FURTHER CHANGES MAY BE NEEDED
When a person receives an asset via the probate process, the transaction must be reported to the IRS, even if it does not trigger any tax liability as to the estate or the recipient. This is because the IRS needs to track the basis of the asset to determine any net capital gains or other calculations for tax liability purposes. Price minus basis equals profit is the rough calculation to determine how much a person realized in a sale, which in turn determines the capital gain on the sale of the asset.
There is a tension built into the system whereby the executor wants to assign the lowest possible value to the asset, so as to keep the value of the estate low, while the beneficiary wants to have the highest possible value assigned so when they dispose of the asset in the future it will incur less tax liability. The IRS sought to address this tension when they lobbied Congress create 26 U.S.C. § 6035, which in turn enabled them to create the new IRS form 8971. Form 8971 requires an executor to notify the IRS which beneficiary receives what and the value of the asset. Part of the same legislation also created 26 U.S.C. § 1014 which requires beneficiaries to use the value of the asset at the date of death for purposes of reporting basis. This value cannot be greater than the amount that the executor reported on the estate tax return.