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A comprehensive guide to IRS Form 56 for expats

A comprehensive guide to IRS Form 56 for expats

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or tax advice.

Always consult with a tax professional for your specific circumstances.

IRS Form 56, or the "Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship," is a crucial document for anyone assuming fiduciary responsibilities.

It formally notifies the IRS when someone takes on the management of another's tax matters – vital for executors, trustees, or guardians managing tax issues, especially from abroad.

Handling someone’s fiscal responsibilities is not just about numbers;
it's about maintaining trust and integrity in every transaction. – Wendy C. (CPA)

Understanding IRS Form 56

IRS Form 56 is not just another form, it's the IRS's way of saying, "Tell us who's in charge here!"

Form 56 serves to inform the IRS about the individuals who are authorized to handle tax matters on behalf of others.

This could involve estates, trusts, or incapacitated individuals, making it particularly relevant for expatriates managing stateside affairs.

Who needs to file Form 56?

Filing Form 56 is mandatory for anyone who has been legally appointed to manage another person’s tax responsibilities.

This includes:

  • Executors of estates
  • Trustees of trusts
  • Guardians or conservators for minors or incapacitated adults

Key sections of Form 56

Form 56 is divided into multiple parts, each requiring specific information:

Part I: Identification and Authority

This section is where you spell out who you are, who you're representing, and why you have the authority to do so.

You'll need to check the appropriate box to indicate your fiduciary capacity – whether it's due to a court appointment or other reasons like bankruptcy or a valid trust instrument.

Part II: Revocation or Termination

Here, filers must indicate whether they are terminating or amending previous fiduciary notices filed with the IRS.

Part III and IV: Legal Proceedings and Signature

These sections are used to record any relevant legal proceedings and include the fiduciary's signature, attesting under penalty of perjury that the information provided is accurate.

Form 56 preview



Filing tips for Form 56

  1. Accuracy is crucial: Ensure all information is correct to prevent processing delays or IRS inquiries.
  2. Understand your fiduciary role: Clearly understand your responsibilities as they relate to US tax law to manage affairs effectively.
  3. File promptly: Submit Form 56 as soon as the fiduciary relationship is established or terminated to keep IRS records up to date.
  4. Updates: If information changes after submission, update the IRS accordingly to maintain accurate records.
  5. Pro advice: Consider consulting a tax professional, especially if managing complex estates or trusts.

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Why Form 56 matters for expats

For expats, managing fiscal responsibilities from abroad is tricky enough.

Form 56 adds an extra layer of responsibility, especially when dealing with estates or trusts that involve US tax obligations.

It’s not just about staying compliant; it’s about protecting the financial interests of those you’re representing.

Bottom line

Form 56 is more than just paperwork; it is a critical tool in managing fiduciary responsibilities under US tax law.

Proper completion and timely filing can significantly streamline your interactions with the IRS and ensure compliance with the tax obligations of the individuals or entities you represent.

Armed with the right information and resources, expatriates can effectively handle these duties from anywhere in the world.

Ines Zemelman, EA
Founder of TFX