Gift Tax - Don't Worry - Be Happy!!

Posted by Jeffrey EdwardsDec 04, 20230 Comments

Gift Tax: Do I Have to Pay Tax When Someone Gives Me Money?  Don't Worry Be Happy!!

If you get an unexpected gift or early inheritance from mom and dad – do you have to pay taxes on it?

Well – In 2019, a gift of $15,000 or less in a calendar year doesn't even count.  If a couple makes a gift from joint property, the IRS considers the gift to be given half from each. Mom and Dad can give $30,000 with no worries.

A couple can also give an additional gift of up to $15,000 to each son-in-law or daughter-in-law.

The annual limit from one couple to another couple, therefore, is $60,000 ($15,000 X 4 = $60,000). If you split the gifts – it can avoid any potential taxes.

In addition, some transfers of money are never considered to be gifts, no matter the amount.  For purposes of the gift tax, it's not a gift if the gift is given to a husband or wife as long as the recipient is a U.S. citizen.  Also, if you pay money directly to an educational institution or pay directly to a medical provider.

Now – get ready for this – For most people gift tax will never be an issue as the person who makes the gift files the gift tax return, if necessary, and pays any tax.

This confuses people.  Many people confuse the requirement of filing a gift tax return with an obligation to pull out their checkbook and make a tax payment.   It actually works as follows:

If someone gives you more than the annual gift tax exclusion amount ($15,000 in 2019), the giver must file a gift tax return. That still doesn't mean they owe gift tax.

A giver can give up to 15,000.00 to one person before they have to file a return.  So if the giver gives you  $16,000 in one year, and you and the giver are both single. The giver must file a gift tax return, showing an excess gift of $1,000 ($16,000 – $15,000 exclusion = $1,000).

Each year, the amount a person gives other people over the annual exclusion accumulates until it reaches the lifetime gift tax exclusion, which in 2019, is $11.4 million.  Therefore, a taxpayer does not pay gift tax until they have given away over $11.4 million in their lifetime.

So – Don't Worry – Be Happy when mom and dad give you an unexpected gift.