The annual gift tax exemption has been increased to $14,000 in 2013, up from $13,000 last year. That’s due to an adjustment for inflation.
This means that you can give any person $14,000 this year without any gift tax liability at all. Making annual gifts of the exemption amount is one of the best and easiest forms of estate planning, because it transfers assets from one generation to the next without any tax liability whatsoever.
If you have multiple heirs, the amount you can give away tax-free multiplies quickly. For instance, if you have two children, and each child is married and has two children, you can give $14,000 to each child, spouse and grandchild. That’s eight recipients at $14,000 each, or a potential maximum gift of $112,000 a year.
Keep in mind that a spouse can also make gifts. If your spouse gave an additional $14,000 to each recipient, that would be $224,000.
If you’re thinking about making regular annual gifts, you might want to consider setting up trusts for the beneficiaries and making gifts to the trusts – especially if your grandchildren are young.
Making annual gifts to trusts is more complicated, and there are special techniques that usually must be followed in order to obtain the best tax treatment. However, there are many practical as well as tax benefits to making gifts by means of a trust, and doing so can further increase the value of your gifts.