Convincing a Surviving Spouse to File an Estate Tax Return

The doubled estate and gift tax exemption, albeit temporary, resulting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, has made it more difficult to convince surviving spouses with modest estates to file a Form 706 estate tax return to preserve the deceased spouse’s unused exemption (“DSUE”) amount.  Failure to file a Form 706 causes all of that remaining exemption to be forfeited.

If, as a practitioner, you are unable to convince a surviving spouse to file a Form 706, you’ll want to document your communications with the surviving spouse on this topic.  And, you’re not alone.  According to IRS data, only 681 NONtaxable returns were filed in 2017 claiming  DSUE amounts.

Curry, Jonathan. Getting Surviving Spouse to File Estate Return Now Even Harder. Taxnotes.com. Feb. 1, 2019.

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