File an Estate Tax Income Tax Return


An estate administrator must file the final tax return for a deceased person separate from their estate income tax return. The types of taxes a deceased taxpayer's estate can owe are:

  • Income tax on income generated by assets of the estate of the deceased. If the estate generates more than $600 in annual gross income, you are required to file Form 1041, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts. An estate may also need to pay quarterly estimated taxes. See Form 1041 instructions for information on when to file quarterly estimated taxes.

Assets that Generate Income to an Estate

When someone dies, their assets become property of their estate. Any income the assets generate become part of the estate and may require you to file an estate income tax return. Some examples of income producing assets:

  • CDs
  • Bonds
  • Mutual funds
  • Rental property
  • Savings accounts
  • Stocks

Tax ID or Employer Identification Number

Before you file an estate income tax return, you need a tax identification number for the estate. An estate's tax identification number, also called an employer identification number (EIN), comes in this format: 12-345678X. You can apply for this number online, by fax or by mail. See how to apply for an EIN. Use the tax ID number when filing Form 1041.

Income Distribution Deduction

A deceased person's estate figures its gross income in much the same manner as an individual. See the definition of adjusted gross income. Most deductions and credits allowed to individuals are also allowed to estates and trusts. However, a trust or an estate may also have an income distribution deduction for distributions to beneficiaries.

Report income distributions to beneficiaries and to the IRS on Schedule K-1 (Form 1041).

  • For calendar year estates and trusts, file Form 1041 and Schedule(s) K-1 on or before April 15 of the following year.
  • For fiscal year estates and trusts, file Form 1041 by the 15th day of the 4th month following the close of the tax year.

5-Month Extension to File

If you need more time to file Form 1041, apply for an automatic 5-month extension. Submit Form 7004, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File Certain Business Income Tax, Information, and Other Returns.