If you give someone money or property during your life, you may be subject to federal gift tax.
The money and property you own when you die, known as your estate, also may be subject to federal estate tax. However, federal tax laws allow you to give money away during your lifetime or leave to your heirs certain amounts that are exempt from taxation.
The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 provides for increasing exemptions from the estate tax, with its elimination in 2010. Congress is expected to reinstate some form of estate tax for 2010. However, if no action is taken, the estate tax will return in 2011 with a higher tax rate that will apply to more estates.
Estate tax phaseout
|2005||$1.5 million||47 percent|
|2006, 2007 and 2008||$2 million||46 percent in 2006
45 percent in 2007 and 2008
|2009||$3.5 million||45 percent|
|2010||Tax repealed||Tax repealed, but gift tax still applies in some cases at 35 percent rate|
|2011||$1 million||55 percent|
Annual gift tax exclusionYou can give the following monetary amounts to each person, and to as many individuals as you want, without triggering the gift tax. The amount is indexed each year for inflation.
Annual gift tax exclusion