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I just made a gift. Do I have to file a gift tax return?

A federal gift tax return must be filed if any gifts you made during the calendar year were other than:

  • Gifts to your U.S. citizen spouse
  • Gifts to a political organization for its own use
  • Gifts to qualified charities, if no other interest has been transferred for less than adequate consideration or for other than a charitable use
  • Gifts totaling $13,000 or less to any one individual, unless you and your spouse are "gift-splitting"
  • Amounts paid on behalf of any individual as tuition to an educational organization or to any person who provides medical care for an individual

However, you may want to file a gift tax return in certain circumstances even if the rules do not require it. For example, you should consider filing whenever you sell hard-to-value assets, such as real estate or stock in a family business, to a relative. This is because the IRS can claim that transactions between family members were actually gifts in disguise. Disclosing such transactions on a gift tax return means that the IRS has only three years to challenge the value.

If you file a federal gift tax return, you must use Form 709 and file by April 15 of the year following the year in which the gift was made.

The federal gift tax rules are complex. If you believe you have made gifts that might be subject to gift tax, you should consult an experienced tax specialist. Check with your state about its own rules regarding gifts, too.