The pandemic brought by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has taken the lives of almost 200,000 Americans since March. As of the time of this writing, we have lost over 2,000 Tennesseans alone: 2,000 or more Tennesseans whose surviving families are now having to potentially navigate the probate process and deal with filing estate tax returns. The purpose of this blog entry is to explain how Tennesseans can obtain previously filed tax documents on behalf of their deceased relative so that they may administer the decedent's estate.
Generally, IRS Form 2848 is what an individual taxpayer will file to notify the IRS that someone else, either someone exercising power of attorney or a person who is considered eligible to practice before the IRS such as a licensed attorney, has authority to receive, discuss, and inspect the taxpayer's confidential tax information. This is not the case when requesting previously filed tax returns on behalf of a decedent.
To obtain copies of a decendent's previously filed tax returns, an individual needs to prepare a letter which must include (1) the decedent's legal name, (2) the address used by the decedent for IRS filings, and (3) the decedent's social security number. Then, the person requesting tax information will need to supply the IRS with a copy of the decedent's death certificate along with Letters Testamentary issued by a probate court or IRS Form 56 if Letters Testamentary have not issued. IRS Form 56 is the IRS form which notifies the IRS that a fiduciary relationship between the taxpayer and the fiduciary has been created or is being terminated.
Once an individual completes the above requirements, they have two options depending on their needs. They can either (1) request formal copies of previously filed income tax returns, or (2) request transcripts of previously filed income tax returns. To obtain copies of previously filed tax returns, a fiduciary will need to complete IRS Form 4506 and be prepared to pay a fee for each tax return requested. IRS Form 4506 may be submitted by mail. If the fiduciary only needs a transcript of a tax return they may file IRS Form 4506-T, which contains most of the line item entries from the original tax return and may also provide information from accompanying W-2s, 1099s, or 1098s if properly requested. IRS Form 4506-T may be submitted either by mail or electronically, and the information contained in the transcript may also be obtained by calling the IRS provided the above documentation is on file.
This is a very difficult time for everyone, and the attorneys and staff at Litchford, Pearce & Associates, PLLC, stand ready and able to assist you with any legal or tax matter that may have arisen as a result of COVID-19. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or want to work through your situation.