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Learning Center Experience
By Alfred C. Greenfield, Jr.PhD, Full-Time Faculty, Kaplan University
You come home from work and get the mail like you do
every day, but today is not like every other day. Today, there is an envelope from your parents
and inside is a check with a note saying how they wanted you to have this. The
first thing that pops into your head is this could not have come at a better
time with your oldest child getting ready to start college in a month.
second thing that enters your mind is to wonder if you have to claim this on your
taxes. The answer to that is no, but
your parents may depending on many different factors behind the gift.
The scenario above is more common than one may think,
and more often than not people are unsure how to handle it from a tax
perspective. It is called a gift, and while many of us are probably familiar
with the term “gift tax,” we are not sure exactly what it is and how it works.
The first thing to do is define the term “gift.” According
to the IRS, a gift is: "Any transfer to an individual, either
directly or indirectly, where full consideration (measured in money or money's
worth) is not received in return.” For
example, if you hand someone a check for $8,000, that’s a gift. And if your car
could be sold for $15,000 on the open market, but you sell it to your daughter
for $5,000, you’ve made a $10,000 gift to her.
Now we have to determine if the gift is taxable or
not. If the gift is less than $14,000 in 2015 (the threshold is subject to
change each year based on new tax laws), then it is not taxable to the donor as
it is less than the annual exemption. However, remember with the gift tax that
it is the person making the gift that has to pay any required gift tax, not the
recipient of the gift. So for the two examples above, neither would be taxable
as they are less than the annual exemption.
So then does that mean that if we give a gift to
someone that is larger than the annual exemption that it must be taxable? The
answer is not necessarily. There are some exceptions to the tax laws—as there
are with every tax law—and they are as follows:
According to the IRS website, the
general rule is that any gift is a taxable gift. However, there are many
exceptions to this rule. Generally, the following gifts are not taxable gifts.
In addition to the rules above there are some additional factors to consider. First, there is a lifetime gift amount exemption of $5,340,000 after which ALL gifts are subject to the gift tax unless they are to your spouse as there is no limit on those gifts. In addition, if you are married, then the annual exemption doubles to $28,000 per recipient even if the gift comes entirely from one of the married people. The best way to help add some clarity to this muddled tax situation is examples, so let’s review these so you can use them as guidance in your potential situation.
Mary is a single women with 4 children and she has $60,000 saved away that she wants to give her children so they use it as a down payment on a home. She has two choices here:
is married and wants to give $40,000 to each of his two children to cover the
cost of their kids’ college tuition. He has three choices here, and the third
one is the best option:
is married and wants to sell his summer home to his son Jeff for $20,000. The house is appraised at a value of $150,000
and has no mortgage. This will result in a gift of $130,000. However, that does
not mean that all of it is taxable as Jeff is also married. Since Joe is
married and so is Jeff, the total exemption is $56,000 as Joe can give both
Jeff and his wife $14,000 each and so can Joe’s wife ($14,000 * 4 = $56,000
total exemption). However, the remaining 74,000 is subject to the gift tax and
is taxed at the 34% rate for a total gift tax of $25,160.
As you can see, this
situation can, and often does, reach more than just the wealthy and it is good
to have at least a working knowledge of how the gift tax works. If you are ever
in doubt, check with a tax professional as it is better to be safe than sorry.
Interested in this career? Check out Kaplan University's business resources here.
Alfred C. Greenfield, Jr., PhD, is a full-time faculty member at Kaplan University. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.
This article serves as general information and should not be relied upon as official tax advice. For tax application to your individual situation you want to be sure to consult your personal professional accountant and tax advisor.
By Cynthia Waddell, PhD, CPA, CFE
By Geoffrey Vanderpal, Full-Time Faculty
By Richard Carter, PhD
By Stanley W. Self, CFE
By Jerry Taylor
By Rachel Byers, Full-Time Faculty, School of Business
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Maylee talks about her experiences with Kaplan Financial Education and preparing for her exams.
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