If you gave someone gifts valued at more than $13,000 :
You must report the total amount of gifts to the IRS.
You might have to pay tax on the gifts.
If you or your spouse make a gift to a third party, the gift can be considered as made 1 / 2 by you and 1 / 2 by your spouse. This is known as gift splitting. Gift splitting allows you and your spouse to each claim the exclusion, so you can double the exclusion.
Ex: If in 2012 you made a $20,000 gift to someone, you can exclude only $13,000 when figuring the amount of gift tax owed. However, if you elect gift splitting, both you and your spouse can use the $13,000 exclusion individually. So, you'll each be considered to gift $10,000. This will avoid gift tax, since each spouse is now gifting an amount less than their $13,000 exclusion. To elect gift splitting, both you and your spouse must agree to split the gift and file Form 709.
The person who receives your gift doesn't have to report it to the IRS or pay gift or income tax on its value.
Gifts include money and property, including the use of property. Gifts are given without expecting to receive something of equal value in return. You might be making a gift if:
You sell something for less than its value.
You make an interest-free or reduced-interest loan.
There are some exceptions to the tax rules on gifts.
These gifts don't count against the annual limit:
Tuition or medical expenses you pay directly to an educational or medical institution for someone's benefit
Gifts to your spouse
Gifts to a political organization
The money and property you own when you die is known as your estate. It might be subject to federal estate tax. If the estate is worth more than the exclusion amount, it’s usually taxable.
The Economic Growth and Tax Relief and Reconciliation Act (EGTRRA) of 2001 originally repealed the estate tax. Under EGTRRA rules:
There's no estate tax for 2010.
A modified carryover basis system replaces the step-up basis rules for inherited assets.
However, the Tax Relief Act of 2010:
Reinstated the estate tax and the step-up basis rules for those who died in 2010
Increased the estate exemption amount to $5 million
Created a special election that the estate executor can make to use the rules originally in place for 2010. So, there’s no estate tax and the modified carryover basis rules apply.
For 2011, most relatively simple estates didn’t need to file an estate return (Form 706). This was true if the total value of the estate was less than $5 million.
In 2010 only, the executor could have used the modified carryover basis rules to avoid paying estate taxes. This was true only if the value of the estate was more than $5 million. Beneficiaries should have confirmed if the executor used the modified carryover basis.
Relatively simple estates include:
Publicly traded securities
Small amounts of easily valued assets
Those with no special deductions or elections
Property not jointly held
Reduced Tax on Appreciated Securities
You might give your child appreciated securities (Ex: stock or mutual fund shares). If so, the tax bill on the increase in value is passed on to the child along with the gift.
Ex: Stock you bought for $2,500 is now worth $5,000. If you sold the stock, you'd owe tax on the $2,500 gain. Since 15% is the rate on long-term capital gains, it would cost you $375.
If you gave the shares to your child, the same $2,500 would be taxed, but at your child's rate. Your child’s income might be low enough to allow his or her long-term gains to be taxed at the 0% long-term capital-gains rate in effect for 2009 through 2012. So, you eliminate the tax bill.
Under current law, the 0% long-term capital-gains rate for taxpayers in the 10% to 15% tax bracket was extended to Dec. 31, 2012. After this date, the 0% rate will be eliminated. The top tax rate will be 20% on long-term capital gains. The 20% rate will drop to 18% for assets held more than 5 years.