Gifting can play an important role in reducing estate tax exposure. A gift is the transfer of real and personal property such as real estate, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, certificates of deposit, equipment, livestock, or cash, to beneficiaries before your death. Gifting removes all future appreciation on the gifted property from the taxable estate. It can also accomplish income tax savings during life by shifting income producing property from one family member to another who is in a lower tax bracket.
The lifetime gift exemption for 2012 is set at $5.12 million dollars. However, it is scheduled to be reduced to $1 million dollars in 2013 unless Congress acts. If you don’t use the current gift tax exemption, you could lose it.
In addition to your lifetime exemption, each donor may give $13,000 this year ($14,000 beginning in 2013) per person, without any gift tax consequences. To qualify for the annual exclusion, the gift must be a present interest gift (rather than a future interest). Annual exclusion gifts can be outright or in trust.
Assume that a husband and wife have two children, each of whom is married, and each of whom has two unmarried children. This couple could give away a total of $208,000 this year without using up any part of their lifetime exemption. (Each parent could give $13,000 to each child, each child-in-law, and each grandchild, for a total of eight individual recipients, or $104,000 of gifts for the husband and $104,000 of gifts for the wife. In 2013, each parent may gift an additional $1,000 per recipient.)
A gift will qualify for the $13,000 annual exclusion only if it is a gift of a “present interest.” Generally, this means that the (current year) gift must be made outright to the recipient, or (in the case of a person under age 21) to a Custodianship under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, or to certain kinds of trusts (typically, a “Crummey Trust”.) The “present interest” limitation may require that the asset given away be income-producing or currently salable by the recipient.
For more information regarding estate planning, business law or tax controversy and compliance, please visit the Hoffman & Associates website at www.hoffmanestatelaw.com or call us at 404-255-7400.
In accordance with IRS Circular 230, this article is not to be considered a “covered opinion” or other written tax advice and should not be relied upon for IRS audit, tax dispute, or any other purpose. The information contained herein is provided “as is” for general guidance on matters of interest only. Hoffman & Associates, Attorneys-at-Law, LLC is not herein engaged in rendering legal, accounting, tax, or other professional advice and services. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a competent professional advisor.