Estate, Gift, and Trust Tax Filing

You have spent years accumulating wealth for the benefit of your loved ones—through your own hard work, the careful stewardship of family wealth, or both. It’s important to consider the tax implications of how that wealth is transferred, and to understand how to file the necessary tax documents correctly and on time.

Estate, gift, and trust tax filing can be complicated, and the consequences of errors costly and significant. At Gudorf Law Group, we regularly assist our clients in the accurate and timely filing of state and federal tax forms, and coordinate as needed with their attorneys and financial planners.

Estate Tax Filing

Ohio has not had an estate tax since 2013, and the federal lifetime exclusion rate is at a historic high, meaning that only a very small percentage of Ohio estates will be subject to estate tax. However, as of December 31, 2025, the rate will revert to its 2017 level (adjusted for inflation), and more Ohio families will be exposed to federal estate taxation.

Even if a deceased individual’s estate is not required to pay tax, there may still be estate tax return filing requirements. Among the forms a personal representative of an estate may need to file are:

  • Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return. This document must be filed by mail within nine months of the decedent’s date of death.
  • Forms 706-A, 706 GS (D-1),706-NA, and 706-QDT are forms that supplement Form 706 and may be required under certain circumstances.
  • Form 4768, which provides an automatic six-month extension of the deadline to file Form 706.
  • Form 1041, Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts, which may be needed to report income earned between the date of death and the date estate assets are distributed to heirs or beneficiaries.

The Tax Code, including provisions regarding estate tax are subject to change, making estate tax filing requirements especially complex. Gudorf Tax Group can ensure that your estate tax filing is complete, timely, and accurate.

Gift Tax Filing

An individual taxpayer can make a gift of up to $16,000 annually to another individual without triggering the need to file a gift tax returns. A married couple can give double that exclusion amount, or $32,000, to each recipient. This is called “gift splitting,” and you may be required to file a gift tax return (Form 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return.

You also need a gift tax filing form if you (as an individual) give assets or cash worth more than $16,000 to any one person in a calendar year. For instance, if you gave a grandchild a car valued at $25,000, you would need to file a gift tax return. However, filing a gift tax return does not necessarily mean that you will owe gift tax; the excess above your annual gift tax exclusion simply reduces your lifetime gift and estate tax exclusion, also called the “lifetime exemption.”

Your gift tax return is due on April 15 of the year following the year in which the gift was made. It is important to timely file your return or Form 8892 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File Form 709). There is a gift tax return late filing penalty of 5% of the value of the gift per month that the gift remains unreported, up to 25% of the value of the gift.

Certain gifts, like those between spouses, are not subject to gift tax reporting. If you have questions about whether you should be filing a gift tax return, Gudorf Tax Group can advise you and assist you with your gift tax filing.

Trust Tax Filing

If you are the trustee of a trust, you are responsible for filing a trust tax return. Income and expenses for a trust are reported on Form 1041. Depending on the terms of the trust, the trust may be responsible for paying any tax that is due, or the trust beneficiaries may be obligated to pay the tax.

The trust tax return filing deadline is typically April 15 of the year following the tax year for which the return is being prepared. As with estate tax filings and gift tax filing, you can apply for an automatic six month extension of time to file the trust tax return.

Even if a trustee applies for an extension to file a tax return, the taxpayer will be responsible for interest that accrues on any unpaid taxes. In addition, if a tax return is not timely filed and an extension has not been requested, there will be additional penalties: 5% of the tax due per month, up to 25% of the total tax due. There are penalties for failure to pay tax in addition to penalties for failure to report it.

In addition to filing a trust tax return, trustees are obligated to provide beneficiaries who receive distributions of trust property with a Schedule K-1. Failure to do so may result in a $100 penalty per beneficiary who did not receive the form.

Filing a trust tax return can be a daunting experience, but you don't have to navigate it alone. Gudorf Tax Group can advise you and prepare all necessary forms, coordinating with your attorney if needed.

The Bottom Line

Estate, gift, and trust taxes are unfamiliar territory for most taxpayers. Don’t risk exposure to penalties; schedule an appointment today with the accounting and tax preparation professionals at Gudorf Tax Group.