What Is Form 1041: U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts?
Form 1041 is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) income tax return filed by the trustee or representative of a decedent's estate, trust, or the bankruptcy estate. Part of Section 1041 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), Form 1041 is used to declare any taxable income that an estate or trust generated after the decedent passed away and before designated assets were transferred to beneficiaries.
- Form 1041 is a tax return filed by estates or trusts that generated income after the decedent passed away and before the designated assets were transferred to beneficiaries.
- The executor, trustee, or personal representative of the estate or trust is responsible for filing Form 1041.
- Form 1041 does not need to be filed if the estate or trust generated an annual gross income (AGI) less than $600 unless one of the beneficiaries is a nonresident alien.
- Certain income or deductions may require a complementary form or schedule.
- Form 1041 is due by the fifteenth day of the fourth month after the close of the tax year and can be sent electronically or by mail.
Understanding Form 1041
Form 1041 details income earned by an estate or trust from the time of the decedent's death until the assets are distributed to beneficiaries. During this period, income can be generated from stocks, bonds, mutual funds, savings accounts, rented property, and a final paycheck.
As with other income tax returns, deductions, and capital losses can reduce the amount of money owed. Any income earned before the date of death is reported on the decedent's final tax return, a separate document filed by the estate executor. Assets passed straight to the beneficiary and not held by the estate or trust are not included on Form 1041.
Form 1041 applies to federal taxation. Some estates and trusts may also have to pay income taxes at the state level.
Instructions to Complete Form 1041
The executor, trustee, or personal representative of the estate or trust is responsible for filing Form 1041 if the assets they oversee produce an annual gross income (AGI) greater than $600. When one of the beneficiaries is a nonresident alien, a return must be filed even if no income was generated.
Form 1041 consists of three pages for basic information about the estate or trust, breaking down income and deductions, and then tallying everything to generate a tax bill using the Schedule G worksheet from the second page. Disclosures are included for charitable donations and the distribution of income to beneficiaries, followed by an "other information" section.
You’ll need to identify yourself and provide the name of the estate or trust and its address. The deceased and their estate are separate taxable entities, meaning a new taxpayer identification number (TIN) must be obtained. To file Form 1041, the estate or trust will need an employer identification number (EIN), a unique nine-digit number assigned to a business entity to pay taxes. This ID can be procured by applying online at IRS.gov/EIN or by mailing or faxing Form SS-4: Application for Employer Identification Number.
Income earned by the estate or trust is reported on lines 1 to 9 of the 1041 tax return. Each source of income, such as interest, dividends, capital gains, rents, and royalties, appears in a separate row. For some types of income, you’ll attach an extra relevant form.
Some income or deductions require filing an additional complementary form or “schedule.” Schedules A (Charitable Deduction), B (Income Distribution Deduction), and G (Tax Computation and Payments) are part of Form 1041.
The estate or trust is permitted to subtract certain expenses from their gross income to reduce the amount that is subject to taxation. Form 1041 filers must disclose these deductions on lines 10 through 22.
Form 1041 is available on the IRS website.
Money transferred to beneficiaries can be deducted. Whenever a beneficiary receives a distribution from the estate or trust, they should be issued a Schedule K-1 detailing the amount, which they will then report as income on their tax return. The person responsible for filing Form 1041 will total these K-1s and detail everything in Schedule B, which can be found on page 2 of Form 1041.
Tax and Payments
After inputting income and deductions, you’ll use the Schedule G worksheet for this phase of the return and, as with the rest of the form, carefully consult the IRS’ line-by-line instructions to avoid making errors.
Follow the IRS’ line-by-line instructions, especially if you’re filing Form 1041 alone without an expert. Mistakes can be costly and get you in trouble, so take your time and double-check all the information is entered correctly.
How to File Form 1041
According to the IRS, estates or trusts must file Form 1041 by “the fifteenth day of the fourth month after the close of the trust's or estate’s tax year.” Usually, the calendar year starts on the day of the death and ends on Dec. 31, and the Form 1041 due date of April 15 of the following year.
The executor or trustee can use a fiscal year (FY) instead, and the tax year ends on the last day of the month before the first anniversary of death. If the decedent passed away June 1, the FY would run until May 31 of the following year, with Form 1041 due Sept. 15 or the next business day.
Form 1041 can be sent via mail or found on the IRS’ website—click here to download a full copy. Once you have it open on your screen, you can fill it out and save it on your computer, or print it out and complete it by hand.
Send Form 1041 Online
Qualified fiduciaries are able to file Form 1041 and related schedules electronically over the internet but only after they have been granted e-file provider status—a process that can take four to six weeks to complete.
Mail Form 1041
It’s possible to mail a paper copy of Form 1041 and related schedules. Use the correct address, which depends on where the estate or trust is located and whether the filer sends a check or money order for any taxes due. To determine the address, consult this page on the IRS website. If Form 1041 is e-filed, you cannot send associated schedules by mail.
Who Has to File a Form 1041?
The executor, trustee, or personal representative of an estate or trust that generates more than $600 in annual gross income (AGI) after the decedent passes away and before the assets are distributed to their beneficiaries is required to file Form 1041. Alternatively, if one of the beneficiaries is a nonresident alien, the form must be filed regardless of whether any income was produced.
Who Pays the Tax on Form 1041?
The estate or trust holding the assets that are generating an income.
Are Funeral Expenses Deductible on Form 1041?
No. According to the IRS, funeral expenses are only deductible on Form 706, a separate tax return used by an executor of a decedent’s estate to calculate the estate tax owed and to compute the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax.
The Bottom Line
Form 1041 is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) income tax return filed by the trustee or representative of a decedent's estate or trust. The form consists of three pages, requiring basic information about the estate or trust and detailing its income and deductions. The IRS requires estates or trusts to file Form 1041 by the fifteenth day of the fourth month after the close of the tax year.