Bill Wandel – Enrolled Agent
Thinking about giving someone a substantial gift? Worried how or if it will affect your taxes?
Well, depending on what the gift is or how substantial the gift is, you may not have to pay any taxes. And, for those actually receiving the gift, you won’t have to pay any taxes on it at all.
Gifts that are not taxable include: tuition or medical expenses paid directly to an education or medical institution on behalf of someone; gifts to your spouse; gifts to a political organization for its use; and gifts to charities.
For those gifts that are taxable, the current threshold is any gift(s) to an individual that exceeds $12,000 in fair market value per year. Any taxpayer who gives gifts to one person that exceeds $12,000 per year must report the total gifts to the IRS. For married couples, you and your spouse can consent to gift splitting, thereby qualifying up to $24,000 per individual recipient.
Gifts that can qualify for the threshold include money, real estate, personal property, below market interest loans and future interests in property.
Now here’s the twist. Even though you may be required to file and report gifts to individuals in excess of the annual threshold amount, you can currently avoid a tax liability by using your unified lifetime credit against transfer tax. That unified lifetime credit amount is $345,800. What this means is any unified credit used against a gift tax in one year reduces the amount of credit that can be used against the gift tax in a later year.
Here’s an example, to clear up any confusion.
In the year 2007, you give a nephew a cash gift of $8,000, and then give your daughter and son $25,000 each. The first $12,000 given to one individual in 2007 is not a taxable gift, so the $8,000 you gave to your nephew and the first $12,000 given to both your daughter and son are not taxable gifts.
Now, the gift tax on $26,000, which is the $13,000 remaining from your gift to your daughter and the $13,000 remaining from your gift to your son, is $5,120, per the table for computing gift tax. You will then subtract the $5,120 from the unified credit of $345,800 for 2007, reducing the amount of the unified credit that can be used against the gift tax in a later year to $340,680. Thus, no gift tax needs to be paid for 2007. But Form 709 still has to be filed with your return.
For more information on gift taxes, you can refer to Publication 950, which can be found on the IRS website at www.irs.gov.
Bill Wandel has over 30 years of combined experience in private and public accounting. He has been associated with JK Harris since 2001, serving the company as a Licensed Taxpayer Representative. Bill has worked 17 years as a taxpayer advocate.