Seven Tips to Help You Determine if Your Gift is Taxable

If you gave money or property to someone, you may wonder about the federal gift tax.  Here are seven tax tips about gifts and the gift tax.

  1. Nontaxable Gifts.  The general rule is that any gift is a taxable gift.  However, there are exceptions to this rule.  The following are not taxable gifts:
  • Those that do not exceed the annual exclusion for the calendar year
  • Tuition or medical expenses you paid directly to a medical or educational institution for someone
  • Gifts to your spouse (for federal tax purposes, the term “spouse” includes individuals of the same sex who are lawfully married)
  • Gifts to a political organization for its use
  • Gifts to charities
  1.  Annual Exclusion. There is usually no tax if you make a gift to your spouse or to a charity.  If you give a gift to someone else, the gift tax usually does not apply until the value exceeds the annual exclusion for the year.  For 2014 and 2015, the annual exclusion is $14,000.
  2. No Tax on Recipient.  Generally, the person who receives your gift will not have to pay a federal gift tax.  That person also does not pay income tax on the value of the gift received.
  3. Gifts Not Deductible.  Making a gift does not ordinarily affect your federal income tax.  You cannot deduct the value of gifts you make (other than deductible charitable contributions).
  4. Forgiven and Certain Loans.  The gift tax may also apply when you forgive a debt or make a loan that is interest-free or below the market interest rate.
  5. Gift-Splitting.  You and your spouse can give up to $28,000 to a third party without making it a taxable gift.  You can consider that one-half be given by you and one-half by your spouse.
  6. Filing Requirement.  You must file Form 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, if any of the following apply:
  • You gave gifts to at least one person (other than your spouse) that amount to more than the annual exclusion for the year.
  • You and your spouse are splitting a gift.  This is true even if half of the split gift is less than the annual exclusion.
  • You gave someone (other than your spouse) a gift of a future interest that they can’t actually possess, enjoy, or from which they’ll receive income later.
  • You gave your spouse an interest in property that will terminate due to a future event.


(Excerpted from IRS Tax Tip 2015-51)

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2 comments on “Seven Tips to Help You Determine if Your Gift is Taxable
  1. Lois Lawhead says:

    Very informative! What are the tax implications for someone who has been the recipient of gifts? At what point is it taxable income?

    • For most gifts they are taxable to the giver not the receiver. Any gift given becomes part of the givers lifetime giving limits which is currently 5.43 million. If the gift is a Traditional IRA and is transferred to the receiver’s social security number, then the receiver would pay taxes on the IRA as the money is withdrawn. If the money is withdrawn before their 59½ years old there would additionally be a 10% penalty. I hope that answers your question. Jennie

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