Surviving Spouses: IRS Simplifies Method to File for Portability

By: Rose Du – Senior Tax Associate, Thompson Greenspon

The release of Rev. Proc. 2017-34 offers taxpayers a simplified method to extend the filing of Form 706, “United States Estate (and Generation Skipping Transfer) Tax Return” when filing for portability.

A portability election allows the surviving spouse to use any unused lifetime exclusion from the deceased spouse. The lifetime exclusion is $5.49 million for taxpayers who pass away in 2017. The election for portability was to be made on a timely filed Form 706. Failure to timely file meant getting relief by filing for a private letter ruling and paying a user fee of $10,000.

Rev. Proc. 2017-34 is in response to the overwhelming requests for private letter ruling from estates looking for relief from failing to file an Estate Tax Return and electing portability.

The newly revised and simplified method now gives an automatic extension when filing for portability.

This is available to the estate if:

  1. The decedent was survived by a spouse.
  2. The decedent died after December 31, 2010.
  3. The decedent was a citizen or a resident of the U.S. on date of death.
  4. The executor/personal representative was not required to file an estate tax return as determined based on the gross value of the estate and adjusted taxable gifts and without regard to the need to file for portability purposes.
  5. The executor/personal representative did not file an estate tax return within the time required.

The requirements for relief are as follows:

  1. File a complete and properly prepared Form 706 on or before the later of January 2, 2018, or the second anniversary of the decedent’s death.
  2. The statement “FILED PURSUANT OF REV. PROC. 2017-34 TO ELECT PORTABILITY UNDER SECTION 2010(c)(5)(A)” must be included at the top of the Form 706.

Please keep in mind that the relief is deemed to be null and void if it is determined after the grant of relief that the estate was required to file an estate tax return (based on the value and adjusted taxable gifts).

If you have any questions about the information provided in this article, please contact our office at 703.385.8888 or info@tgccpa.com.


Rose Du

About Rose:

Rose is a senior tax associate with Thompson Greenspon and has 10 years of experience in public accounting, with a focus on estate, gift and trust tax.  She is a graduate of George Mason University with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting.


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