How to Find Out if a Parent With Dementia Owes Taxes

How to Find Out if a Parent With Dementia Owes Taxes


Question: My mom passed in late 2022. Prior to that, she had dementia for a few years. I have no idea of her past-taxes-due status, and I want to do the right thing. How do I determine the last time she paid taxes and what she owes? — F.F.

Answer: The best way to find out whether your mom owes taxes is to check with the IRS. Be prepared, though, to fill out several forms to get the information you need.

First, you must be able to show proof that you are authorized to manage your mother’s affairs and her estate. So you’ll need a document issued by the probate court (called Letters of Testamentary, Letters of Administration or Letters of Representation) that shows that you have been appointed her executor, estate administrator or personal representative.

Along with the Letters of Testamentary, you also must provide the following to the IRS:

Then, you can request free copies of her tax transcript using Form 4506-T. Be sure to read the instructions for help filling out the form—and for information about where to mail the form.

You’ll want to request (on line 6) transcripts for Form 1040 to find out if she filed individual tax returns in recent years. Check the box on line 6(c) to receive a Record of Account, which will include her return transcript and account transcript that shows payments she made and any balances due. On line 9, you can request transcripts for the current tax filing year and three prior years.

To have the transcripts sent to you rather than the address the IRS has on file for you mom, you’ll need to list your address on line 3 of Form 4506-T and your mom’s address on line 4. You’ll need to submit a Form 8822, Change of Address (and sign it as her representative) if those two addresses are different.

If you have trouble filling out these forms or getting the documents you request, contact your local IRS office to schedule an appointment for in-person help.

For parents with dementia who are living

If you need to find out if a parent you’re caring for has filed tax returns, you also can use Form 4506-T to request transcripts. However, you might need to use a different form to establish that you are authorized to manage your parent’s affairs.

If you are your parent’s court-appointed conservator, you still can use Form 56 (on line 4) to notify the IRS that you are authorized to access Form 4506-T.

If you are your parent’s agent under power of attorney, you will need to fill out Form 2848. On line 5, indicate that you are authorized to access Form 4506-T. Include Form 2848 and a copy of the document naming you power of attorney along with Form 4506-T. For more help filling out Form 2848, follow these instructions.

ASK CAREFULL: If you have a question about your finances or managing the finances of someone you are caring for, you can ask our team of experts at Carefull.

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