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Can a trust choose a fiscal year instead of a calendar year for tax purposes?

Los Angeles, CA |

Father just died and his trust became irrevocable. I need to get a tax ID for the trust. I want to know if I can choose a fiscal year for the trust. It will make things easier given that my father died so late in the year.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    In general trusts are required to file on a calendar year. However, there is an exception if the trust makes what is sometimes called "the 645 election," (so named because it arises under Internal Revenue Code section 645) to treat the trust income tax return as if it was the estate tax return. I've attached a link to form 8855, which is the form used to make the 645 election. Estates (and trusts making this election) are allowed to file using a fiscal year, so long as the fiscal year end is no later than the end of the month prior to the month of death (for example, if father died on 10/5, fiscal year could end no later than the following 9/30). A good CPA experienced in dealing with fiduciary income taxation will be a great help to you.
    Also, the fiscal year end is established when you file the first 1041, and you are NOT necessarily bound by the answer you put on the SS-4 (or application for EIN, if you're applying for the Tax ID online or by phone).

    My answer should be considered general in nature, not legal or tax advice, and not one that forms an attorney client relationship. I am licensed in Tennessee and Virginia.


  2. In most cases, yes. Contact a CPA and an attorney if you are administering a trust. Remember you are a fiduciary.

    This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature. Visit Steve Zelinger's website: http://www.stevenzelinger.com/


  3. I agree with Mr. Zelinger that you should contact an attorney and a CPA familiar with fiduciary income tax returns. In order to elect a fiscal year a trust needs to make a Section 645 election to be treated as an estate. There are limitations, but based on the limited info you provided, you qualify. Talk to advisors for more information.

    DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION PRESENTED HERE IS GENERAL IN NATURE. IT IS NOT INTENDED, NOR SHOULD IT BE CONSTRUED, AS LEGAL ADVICE. THIS RESPONSE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US. YOU SHOULD CONSULT WITH A QUALIFIED ATTORNEY FOR SPECIFIC LEGAL ADVICE ABOUT YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION.

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