The 2012 gift tax annual exclusion allows you to give up to $13,000 per recipient tax-free without using up any of your lifetime gift tax exemption. If you and your spouse “split” the gift, you can give $26,000 per recipient. The exclusion is scheduled to increase to $14,000 ($28,000 for split gifts) in 2013.
The gifted assets are removed from your taxable estate, which can be especially advantageous if you expect them to appreciate. That’s because the future appreciation can avoid gift and estate taxes.
But you need to use your 2012 exclusion by Dec. 31 or you’ll lose it. The exclusion doesn’t carry from one year to the next. For example, if you don’t make an annual exclusion gift to your grandson this year, you can’t add $13,000 to your 2013 exclusion to make a $27,000 tax-free gift to him next year.
We can help you determine how to make the most of your 2012 gift tax annual exclusion.
Income tax generally applies to all forms of income, including cancellation-of-debt (COD) income. Think of it this way: If a creditor forgives a debt, you avoid the expense of making the payments, which increases your net income.