IRS reduces estate tax return retention period


The IRS recently announced changes to its estate tax, and related gift tax, return retention period. Due to the volume of these documents, storage costs, and the rarity of requests for these paper returns, the IRS is reducing the retention period from 75 years to 40 years. The IRS also announced it will destroy estate tax and related gift tax returns that are older than 40 years.

Because of these changes, taxpayers may want to request older estate returns—including attachments—before these documents are destroyed. Related attachments may include appraisals, gift tax returns and other required documents. The deadline to request returns older than 40 years is Feb. 11, 2022.

To request an older estate tax return, a taxpayer must have authorization to receive tax information of a decedent or their estate. Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return should be used to request an estate tax return. There is also a fee for each return requested.

In addition, taxpayers should submit the following with any request:

  • The decedent’s complete name, address and Social Security Number
  • A copy of the death certificate, and either:


Tax professional standards statement

This content supports Grant Thornton LLP’s marketing of professional services and is not written tax advice directed at the particular facts and circumstances of any person. If you are interested in the topics presented herein, we encourage you to contact us or an independent tax professional to discuss their potential application to your particular situation. Nothing herein shall be construed as imposing a limitation on any person from disclosing the tax treatment or tax structure of any matter addressed herein. To the extent this content may be considered to contain written tax advice, any written advice contained in, forwarded with or attached to this content is not intended by Grant Thornton LLP to be used, and cannot be used, by any person for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code.

The information contained herein is general in nature and is based on authorities that are subject to change. It is not, and should not be construed as, accounting, legal or tax advice provided by Grant Thornton LLP to the reader. This material may not be applicable to, or suitable for, the reader’s specific circumstances or needs and may require consideration of tax and nontax factors not described herein. Contact Grant Thornton LLP or other tax professionals prior to taking any action based upon this information. Changes in tax laws or other factors could affect, on a prospective or retroactive basis, the information contained herein; Grant Thornton LLP assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any such changes. All references to “Section,” “Sec.,” or “§” refer to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.


More tax hot topics