Requests for extension to file Form 1041.(p2)
The automatic extension of time to file Form 1041, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts, has been decreased from six months to five months. You can request an automatic 5-month extension of time to file Form 1041 by filing Form 7004, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File Certain Business Income Tax, Information, and Other Returns.
Throughout this publication, section references are to the Internal Revenue Code unless otherwise noted.taxmap/pubs/p559-000.htm#en_us_publink100099481
Estate tax return.(p2)
Generally, if the decedent died during 2008, an estate tax return (Form 706) must be filed if the gross estate is more than $2,000,000.taxmap/pubs/p559-000.htm#en_us_publink100099482
Estate tax repeal.(p2)
The estate tax is repealed for decedents dying after 2009 and before 2011. taxmap/pubs/p559-000.htm#en_us_publink100099483
Consistent treatment of estate and trust items.(p2)
Beneficiaries must generally treat estate items the same way on their individual returns as they are treated on the estate's return. taxmap/pubs/p559-000.htm#en_us_publink100099484
Individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).(p2)
The IRS will issue an ITIN to a nonresident or resident alien who does not have and is not eligible to get a social security number (SSN). To apply for an ITIN, file Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, with the IRS. It may take up to 6 to 10 weeks to get an ITIN.
An ITIN is for tax use only. It does not entitle the holder to social security benefits or change the holder's employment or immigration status under U.S. law.taxmap/pubs/p559-000.htm#en_us_publink100099485
Photographs of missing children.(p2)
The Internal Revenue Service is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.
This publication is designed to help those in charge of the property (estate) of an individual who has died (decedent). It shows them how to complete and file federal income tax returns and points out their responsibility to pay any taxes due.
A comprehensive example, using tax forms, is included near the end of this publication. Also included at the end of this publication are the following items.
- A checklist of the forms you may need and their due dates.
- A worksheet to reconcile amounts reported in the decedent's name on information Forms W-2, 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, etc. The worksheet will help you correctly determine the income to report on the decedent's final return and on the return for either the estate or a beneficiary.
We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can write to us at the following address:
Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526
Washington, DC 20224
We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.
You can email us at *firstname.lastname@example.org.
(The asterisk must be included in the address.) Please put "Publications Comment" on the subject line. Although we cannot respond individually to each email, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.
You may want to see:
Publication 950 Introduction to Estate and Gift Taxes 3920 Tax Relief for Victims of Terrorist Attacks 4492 Information for Taxpayers Affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma Form (and Instructions) 1040: U.S. Individual Income Tax Return 1041: U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts 706: United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return 1310: Statement of Person Claiming Refund Due a Deceased Taxpayer
See How To Get Tax Help near the end of this publication for information about getting publications and forms.taxmap/pubs/p559-000.htm#en_us_publink100099487
A personal representative of an estate is an executor, administrator, or anyone who is in charge of the decedent's property. Generally, an executor (or executrix) is named in a decedent's will to administer the estate and distribute properties as the decedent has directed. An administrator (or administratrix) is usually appointed by the court if no will exists, if no executor was named in the will, or if the named executor cannot or will not serve.
In general, an executor and an administrator perform the same duties and have the same responsibilities.
For estate tax purposes, if there is no executor or administrator appointed, qualified, and acting within the United States, the term executor includes anyone in actual or constructive possession of any property of the decedent. It includes, among others, the decedent's agents and representatives; safe-deposit companies, warehouse companies, and other custodians of property in this country; brokers holding securities of the decedent as collateral; and the debtors of the decedent who are in this country.
A personal representative for a decedent's estate can be an executor, administrator, or anyone in charge of the decedent's property, so the term personal representative will be used throughout this publication.taxmap/pubs/p559-000.htm#en_us_publink100099488
The primary duties of a personal representative are to collect all the decedent's assets, pay the creditors, and distribute the remaining assets to the heirs or other beneficiaries.
The personal representative also must perform the following duties.
- Apply for an employer identification number (EIN) for the estate.
- File any income tax return and the estate tax return when due.
- Pay the tax determined up to the date of discharge from duties.
Other duties of the personal representative in federal tax matters are discussed in other sections of this publication. If any beneficiary is a nonresident alien, see Publication 515, Withholding of Tax on Nonresident Aliens and Foreign Entities, for information on the personal representative's duties as a withholding agent.
There is a penalty for failure to file a tax return when due unless the failure is due to reasonable cause. Reliance on an agent (attorney, accountant, etc.) is not reasonable cause for late filing. It is the personal representative's duty to file the returns for the decedent and the estate when due. taxmap/pubs/p559-000.htm#en_us_publink100099490
The first action you should take if you are the personal representative for the decedent is to apply for an EIN for the estate. You should apply for this number as soon as possible because you need to enter it on returns, statements, and other documents that you file concerning the estate. You also must give the number to payers of interest and dividends and other payers who must file a return concerning the estate.
You can get an EIN by applying online at www.irs.gov/businesses
or by calling 1-800-829-4933, Monday through Friday. Generally, if you apply online, you will receive your EIN immediately upon completing the application. You can also apply using Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number. Generally, if you apply by mail, it takes about 4 weeks to get your EIN. See the form instructions for other ways to apply.
Payers of interest and dividends report amounts on Forms 1099 using the identification number of the person to whom the account is payable. After a decedent's death, the Forms 1099 must reflect the identification number of the estate or beneficiary to whom the amounts are payable. As the personal representative handling the estate, you must furnish this identification number to the payer. For example, if interest is payable to the estate, the estate's EIN number must be provided to the payer and used to report the interest on Form 1099-INT, Interest Income. If the interest is payable to a surviving joint owner, the survivor's identification number must be provided to the payer and used to report the interest.
If the estate or a survivor may receive interest or dividends after you inform the payer of the decedent's death, the payer should give you (or the survivor) a Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification (or a similar substitute form). Complete this form to inform the payer of the estate's (or if completed by the survivor, the survivor's) identification number and return it to the payer.
The deceased individual's identifying number must not be used to file an individual tax return after the decedent's final tax return. It also must not be used to make estimated tax payments for a tax year after the year of death.taxmap/pubs/p559-000.htm#en_us_publink100099491
If you do not include the EIN or the taxpayer identification number of another person where it is required on a return, statement, or other document, you are liable for a penalty for each failure, unless you can show reasonable cause. You also are liable for a penalty if you do not give the taxpayer identification number of another person when required on a return, statement, or other document.taxmap/pubs/p559-000.htm#en_us_publink100099492
The term fiduciary means any person acting for another person. It applies to persons who have positions of trust on behalf of others. A personal representative for a decedent's estate is a fiduciary.
If you are appointed to act in any fiduciary capacity for another, you must file a written notice with the IRS stating this. Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship, can be used for this purpose. The instructions and other requirements are given on the back of the form.
File Form 56 as soon as all of the necessary information (including the EIN) is available. It notifies the IRS that, as the fiduciary, you are assuming the powers, rights, duties, and privileges of the decedent, and allows the IRS to mail to you all tax notices concerning the person (or estate) you represent. The notice remains in effect until you notify the IRS (by filing another Form 56) that your relationship to the estate has terminated. taxmap/pubs/p559-000.htm#en_us_publink100099493
The IRS ordinarily has 3 years from the date an income tax return is filed, or its due date, whichever is later, to charge any additional tax that is due. However, as a personal representative, you may request a prompt assessment of tax after the return has been filed. This reduces the time for making the assessment to 18 months from the date the written request for prompt assessment was received. This request can be made for any tax return (except the estate tax) of the decedent or the decedent's estate. This may permit a quicker settlement of the tax liability of the estate and an earlier final distribution of the assets to the beneficiaries. taxmap/pubs/p559-000.htm#en_us_publink100099494
Form 4810, Request for Prompt Assessment Under Internal Revenue Code Section 6501(d), can be used for making this request. It must be filed separately from any other document.
As the personal representative for the decedent's estate, you are responsible for any additional taxes that may be due. You can request prompt assessment of any of the decedent's taxes (other than federal estate taxes) for any years for which the statutory period for assessment is open. This applies even though the returns were filed before the decedent's death. taxmap/pubs/p559-000.htm#en_us_publink100099495
If you or the decedent failed to report substantial amounts of gross income (more than 25% of the gross income reported on the return) or filed a false or fraudulent return, your request for prompt assessment will not shorten the period during which the IRS may assess the additional tax. However, such a request may relieve you of personal liability for the tax if you did not have knowledge of the unpaid tax. taxmap/pubs/p559-000.htm#en_us_publink100099496
An executor can make a request for discharge from personal liability for a decedent's income, gift, and estate taxes. The request must be made after the returns for those taxes are filed. To make the request, file Form 5495, Request for Discharge From Personal Liability Under Internal Revenue Code Section 2204 or 6905. For this purpose, an executor is an executor or administrator that is appointed, qualified, and acting within the United States.
Within 9 months after receipt of the request, the IRS will notify the executor of the amount of taxes due. If this amount is paid, the executor will be discharged from personal liability for any future deficiencies. If the IRS has not notified the executor, he or she will be discharged from personal liability at the end of the 9-month period.
Even if the executor is discharged from personal liability, the IRS will still be able to assess tax deficiencies against the executor to the extent that he or she still has any of the decedent's property.
Generally, if a decedent's estate is insufficient to pay all the decedent's debts, the debts due the United States must be paid first. Both the decedent's federal income tax liabilities at the time of death and the estate's income tax liability are debts due the United States. The personal representative of an insolvent estate is personally responsible for any tax liability of the decedent or of the estate if he or she had notice of such tax obligations or had failed to exercise due care in determining if such obligations existed before distribution of the estate's assets and before being discharged from duties. The extent of such personal responsibility is the amount of any other payments made before paying the debts due the United States, except where such other debt paid has priority over the debts due the United States. The income tax liabilities need not be formally assessed for the personal representative to be liable if he or she was aware or should have been aware of their existence. taxmap/pubs/p559-000.htm#en_us_publink100099499
All personal representatives must include in their gross income fees paid to them from an estate. If paid to a professional executor or administrator, self-employment tax also applies to such fees. For a nonprofessional executor or administrator (a person serving in such capacity in an isolated instance, such as a friend or relative of the decedent), self-employment tax only applies if a trade or business is included in the estate's assets, the executor actively participates in the business, and the fees are related to operation of the business.