What is a Gift?
The IRS considers anything a gift that you give away forever and the recipient does not give you anything of value in return. An example would be something you sell for less than fair market value. Remember that only the donor is subject to the gift tax. The recipient never pays gift or income tax on gifts received.
The gift tax was created so that taxpayers wouldn’t give away all of their wealth while they were alive as a way to avoid estate taxes after their death.
Four Exceptions to the Gift Tax
- You can give unlimited gifts to your spouse without being subjected to gift tax.
- You can give unlimited gifts to charitable organizations recognized by the IRS under code section 501(c).
- You can pay someone else’s medical bills as a gift, as long as the payments are made directly to a health care provider.
- You can also pay student’s tuition, as long as those payments are made directly to the educational institution.
Annual Gift Tax Exclusion and Gift Splitting
In 2013 you can give $14,000 per year to anyone without triggering gift tax. If you or your spouse makes a gift to anyone, the gift can be considered as made one-half by you and one-half by your spouse. This is known as gift splitting. Currently, gift splitting allows married couples to give up to $28,000 to a person without making a taxable gift. The annual exclusion was just increased to $14,000 in 2013, and is adjusted for inflation annually. The annual exclusion was 13,000 for tax years 2009 through 2012.
If you gift more than the annual exclusion in 2013 you have to file form 709 by April 15, 2014 and either use part of your $5.25 million gift and estate tax exemption amount or pay gift tax rates between 18% and 40% in 2013. Currently the highest federal estate tax rate is 40%.
Congress Made Portability of Your Spouses Unused Basic Exclusion Amount Permanent
If your spouse dies in 2013 without using up their $5.25 million basic exclusion amount you can transfer it to your estate by filing form 706. Note that you must file form 706 to transfer your spouse’s unused exemption even if your spouse owes no federal estate tax.
There are many reasons for gifting including reducing your federal taxable estate. If you have questions about gifting or federal estate tax, feel free to call Gregory J. Spadea at Spadea & Associates, LLC in Ridley Park, PA at 610-521-0604.