Enjoy the Season of Giving Without Tax Implications

Web Admin - Monday, December 17, 2018
Schaumburg gift tax attorneyYou do not have to wait until you die to give a loved one enough money to pursue a big dream, such as starting a business or advancing their education. You can give that gift today without paying any extra federal taxes as long as you follow a few simple rules and have a sound estate plan. During the holiday season, it is important to understand how federal gift tax affects the high-value gifts given.

Why the Gift Tax Exists 

Gift taxes exist because of the federal estate tax. If your estate is large enough that federal estate taxes will be owed upon your death, the IRS wants to make sure it collects those taxes one way or another. The gift tax ensures that people cannot avoid the federal estate tax simply by giving away their assets prior to death.

Who Has to Pay Federal Gift Taxes? 

Gifts are always tax-free to the recipient. Federal gift tax rules only apply to the giver and only come into play if you exceed the annual gift limits. 

What Are the 2018 and 2019 Gift Limits?

The annual gift limit is $15,000 per individual recipient per calendar year for 2018 and 2019. You can give that amount to as many individuals as you wish without being required to pay gift tax. It does not matter if the individual is related to you or not.

In other words, a gift of $15,000 or less that is given to one person will not have any gift tax or estate tax implications. Separately, your spouse may also give $15,000 to anyone they want. 

Non-cash gifts are valued at their current fair market value. For example, if you originally paid $5,000 for a painting or 100 shares of stock, and the item is worth $15,000 at the time you transfer the gift, the IRS considers the value of the gift to be $15,000.

What Happens if I Exceed the Annual Gift Limits?

If the total value of your gifts to any one individual in one calendar year exceeds the annual limit, you must file a federal gift tax return using IRS Form 709. This is separate from your federal income tax return but is due at the same time. 

A separate Form 709 must be filed by each individual who gives an over-the-limit gift; spouses cannot file one joint Form 709 the way they file a joint income tax return.

However, just because you have to file a federal gift tax return does not mean you will actually have to pay any taxes at that time. You can choose to apply over-the-limit gift amounts to your federal estate tax exclusion. In essence, rather than paying the gift tax now, you defer the taxes until your death when the final estate tax return is filed.

If you opt to pay gift taxes at the time you file a gift tax return, the tax rate starts at 18% and goes as high as 40%. These rates are substantially lower than current estate tax rates, but again, the laws can change dramatically from year to year. 

Ultimately, most people will not owe any federal estate taxes upon their death, so it is often preferable to avoid paying gift taxes early.

What Happens at Death When My Estate is Settled?

A federal estate tax return must be filed only if the fair market value of your total assets at the time of your death plus the sum of all pre-death taxable gifts exceeds the IRS “basic exclusion” amount. The IRS basic exclusion amounts are $11.18 million for 2018 and $11.4 million for 2019. 

Of course, it is possible that the estate tax threshold could be reduced in future years. For example, if you had died in 2017, the estate tax exclusion was just $5.49 million. 

These complexities are a good reason to work with a highly skilled tax and estate planning attorney to develop a comprehensive estate plan.

Please note that the information in this article applies only to federal tax law. Consult your financial and legal advisors regarding applicable Illinois estate and gift tax laws.

Consult a Schaumburg Tax and Estate Planning Lawyer

Many people find great pleasure in giving generous gifts to their family members sooner rather than later. However, to avoid creating an unnecessary tax burden, talk to a knowledgeable Arlington Heights gift tax and estate plans attorney at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. Call 847-934-6000 to schedule an appointment; there is no charge for an initial consultation.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.


How Does Illinois Estate Tax Differ From Federal Estate Tax?

Web Admin - Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Palatine estate tax attorneyNo matter the amount of property or assets you acquire over the course of your lifetime, you will want to be sure that these assets are properly distributed to your heirs following your death. Proper estate planning is essential for making sure your wishes are carried out correctly. However, one aspect of estate planning that is often not addressed is the estate tax, which applies to the transfer of a person’s assets to their heirs after their death, and residents of Illinois should be aware that they may be responsible for a state estate tax as well as a federal estate tax.

Understanding Illinois Estate Tax

When someone dies, their estate may be subject to estate tax if the value of their assets is above a certain threshold. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 increased the threshold for federal estate tax from $5.49 million to $11.2 million. The exemption threshold for Illinois estate tax is currently $4 million. Any estate with a gross value that is more than this amount is subject to Illinois estate tax, with the full value of the estate being taxable.

The tax rates for the Illinois estate tax are variable, ranging from 0.8% to 16%. This tax applies not only to the value of an estate, but also to taxable gifts made during a person’s lifetime. A person may be able to reduce the value of their estate, and thus reduce their amount of estate taxes, by making non-taxable gifts of up to $14,000 per person per year.

Unlike the federal estate tax, the Illinois estate tax exemption cannot be passed to a person’s spouse after their death. However, some of the Illinois estate tax may be deferred if a spouse’s assets are placed in a qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trust. This type of “credit shelter” trust can be used to defer the difference between the Illinois and federal estate taxes. For example, in estate tax returns filed for decedents who died in 2017, a QTIP election of up to $1.49 million may be made, and estate taxes on this amount will not apply until the death of the surviving spouse.

Contact an Arlington Heights Estate Planning Attorney

Understanding the relationship between federal and state estate taxes and determining how to manage assets in a way that minimizes tax burdens can be a complicated matter. If you want to be sure that you will be able to pass the assets you have earned throughout your lifetime to your heirs, the skilled attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can help you create an estate plan that meets your family’s needs. Contact our Schaumburg estate tax lawyers today at 847-934-6000 to schedule a personalized consultation.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.


How the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Affects Estate Tax

Web Admin - Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Barrington estate planning lawyer estate taxThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 represents the largest reform to the United States tax code in the past 30 years, and its changes will be felt in nearly every aspect of people’s lives for many years to come. While tax attorneys and financial advisors are still working to determine how this bill will affect individuals and businesses, one area in which the act’s changes are clear is that of estate tax. For people with significant assets, it is important to understand how these changes will affect their estate plan.

Estate Tax Exemptions

The federal estate tax applies to the assets which are transferred to someone’s heirs after their death. However, everyone is entitled to an exemption, and only the value of the estate above this exemption is subject to estate taxes. Prior to the passage of the tax reform bill, this exemption was $5 million, plus an inflation adjustment which varied from year to year (for 2018, the inflation adjustment was $600,000, allowing an estate to claim a total exemption of $5.6 million). 

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act doubled the amount of the exemption, meaning that for an individual who dies in 2018, their estate can claim an exemption of $11.2 million. In addition, spouses are able to use a portability election to claim any unused portion of their spouse’s exemption. This means that married couples will effectively have a $22.4 million estate tax exemption.

Notably, this increased estate tax exemption is scheduled to sunset in 2025. People with significant assets can take advantage of this exemption before it ends and minimize their potential estate taxes by transferring their assets to their heirs prior to their death. As of 2018, gifts of up to $15,000 from an individual or $30,000 from a married couple can be given to individuals each year without being subject to federal gift taxes. A person’s lifetime estate tax exemption of $11.2 million can be applied to gifts above this threshold. 

Contact a Schaumburg Estate Planning Attorney

The increased estate tax exemption is just one small aspect of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and there are a wide variety of other provisions that will affect people’s finances and their plans for distributing their assets to their heirs after their death. If you have any questions about how the tax reform bill will affect your estate plan, the skilled attorneys at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can help you understand the changes to the law and the steps you should take to provide for your family’s financial security after you are gone. Contact our Inverness estate planning lawyers today at 847-934-6000 to schedule a personalized consultation.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.


Are Holiday Gifts Subject to Federal Gift Tax?

Web Admin - Thursday, December 21, 2017
Barrington estate planning and tax lawyerThe holiday season is a time of giving, but as you celebrate this time with your family and friends, you may need to be aware of a certain omnipresent aspect of American life: taxes. While it will likely only apply to people who earn a high income or have large financial assets, it is still a good idea to understand the Federal gift tax and the impact it may have on the gifts you give and your estate.

What Is the Gift Tax?

When a person transfers property to someone else without receiving something of equal value in return, this is considered a gift by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and it may be subject to gift taxes. The person who gives the gift to someone else (known as the donor) is responsible for filing tax forms for the gift and paying the gift tax.

Gift Tax Exclusions

Certain types of gifts are excluded from taxes, including gifts given to one’s spouse, gifts given to a political organization, and tuition or medical expenses paid on someone’s behalf. For other gifts, an annual exclusion threshold applies. That threshold is $14,000 for 2017, and the threshold for 2018 will be $15,000.

The annual exclusion applies to gifts given to an individual person, so if a donor gives multiple people gifts of less than $14,000 each, they will not owe any gift taxes. For spouses, the exclusion is doubled, so a married couple can give a gift of up to $28,000 without owing gift taxes.

In addition to the annual exclusion, everyone is entitled to a lifetime exemption known as the basic tax exemption. For people who die in 2017, that exemption is $5,490,000, and in 2018, the exemption will increase to $5,600,000. The taxable amount of gifts greater than the annual gift tax exclusion threshold can be applied toward this lifetime exemption, and taxes will not be owed on these gifts. However, any amount of the basic exemption used during one’s lifetime will be deducted from the amount of their estate that is exempt from estate taxes upon their death.

Contact a Schaumburg Estate Planning Attorney

Determining how gift taxes will affect your finances and your estate can be a complex undertaking. If you want to make sure you are protecting yourself and providing for your family’s financial security, the skilled attorneys at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can work with you to ensure you have met your legal requirements and have the financial resources in place that your family needs. Contact our Rolling Meadows estate planning attorneys today at 847-934-6000 to schedule a personalized consultation.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.


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