A fiduciary is any person in a position of confidence acting on behalf of any other person. A fiduciary assumes the powers, rights, duties, and privileges of the person or entity on whose behalf he or she is acting. Examples of fiduciaries include administrators, conservators, designees, executors, guardians, receivers, trustees of a trust, trustees in bankruptcy, personal representatives, persons in possession of property of a decedent’s estate, or debtors-in-possession of assets in any bankruptcy proceeding by order of the court.
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An individual or entity that is willing to accept fiduciary responsibility for tax matters must file an IRS Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship to be able to act as the taxpayer with the IRS. This form is typically filed when an individual becomes incapacitated, decides to delegate his or her tax responsibilities, or the individual dies.
Form 56 differs from a Form 2848, Power of Attorney form which allows a representative to act on behalf of the individual. With Form 2848, the taxpayer is still responsible for filing and paying his or her taxes on time and is ultimately responsible for any actions the representative takes on his or her behalf (such as making the payments on an installment agreement the representative set up on his or her behalf).
Once a fiduciary files a Form 56, the fiduciary takes on the duties and responsibilities of the taxpayer and must file and pay the individual’s taxes and handle any other tax issues that arise while the Form 56 is in place.
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