Update on IRS Procedure for Estate Tax Closing Letters

December 1, 2015Articles Estate Planning Blog

As we reported in early July, the IRS will no longer be automatically issuing estate tax closing letters. The burden is on the executor to request one once four months have passed since the filing of the estate tax return. The IRS has released the following additional guidance:

  1. The request should be made by telephone call to 866.699.4083 and not by letter.
  2. The call must provide decedent’s name, social security number and date of death.
  3. The closing letter will be issued to the executor at the address of record.
  4. Questions about the status of a return should also be made to the same phone number.

It is also worth noting that the IRS change of procedure, presumably done as a cost-saving measure, may delay processes other than its own internal administration of tax returns as (i) the executor will often wait until the closing letter has been received to make distributions and close an estate; (ii) some states (such as New Jersey) that impose an estate tax require the submission of the IRS closing letter before the state will close its own estate tax file; and (iii) title companies may request one when insuring real property that passes at death.