The Clock is Ticking on a Gift Tax Exemption Bonanza

TIME may — or may not — be running out for one of the biggest tax breaks for wealthy Americans: the chance to give up to $5.12 million to heirs tax-free and then pay a comparatively low 35 percent rate on any gift above that. The break is scheduled to expire in six months, but no one will hazard a guess about its fate because it is just one of many tax and spending measures expiring at the same time.

A few poignant reminders never hurt anybody, especially when the issues are this pressing. Case in point: There are fewer than six months remaining to make use of the $5.12 million gift tax exemption.

If you have not noticed, communication between Congress and the White House is rather contentious. After all, it is an election year and the stakes are high regarding the future of our country. Who will control the levers of power in 2013? That question will not be answered until November 6. In the meantime, the future of the gift tax (and the estate tax) hangs in the balance.

Against the backdrop of this uncertainty, one known is that the $5.12 million gift tax exemption is available through December 31, 2012. That amount (or $10.24 million, if married) is yours to give – in liquid assets, unappreciated stock, real estate, or what have you – but only until the end of the year. The New York Times recently addressed this issue in a recent article titled “To Give or Not to Give, Up to $5.12 Million.”

In the end, you may find yourself in this very real tax predicament. You could be stuck between the known and the unknown, 2012 and 2013 gifting exemptions, or, a rock and a hard place.

Reference: The New York Times (June 22, 2012) “To Give or Not to Give, Up to $5.12 Million


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