Should I gift $15,000 to my children annually as part of my estate plan? by Janell M. Sprinkle
The current federal gift tax exclusion allows you to give away up to $15,000 per person annually, to as many individuals as you wish. Whether you will benefit from utilizing this exemption depends on your assets, but for most, at least those with assets under $11.7 million, gifting $15,000 annually does not result in a tax reduction.
The federal government imposes taxes on gifts made during your lifetime and/or at death that exceed certain dollar amounts. The current lifetime exemption for 2021 is $11.7 million per person. This means you have the ability to gift a total of $11.7 million ($23.4 million per married couple) during your lifetime or at death before incurring a federal estate tax. Amounts gifted over the $15,000 annual exemption during your life act to reduce the $11.7 million total available to you at death. For example, if you were to gift an individual $20,000 in one year ($5000 over the annual exemption limit), your available lifetime exemption would be reduced by $5,000. Because the current lifetime exemption is so high, many people will never exceed the $11.7 million limit and thus will never incur a federal estate tax. As such, gifting annually in order to maintain your full lifetime exemption is unnecessary as you are attempting to avoid a tax that you already are not going to have to pay.
Please note, if you gift over $15,000 to an individual in one year, even though you will not incur a tax, you are still required to report the gift by filing IRS Form 709.