The Federal Gift Tax

The federal gift tax applies to transfers of property during an individual’s lifetime. 

Federal Gift Tax Exclusion Amount

In 2009 a person can give any other person up to $13,000 without any gift or estate tax implications.  If in 2009 a wealthy grandfather gave $13,000 to each of his grandchildren, each of his children, each of his children’s spouse or partner, he could reduce the size of his estate by a great deal. 

If the gift from one person to another exceeds $13,000 (in 2009), then a gift tax still may not have to be paid.

There is a $1,000,000 gift tax exclusion amount for gifts made during life.  The exclusion applies to gifts not covered by the annual gift tax exclusion. 

The gift tax exclusion amount is unified with the estate tax exclusion amount.  So, the amount of the gift tax exclusion used during life reduces dollar for dollar your estate tax exclusion amount.

Annual Gift Tax Exemption Amount

Effective January 1, 2009, the annual gift tax exemption amount increased from $12,000 to $13,000.  You can make cash gifts of up to $13,000 annually to as many individuals as you wish without paying any gift tax. 

Gifts of more than $13,000 a year to the same person are subject to the gift tax. 

A gift tax return must be filed by April 15 of the year following the year in which the gift was made.  If the gift is equal to less than $13,000, no return has to be filed.

Gifts not subject to the Gift Tax

  1. Payment of educational tuition for another person.  The payment must be made directly to the educational institution.
  2. Payment of medical expenses for another person.  The payment must be made directly to the person or institution that provides the medical care.