As a fiduciary of an estate or trust, you're responsible for filing an annual income tax return with the IRS on Form 1041. The form declares all income earned by the entity, as well as deductions and tax payments made during the year. This being tax law, nothing is quite as simple as it should be, and you will be responsible for filling out and attaching several forms to 1041.
If your estate or trust had business income, you must attach the standard IRS Schedule C or C-EZ to declare gross income, deductions and net taxable income. You calculate capital gains on Schedule D and income from rents, royalties and partnerships on Schedule E. Farm income, if any, goes on Schedule F, and "ordinary gains" from the sale or exchange of business property go on Form 4797.
The IRS gives estates and trusts several deductions, some of which you must document. These include interest paid out. If you have investment interest to deduct, you must attach Form 4952. Estates and trusts can also deduct charitable donations, which are documented with Form 1041-A. If you've made a noncash donation valued at more than $500, then you must file Form 8323; donations valued at more than $5,000 require a qualified appraisal. If the estate made a distribution to a beneficiary, that expense can also be deducted; a Form K-1 must be filed for each beneficiary that received a distribution.
The third and final section of Form 1041 deals with tax payments made by the estate or trust throughout the year. If you've allocated these payments to beneficiaries of the trust, you must attach Form 1041-T. If you filed for an automatic extension of time to file the return, and paid a portion of the tax due with the request, you must add a copy of the Form 7004 with which you made the request.
The IRS employs several forms that are required for use in certain situations. For example, if your estate or trust is claiming a credit for foreign taxes paid, you must attach Form 1116. Other credits may include a general business credit (Form 3800); a credit for prior year minimum tax (Form 8801); and bond credits (Form 8912). For household employment taxes the entity paid, you file Form 1040, Schedule H; for recapture taxes, the appropriate form may be a 4255 or an 8611. You must also attach separate explanations and calculations if you are filing an amended 1041.
- IRS.gov: Form 1041 -- U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts
- IRS.gov: Form 1041 -- Instructions for Form 1041
- IRS.gov: Topic 506: Charitable Contributions
- IRS.gov: Form 1041-A: U.S. Information Return Trust Accumulation of Charitable Amounts
- Internal Revenue Service. "About Form 1040-A, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return." Accessed June 25, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "1040A Instructions 2017," Page 13. Accessed June 25, 2020.
- U.S. Senate Committe on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. "FAFSA Simplification Act of 2019." Accessed June 25, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "1040 and 1040-SR Instructions Tax Year 2019," Page 6. Accessed June 25, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "1040 and 1040-SR Instructions Tax Year 2019," Page 3. Accessed June 25, 2020.
Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.