Direct Cremation will cost no more than 40 percent of the cost of a basic funeral service. When arranged through a funeral home, a direct cremation package could cost up to $2,000.

With the advent of Direct Cremation providers, a Direct Cremation package can be purchased for less than half the price, from $600 to $995.

Arranging on time memorial services, place to suit family needs and budget

A Direct Cremation gives the family the flexibility to arrange for a memorial service – or multiple memorial services – at the date, time and locale of the family’s choosing, thereby avoiding the costs of a casket and funeral services. NOTE: If you choose to hold a service before the cremation, you would be engaging in a “traditional cremation” and not a Direct Cremation.

Direct Cremation also provides for nearly limitless ways for your loved one to present with you whether inside of an urn in your home or office or within cremation jewelry that can be shared with any number of loving family and friends.

Direct Cremation: Dressing Your Loved One

Children are capable of wonderful questions. During a recent client meeting, a young child asked us whether his grandmother would be cremated with her clothes on. What an amazing yet simple question! We thought that this would be a good time to explain how to dress your loved one for a Direct Cremation.

For thousands of years, deceased loved ones were buried or cremated in special or ceremonial clothing and accompanied by valuable items, keepsakes or mementos. These days, there are certain types of clothing as well as certain items that cannot be included in a Cremation.

A traditional cremation arranged with a funeral home will include the loved one being dressed and clothed by a funeral home representative prior to the viewing, services and cremation. The family provides the funeral home with the clothing of their choosing. Some funeral homes also provide the family with option to actually dress their loved one at the funeral home. In certain instances, the funeral home may also have clothes that can be purchased.

By comparison, Direct Cremation services do not include viewings or dressing services. In most cases, people are cremated in either a sheet or the clothing they are wearing upon arrival to the crematory. However, most Direct Cremation providers give you and your family the option to fully dress your loved one prior to Direct Cremation.

Not all clothing can be cremated

It’s important to keep in mind that not all clothing and materials are permitted into the cremation chamber. Certain materials cannot be cremated because they are not combustible and could damage the chamber or associated equipment. We recommend that you avoid dressing your lived one in clothes that feature metallic buttons, zippers, or snaps.

Materials that CANNOT be cremated include:

  • Metal
  • Plastic
  • Glass
  • Clothes made from synthetic materials that may be hazardous to burn
  • Electronic devices or implants such as pacemakers or hearing aids

It may seem like common sense but here are materials that CAN be cremated:

  • Clothing made with natural materials such as cotton or wool
  • Cardboard or paper-based
  • Wood

Please be sure to check with your Direct Cremation provider to confirm which clothing or outfit is appropriate for Cremation. There are various laws and regulations governing materials that can and cannot be cremated and they vary from state to state.

Dressing your loved one for Direct Cremation

Remove the clothing your loved one was wearing when he/she passed away. Funeral home professionals prefer to cut clothing off when dressing a loved one. You should do the same as it will make the process easier.

Although it is not necessary for Direct Cremation, some families prefer to wash or clean their loved one, especially for religious reasons. Soap, water, and a washcloth are perfectly fine for this. Please be sure to dry his/her skin thoroughly after you’re done washing.

To dress your loved one in pants:

Press the pants so that the bottom cuffs are pressed against the seat of the garment. Lift the legs of your loved one and steadily slide the pants over both legs, pulling them up as high as possible -this should be above the thigh.

Then, roll your loved one over onto one side. Using the belt, pull the pants the rest of the way up to your loved one’s waist. Then repeat with the opposite side. Fasten the pants closed and you’re done.

To dress your loved one in a shirt, dress or skirt:

Slowly split the garment straight up the back with a fine pair of scissors. Then place the shirt, dress or skirt over your loved one and wrap it around him/her. For shirts or dresses, be sure to place his/her arms into the sleeves and slide up his/her arms prior to tucking the shirt or dress underneath your loved one.


Now you can add socks, shoes, scarves, kerchiefs and other accessories. 
Then you carefully and gently groom your loved one by brushing or combing his/her hair, applying makeup, and any other grooming that you prefer. Please note that any prohibited materials in your loved one’s clothing or accessories will be removed by the crematory representatives prior to cremation. 

Once you’re done dressing your loved one, your Direct Cremation provider will take it from there, including transportation, all documentation and certifications, verification and placement in the urn or vessel of your choosing.


Please contact us at Cremation Society of America for more information regarding our Direct Cremation services to provide you and your family with peace of mind. We can also help you pre-plan all of your Direct Cremation services to meet your needs. We look forward to being of service to you and your family.

What is a Direct Cremation?

“Direct Cremation”, sometimes called “Simple Cremation” or “Immediate Cremation” is when the cremation is performed soon after death, without a viewing, visitation or funeral service of any kind. Aspects of a Direct Cremation can include:

  • The body is cremated immediately after death. This enables you to engage directly with a crematory service provider such as Cremation Society of America, rather than a funeral home
  • The deceased is cremated in a simple vessel or container instead of an expensive casket
  • Since a Direct Cremation does not involve a visitation, wake or viewing prior to cremation, there is no need for embalming or other measures to preserve the deceased for extended periods
  • A Direct Cremation gives the family the flexibility to arrange for a memorial service – or multiple memorial services – at the date, time and locale of the family’s choosing, thereby avoiding the costs of a casket and funeral services. NOTE: If you choose to hold a service before the cremation, you would be engaging in a “traditional cremation” and not a Direct Cremation.

Oftentimes, people assume that the term “Direct Cremation” means the deceased is taken from the place of death directly to the crematory. This is not the case. Death Certificates, contracts and state required permits must all be completed before the cremation can actually take place or be scheduled, often several days later.

How to Arrange a Direct Cremation: In most cases, the crematory staff will be able to handle all aspects of the cremation, including completion of the death certificate and transporting the deceased to the crematory – all for a nominal fee.  Also, a crematory will often change a fraction of the price that a funeral home might charge for the same services.

Please keep in mind that, per to the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule (effective in 1984 and amended in 1994), you have the following rights when it comes to planning a direct cremation:

  • You are never required to use or purchase a casket for direct cremation
  • The funeral home or crematory you engage must make available to you an unfinished wood box or alternative container for the cremation
  • If you provide an urn or other keepsake vessel to the crematory, the crematory must return the cremated remains to you in the urn that you provided. Should you not provide an urn or vessel, the crematory must return the cremated remains to you in a container, which may be a cardboard box

Why Choose Cremation Society of America?

Cremation Society of America (“CSA”) is your trusted provider of Cremation services. Since we at CSA focus solely on Cremation – and leave funerals, burials and ceremonies to others – we can offer cost-effective Direct Cremation services without sacrificing the dignity or solemnity of your love one.

We offer the most efficient online process in the industry as well as 24 x 7 Cremation Consultants who are ready to answer any and all questions during such a troubling time for your family.

Please contact CSA for your Cremation pre-planning needs. We look forward to being of service to you and your family.