A Deceased Estate’s Tax Affairs: What You Need To Know

Finalising the tax affairs of a deceased estate is a crucial step in the estate administration process, ensuring compliance with tax obligations and providing closure for beneficiaries. To streamline this process and avoid potential liabilities, it’s essential to follow a comprehensive checklist.

  1. Lodging and Finalising Tax Returns

The first step in finalising the estate’s tax affairs is to lodge the date of death tax return for the deceased person and any outstanding tax returns for previous years. This includes submitting any other returns or information the deceased person requires, such as business activity statements. Ensure all returns are lodged accurately and promptly to avoid penalties or delays.

  1. Ceasing Taxable Activities

Once all necessary tax returns have been lodged, ensure that the deceased estate is no longer earning taxable income. This may involve finalising the deceased estate’s last trust tax return, if applicable, and ceasing any business tax registrations held by the estate, such as the Australian business number (ABN), GST, and pay-as-you-go (PAYG) withholding registrations.

  1. Settling Tax Liabilities

Separate the tax liabilities of the deceased person from those of the deceased estate trust, accounting for them separately while recognising that they are all liabilities of the same general deceased estate. Offset any refunds against liabilities to determine the net tax position of the estate. Ensure that all tax liabilities are paid or fully provided for before making final distributions to beneficiaries or a testamentary trust.

  1. Handling Insolvency

If the estate is insolvent and unable to cover its liabilities, familiarise yourself with the succession laws of the relevant State or Territory governing the administration of insolvent estates. Seek professional guidance if needed, and notify the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) of the estate’s financial position to assess the action required regarding tax liabilities.

  1. Seeking Certainty

Consider whether the estate meets the conditions outlined in Practical Compliance Guideline PCG 2018/4, which allows an authorised Legal Personal Representative (LPR) to finalise the estate without incurring personal liability for the deceased person’s tax. These conditions include obtaining probate or letters of administration, meeting specific asset and income criteria, and fulfilling all tax obligations of the deceased person.

Finalising the tax affairs of a deceased estate is a critical aspect of estate administration, ensuring compliance with tax laws and providing certainty for beneficiaries.

By following a comprehensive checklist and addressing each step diligently, Executors and LPRs can navigate the complexities of estate taxation, minimise risks, and achieve closure for all parties involved.

Where necessary, seeking professional advice and guidance can further facilitate the process and ensure compliance with legal requirements. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – a registered tax agent like us can assist you.