Annual Gift Tax Exclusion Remains at $13,000 for 2010


 Late in 2009, the IRS announced that the annual gift tax exclusion will remain unchanged in 2010 at $13,000. Under the Tax Code, this amount is adjusted based upon the Consumer Price Index. The annual gift tax exclusion amount was last changed at the beginning of 2009 when the amount increased from $12,000 to $13,000. 

If a gift is less than the exclusion amount, then (i) no gift tax will be due, (ii) no gift return must be filed, and (iii) the donor’s lifetime gift-tax exemption (currently $1 million) is not reduced. This is one of the few “free Bingo spots” in the Tax Code.

The gift tax exclusion amount applies on a per-donor, per-donee basis. This means that a married couple can make gifts to a single donee equal to $26,000. For example, a married couple with two children can make gifts totaling $52,000 per year. 

For cash gifts, the amount of the gift is equal to (not surprisingly) the amount of cash given. However, for gifts of property (both real property and personal property), the value of a gift for this purpose is based upon the fair market value of the property on the date the gift is made. Often, gifts of property have significant estate planning benefits (more on these issues in a later blog article).

I welcome your comments and questions!