How to Report Irrevocable Trust Income Taxes to the IRS (2023)

An irrevocable trust puts your assets in a protective place until they can be handed off to survivors after your death. After they’re put in the trust, those funds can’t be touched, which means you give up all rights to your assets once they’re in an irrevocable trust. The good news about irrevocable trusts is that they remove you from tax liability on the money you put in there. However, once you’ve died, the estate will be liable for paying taxes on the income that money generated.

Irrevocable Trust Tax Return

An irrevocable trust becomes a separate tax entity, which means a tax return will be submitted on behalf of that trust. The trustee, appointed by the estate, handles making sure that tax return is filed, which starts with applying for a tax ID number. The trustee will report estate taxes using Form 1041, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts. On this form, you’ll disclose any interest income, deductions, gains and losses for the trust. You’ll also report any distributions on this form.

(Video) Income Tax Reporting Requirements for Grantor Trusts

You’ll only need to complete and submit Form 1041 if the estate generates more than $600 in gross income for the tax year. You’ll figure the income similarly to the way you’d calculate income for an individual. However, when you distribute money to beneficiaries, you’ll also need to deduct those distributions and report them using Schedule K-1. When you file depends on whether yours is a calendar year trust or a fiscal year trust. Calendar year trust tax returns must be filed by April 15 of the year following the grantor’s death. Fiscal year trusts are filed by the 15th day of the fourth month after the close of the tax year. If necessary, you can file an extension as you would an individual tax return.

Setting Up a Tax ID

The first thing a trustee will need to do, tax-wise, is set up an irrevocable trust tax ID number with the IRS. This requires applying for an Employer Identification Number, which can be done online for free in a matter of minutes. You can apply through the IRS Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. You can also apply by fax or mail if you prefer, but the approval process will take longer.

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If you apply for your irrevocable trust tax ID number online, the application will walk you through the steps of getting a number for an estate. You’ll choose estate under “What type of legal structure is applying for an EIN?” and then input the requested information about the deceased. You’ll be issued a nine-digit number that will stay with the trust while all the funds are distributed.

Filing Distributions

At some point, the money in the trust will be distributed to survivors under the terms stipulated by the grantor. When this happens, those receiving the distributions will pay taxes on the income-earning portion of the money they receive. Tax laws are set up to avoid double taxation, so this means that the estate can take a deduction on that taxable income when it’s distributed. It’s important to note that while the income on the trust is taxable, the principal is not.

(Video) How are Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts Taxed?

Each beneficiary will receive a Schedule K-1, which will detail the amount paid, as well as the income and losses on the trust. They’ll report the income on their Form 1040, Schedule E, Part III. They won’t need to send a copy of Schedule K-1 in with their tax return. The way you report this income should match what the trust turned in on its tax form. If there are discrepancies, you may need to straighten it out with the trustee. If it still differs, you’ll need to complete Form 8082, Notice of Inconsistent Treatment or Administrative Adjustment Request.

Taxes on Revocable Trust

If you have a revocable trust, the process is a bit different. Unlike irrevocable trusts, revocable trusts can be changed, which means you can add to or even revoke the trust at any time. You’ll also be able to receive any income you earn on the principal. For this reason, you’ll be expected to pay taxes on that income on your own tax return while you’re still alive.

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Upon your death, though, the trust becomes its own entity. You’ll need to create an EIN and file separately, just as you would with an irrevocable trust tax return. If the trust earned income in its final year, the trustee will file that with your own individual tax return for that year, then begin paying taxes as the estate for subsequent tax years. When distributions are made, those are claimed as deductions on the estate’s tax return, just as would happen with an irrevocable trust.

Paying Taxes

There is good news for those who owe taxes on trusts, though. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act dropped the trust tax brackets from its 2017 numbers. Beneficiaries who owe less than $2,550 will pay only 10 percent, down from 15 percent in 2017. Things get more complicated if the trust earns more than $2,550 in income since it’s a set rate plus a percentage. From $2,551 to $9,150, you’ll pay $255 plus 24 percent of the amount above $2,550. From $9,151 to $12,500, you’ll pay $1,839 plus 35 percent of the amount over $9,150, and if your trust earned more than $12,500 in income, the tax will be $3,011.50 plus 37 percent of the excess above $12,500.

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One thing that can be confusing about trust tax brackets is that some trusts follow a fiscal tax year. This means some of your earnings could have fallen in 2017, when rates were higher. In some instances, the IRS requires taxpayers to use a blended 2017 and 2018 tax rate, but not in this one. There is no requirement to use a blended rate with your trust tax this time. You can file your taxes using the 2018 brackets.

Closing an Irrevocable Trust

At some point, an irrevocable trust must come to an end. Usually, this happens once all the property in that trust has been distributed, which leaves nothing in the trust. But trusts may end simply because the grantor specified an end date. Whatever the case, the trustee must pay close attention to whether or not it’s necessary to file an irrevocable trust tax return until the date the trust can be officially seen as reaching an end. Because of this, the end of the trust can be a relief, since it means not having to deal with the paperwork every year.


Once all the assets in the trust have been distributed and it’s empty, you’ll then file a final return using the current trust tax brackets. This is only applicable if the trust had $600 or more in income during that final year. You should also notify each beneficiary in writing, including a final accounting of the trust. In some areas, this written notification and accounting is required by law, so check into this before you send it to make sure you cover all your bases. You won’t need to notify the IRS that your trust is no longer effective. There’s no process in place to cancel an EIN, so it will just remain open indefinitely.


How do I report income from an irrevocable grantor trust? ›

Reg. § 1.671-4(b)(2)(iii), the trustee must file Forms 1099 with the IRS showing the income or proceeds received by the trust during the year and showing the trust as the payor and the grantor as the payee. If the trustee fails to file a correct Form 1099, the trustee is subject to penalties under IRC §§ 6721 and 6722.

How are irrevocable trusts taxed for income tax purposes? ›

An irrevocable trust reports income on Form 1041, the IRS's trust and estate tax return. Even if a trust is a separate taxpayer, it may not have to pay taxes. If it makes distributions to a beneficiary, the trust will take a distribution deduction on its tax return and the beneficiary will receive IRS Schedule K-1.

Can a irrevocable trust income be reported on 1040? ›

Unlike a revocable trust, an irrevocable trust is treated as an entity that is legally independent of its grantor for tax purposes. Accordingly, trust income is taxable, and the trustee must file a tax return on behalf of the trust.

Do you file a tax return for an irrevocable trust? ›

Q: Do trusts have a requirement to file federal income tax returns? A: Trusts must file a Form 1041, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts, for each taxable year where the trust has $600 in income or the trust has a non-resident alien as a beneficiary.

Who pays taxes on irrevocable trust income? ›

Grantor—If you are the grantor of an irrevocable grantor trust, then you will need to pay the taxes due on trust income from your own assets—rather than from assets held in the trust—and to plan accordingly for this expense.

Can IRS touch irrevocable trust? ›

The IRS and Irrevocable Trusts

When you put your assets into an irrevocable trust, they no longer belong to you, the taxpayer (this is different from a revocable trust, where they do still belong to you). This means that generally, the IRS cannot touch your assets in an irrevocable trust.

Does an irrevocable trust need to issue 1099? ›

Irrevocable Trusts

Income of a trust that has a tax identification number is reported to that tax identification number with a Form 1099, and a trust reports its income and deductions for federal income tax purposes annually on Form 1041.

What are the tax brackets for an irrevocable trust? ›

In 2022, irrevocable trusts pay tax at the top tax bracket of 37% when undistributed taxable income is $13,450. Individual beneficiaries pay tax at the top tax bracket when taxable income is $539,900 for singles and $647,850 for married individuals filing jointly.

How are beneficiaries of an irrevocable trust taxed? ›

When an irrevocable trust makes a distribution, it deducts the income distributed on its own tax return and issues the beneficiary a tax form called a K-1. This form shows the amount of the beneficiary's distribution that's interest income as opposed to principal.

How is trust income reported to the IRS? ›

Schedule K-1 (Form 1041), Beneficiary's Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc. Use Schedule K-1 to report a beneficiary's share of the estate's or trust's income, credits, deductions, etc., on your Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Can I use TurboTax for an irrevocable trust? ›

You cannot prepare a Form 1041 Estate and Trust return by using any of the TurboTax online personal tax editions including Free Edition, Deluxe, Premier and Self-Employed. You will need to purchase a separate TurboTax Business product to do so.

What state is an irrevocable trust taxed in? ›

California is unique in that it first taxes a trust if the trust has a California trustee; if not, it then looks to the residence of the non-contingent beneficiaries. California tax on a trust's income can be reduced if a trust with some or all non-resident beneficiaries has a non-resident trustee.

How do I file an irrevocable trust with the IRS? ›

IRS Form for Irrevocable Trust

The legal name of the trust, the Trustee name and address must be given to the IRS. Next, the Trustee should file the Form 1041 – “U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts” with the IRS – if the Irrevocable Trust has more than $600 in taxable income generated annually.

What is the tax filing deadline for an irrevocable trust? ›

Form 1041: 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. For example, for a trust or estate with a tax year ending December 31, the due date is April 15 of the following year.

What happens if a trust does not file taxes? ›

A penalty of 5% of the tax due may be charged each month during which a return is not filed. This will continue to accrue up until a maximum of 25% of the tax due.

What is the downside of an irrevocable trust? ›

The downside to irrevocable trusts is that you can't change them. And you can't act as your own trustee either. Once the trust is set up and the assets are transferred, you no longer have control over them.

Can an irrevocable trust pay its own taxes? ›

One fundamental tax-focused decision when structuring a trust is whether the trust should be a grantor trust or a non-grantor trust. If the former, the grantor will be responsible for paying the income tax on income (including capital gains) produced by the trust assets. If the latter, the trust will pay its own taxes.

Is inheritance from an irrevocable trust taxable? ›

Are Assets Owned by an Irrevocable Trust Subject to Estate Tax? Assets transferred by a grantor to an irrevocable trusts are generally not part of the grantor's taxable estate for the purposes of the estate tax. This means that the assets will pass to the beneficiaries without being subject to estate tax.

How do I get around an irrevocable trust? ›

The two most common ways to terminate and/or modify an irrevocable trust is to 1) argue that there has been a change of circumstances not anticipated by the settlors at the time they created the trust (for example changes in tax law, and 2) argue that all beneficiaries consent to the proposed termination and or ...

Can the IRS audit a trust? ›

In particular, the IRS scrutinizes the use of foreign trusts for possible attempts to shield assets from the U.S. government. Failure to report offshore assets will often trigger an IRS audit that leads to a broader examination of a trust's activities and filings.

Can I spend money in my irrevocable trust? ›

The trustee of an irrevocable trust can only withdraw money to use for the benefit of the trust according to terms set by the grantor, like disbursing income to beneficiaries or paying maintenance costs, and never for personal use.

Do executor fees get reported to IRS? ›

Executor fees are considered taxable income. Some executors consider their services to be a gift to their families and choose to forego the fee. Other executors choose to take the fee because of the complexity of the estate or other factors.

What is the 65 day rule for trusts? ›

Under Section 663(b) of the Internal Revenue Code, any distribution by an estate or trust within the first 65 days of the tax year can be treated as having been made on the last day of the preceding tax year.

Does a trust send out 1099s? ›

Trusts and estates are generally not treated as a “trade or business” and nonprofessional trustees are serving in a capacity that does not qualify as a “trade or business” activity for that individual. Therefore, we generally do not issue 1099s for executor or trustee fees.

Do distributions from a trust count as income? ›

Beneficiaries of a trust typically pay taxes on distributions they receive from the trust's income. However, they are not subject to taxes on distributions from the trust's principal.

Do beneficiaries pay taxes on trust distributions? ›

The income keeps the same character as it had for the trust; for example, if the trust had long-term capital gains and distributes them, the beneficiary has long-term capital gains. This amount is a deduction on the trust's income tax return. So, somebody's going to pay income taxes on any income earned by the trust.

Does an irrevocable trust have to pay capital gains? ›

Although irrevocable trusts are great for distributing assets to beneficiaries, they are also responsible for paying capital gains taxes.

What happens when you inherit money from a trust? ›

The trust itself must report income to the IRS and pay capital gains taxes on earnings. It must distribute income earned on trust assets to beneficiaries annually. If you receive assets from a simple trust, it is considered taxable income and you must report it as such and pay the appropriate taxes.

How do you document trust income? ›

Documentation Requirements

The borrower must provide the most recent two years of signed individual federal income tax returns and the most recent two years of IRS Schedule K-1.

Is it mandatory to file income tax return for trust? ›

It is mandatory for all trusts to e-file income tax return. In case the Trust is required to get its accounts audited, then the income tax return must be e-filed along with the Digital Signature of the Chartered Accountant who is responsible for carrying out the audit.

Should you report trust income? ›

Trusts and estates have to report all income on the tax return and they are allowed deductions for amounts that are required to be distributed to beneficiaries. Form 1041 allows for an “income distribution deduction” that includes the total income reported on all beneficiary K-1s.

Do irrevocable trusts have their own tax ID? ›

Any irrevocable trust is a separate legal entity from its creator for tax purposes, so it must have a separate tax ID and file its own tax return.

Can I file 1041 electronically? ›

Form 1041 was added to the Modernized e-File (MeF) platform on January 2014. MeF can accept the current and prior two tax years. In Processing Year 2022, MeF will accept Form 1041 Tax Years 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Do irrevocable trusts have SSN or EIN? ›

If the trust is irrevocable, on the other hand, it's a separate legal entity. It cannot be changed by the grantor of the trust. The beneficiary would need to allow for any changes on their own end. Consequently, the irrevocable trust will need its own tax ID number, also known as an EIN.

Are revocable and irrevocable trusts taxed differently? ›

In general, irrevocable trusts tend to offer more tax advantages and benefits at the cost of loss of control over those assets. Revocable trusts allow you to maintain control over assets but does not shield them as effectively from taxes.

Does a Grantor Trust file an income tax return? ›

Typically, a trust must file a separate income tax return for each calendar year. However, for most grantor trusts, filing a separate tax return is optional. The general rule and the alternative methods of reporting are described below.

Do I have to file a grantor trust tax return? ›

A grantor trust is considered a disregarded entity for income tax purposes. Therefore, any taxable income or deduction earned by the trust will be taxed on the grantor's tax return.

Do irrevocable trusts issue 1099s? ›

Irrevocable Trusts

Income of a trust that has a tax identification number is reported to that tax identification number with a Form 1099, and a trust reports its income and deductions for federal income tax purposes annually on Form 1041.

How are distributions from irrevocable trusts taxed? ›

When an irrevocable trust makes a distribution, it deducts the income distributed on its own tax return and issues the beneficiary a tax form called a K-1. This form shows the amount of the beneficiary's distribution that's interest income as opposed to principal.

What is the capital gains tax rate for irrevocable trusts? ›

Planning for those trusts is the focus of this article. In 2022, irrevocable trusts pay tax at the top tax bracket of 37% when undistributed taxable income is $13,450. Individual beneficiaries pay tax at the top tax bracket when taxable income is $539,900 for singles and $647,850 for married individuals filing jointly.

Can the IRS seize assets in an irrevocable trust? ›

This rule generally prohibits the IRS from levying any assets that you placed into an irrevocable trust because you have relinquished control of them. It is critical to your financial health that you consider the tax and legal obligations associated with trusts before committing your assets to a trust.

How do you determine if an irrevocable trust is a grantor trust? ›

An irrevocable trust is a grantor trust when the trust continues to use the grantor's tax identification number. While the assets are removed from the estate for estate tax purposes, the grantor continues to be liable for the trust's income taxes.

Does a beneficiary of an irrevocable trust pay taxes? ›

Trust beneficiaries must pay taxes on income and other distributions that they receive from the trust. Trust beneficiaries don't have to pay taxes on returned principal from the trust's assets. IRS forms K-1 and 1041 are required for filing tax returns that receive trust disbursements.

Who is the responsible party when applying for an irrevocable trust EIN? ›

The "responsible party" is the individual or entity that controls, manages, or directs the entity and the disposition of the entity's funds and assets, unlike a nominee, who is given little or no authority over the entity's assets.

Does an irrevocable trust always have an EIN? ›

Does an irrevocable trust need an EIN? An irrevocable trust needs an EIN if it produces income. Any irrevocable trust is a separate legal entity from its creator for tax purposes, so it must have a separate tax ID and file its own tax return.


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