General Instructions

Purpose of Form

Form 56 is used to notify the IRS of the creation or termination of a fiduciary relationship under section 6903 and provide the qualification for the fiduciary relationship under section 6036.

Form 56 cannot be used to update the last known address of the person for whom you are acting. Use Form 8822, Change of Address, to update the last known address.

Who Should File

Form 56 should be filed by a fiduciary (see Definitions below) to notify the IRS of the creation or termination of a fiduciary relationship under section 6903. For example, if you are acting as fiduciary for an individual, a decedent’s estate, or a trust, you may file Form 56.

Receivers and assignees for the benefit of creditors also file Form 56 to give notice of qualification under section 6036. However, a bankruptcy trustee, debtor-in-possession, or other like fiduciary in a bankruptcy proceeding is not required to give notice of qualification under section 6036. Trustees, etc., in bankruptcy proceedings are subject to the notice requirements under title 11 of the United States Code (Bankruptcy Rules).

Do not use Form 56 if you are notifying the IRS that you are the authorized representative of the taxpayer. Instead, use Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative.

A fiduciary is treated by the IRS as if he or she is actually the taxpayer. Upon appointment, the fiduciary automatically has both the right and the responsibility to undertake all actions the taxpayer is required to perform. For example, the fiduciary must file returns and pay any taxes due on behalf of the taxpayer.

An authorized representative is treated by the IRS as the agent of the taxpayer. He or she can only perform the duties authorized by the taxpayer, as indicated on Form 2848. An authorized representative is not required nor permitted to do anything other than the actions explicitly authorized by the taxpayer.

Definitions

Fiduciary.   A fiduciary is any person in a position of confidence acting on behalf of any other person. A fiduciary assumes the powers, rights, duties, and privileges of the person or entity on whose behalf he or she is acting. Examples of fiduciaries include administrators, conservators, designees, executors, guardians, receivers, trustees of a trust, trustees in bankruptcy, personal representatives, persons in possession of property of a decedent’s estate, or debtors-in- 
possession of assets in any bankruptcy proceeding by order of the court.

Person.   A person is any individual, trust, estate, partnership, association, company, or corporation.

Decedent’s estate.   A decedent’s estate is a taxable entity separate from the decedent that comes into existence at the time of the decedent’s death. It generally continues to exist until the final distribution of the estate’s assets is made to the heirs and other beneficiaries.

Terminating entities.   A terminating entity, such as a corporation, partnership, trust, etc., only has the legal capacity to establish a fiduciary relationship while it is in existence. Establishing a fiduciary relationship prior to termination of the entity allows the fiduciary to represent the entity on all tax matters after it is terminated.

When and Where To File

Notice of fiduciary relationship.   Generally, you should file Form 56 when you create (or terminate) a fiduciary relationship. File Form 56 with the Internal Revenue Service Center where the person for whom you are acting is required to file tax returns.

Proceedings (other than bankruptcy) and assignments for the benefit of creditors.   A fiduciary who is appointed or authorized to act as:
  • A receiver in a receivership proceeding or similar fiduciary (including a fiduciary in aid of foreclosure), or

  • An assignee for the benefit of creditors, must file Form 56 on, or within 10 days of, the date of appointment with the Advisory Group Manager, of the area office of the IRS having jurisdiction over the person for whom you are acting. See Pub. 4235, Collection Advisory Group Numbers and Addresses, for more information.

  The receiver or assignee may also file a separate Form 56 with the service center where the person for whom the fiduciary is acting is required to file tax returns to provide the notice required by section 6903.


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