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Per IRS Publication 908 Bankruptcy Tax Guide, page 3:

Individuals in Chapter 7 or 11
If the debtor is an individual who files for bankruptcy under chapter 7 or 11, the bankruptcy estate is treated as a new taxable entity, separate from the individual taxpayer.

The estate in a chapter 7 case is represented by a trustee. The trustee is appointed under the Bankruptcy Code to administer the estate and liquidate any nonexempt assets of the estate. In chapter 11, the debtor often remains in control of the assets as a “debtor-in-possession” and acts as the bankruptcy trustee. See Taxes and the Bankruptcy Estate, later.

If the debtor filed a chapter 7 or 11 case, the debtor must file a Form 1040 for the tax year involved. The bankruptcy trustee files a Form 1041 for the bankruptcy estate. If the debtor is in chapter 11 bankruptcy and remain as the debtor-in-possession, the debtor must file both a Form 1040 and the Form 1041 for the bankruptcy estate (if the estate meets the return filing requirements).

If spouses file a joint bankruptcy petition and their bankruptcy estates are jointly administered, their estates must be treated as two separate entities for tax purposes. Two separate tax returns must be filed (if they separately meet the filing requirements).

Return Requirements of the Estate and Payment of Tax

The trustee or debtor-in-possession must file an income tax return on Form 1041 if the estate has gross income that meets or exceeds the amount required for filing. This amount is the total of the personal exemption amount and the basic standard deduction for a married individual filing separately. See the Form 1041 instructions for the current year's amount.

If a return is required, the trustee or debtor-in-possession completes the identification area at the top of the Form 1041 and lines 23–29 and signs and dates it. Form 1041 is a transmittal for Form 1040. Complete Form 1040 and figure the tax using the tax rate schedule for a married person filing separately. In the top margin of Form 1040, write “Attachment to Form 1041. DO NOT DETACH.” Attach Form 1040 to the Form 1041.

Note: The filing of a tax return for the bankruptcy estate does not relieve the individual debtor of his or her tax filing requirement.

Estimated tax.   The trustee or debtor-in-possession must pay estimated tax (if any is due) for the bankruptcy estate. See the Form 1041-ES instructions for information on the dollar limits and exceptions to filing Form 1041-ES and paying estimated tax.

Employer Identification Number.  The trustee (or debtor-in-possession) must obtain an employer identification number (EIN) for a bankruptcy estate if the estate must file any form, statement, or document with the IRS. The trustee uses this EIN on any tax return filed for the bankruptcy estate including estimated tax returns. The trustee can obtain an EIN for a bankruptcy estate by applying:

  • Online by clicking on the EIN link at The EIN is issued immediately once the application information is validated.
  • On the telephone at 1-800-829-4933, or
  • By mailing or faxing Form SS-4.

Trustees representing ten or more bankruptcy estates (other than estates that will be filing employment or excise tax returns) may request a series or block of EINs.

Note: The social security number of the individual debtor cannot be used as the EIN for the bankruptcy estate.

This information is not intended to cover bankruptcy law in general, or to provide detailed discussions of the tax rules for the more complex corporate bankruptcy reorganizations or other highly technical transactions.

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