How Does the IRS Know if I Gift Money to My Grandchildren? (2024)

A recentnj.comrecent post asks,“Will the IRS know if I gift money to my grandchildren?”The article explains that federal and state tax agencies do not have any direct way of knowing how much is being gifted. They rely on taxpayers self-reporting gifts. It’s the honor system.

What Is Considered a "Gift"?

The IRS stipulates that a gift is “the transfer of property by one individual to another, while receiving nothing, or less than full value, in return.” A gift is never taxable to the recipient, so only the person making the gift has to consider the gift tax.

How the IRS Can Track Money Gifts

However, the IRS has several ways they can uncover gifts you made to your grandchildren or other family members.

  • Filing Form 709: First, the IRS primarily finds out about gifts if you report them using Form 709. As a requirement, gifts exceeding $15,000 must be reported on this form.
  • IRS Audit: Second, the IRS may discover gifts when you or the recipient are audited, by matching transactions reported for certain assets, or because banks are required to report cash transfers in excess of $10,000.

Because it’s pretty simple to avoid paying gift tax, it doesn’t seem worth the risk of getting caught trying to skirt the rules.Understanding the gift taxis the best way to avoid issues.

Annual Gift Exemption Limits

The amount you can give will not be subject to gift tax, if the gift amounts are less than the annual and lifetime exemptions. The annual gift exemption is currently $15,000 per recipient, which means that you can give up to $15,000 each year to an unlimited number of people with no reporting requirement at all.

You’re supposed to complete a U.S. Gift Tax Return (IRS Form 709) if you exceed the exemption, but don’t panic. Although you are required to file a gift tax return, it is highly unlikely any gift tax will be due.

That’s because gifts in excess of the annual exemption offset your lifetime exemption, before any gift tax is due.

Penalties for Failing to Report Gifts to the IRS

The IRS can impose penalties if they discover that you failed to file a gift tax return, even if no gift tax was due. Also note that the gift tax is integrated with the estate tax, which applies to amounts transferred upon your death in excess of your remaining lifetime exemption.

If you’re planning on making a gift to help pay another’s college costs or medical expenses, make the payment directly to the educational or healthcare institution, because that payment isn’t considered a gift.

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Ask our estate planning lawyers about any state gift, estate and inheritance taxes bysubmitting our online form to request a consultation. 1, 2019)“Will the IRS know if I gift money to my grandchildren?”
How Does the IRS Know if I Gift Money to My Grandchildren? (2024)


How does the IRS know you gave a gift? ›

The primary way the IRS becomes aware of gifts is when you report them on form 709. You are required to report gifts to an individual over $17,000 on this form. This is how the IRS will generally become aware of a gift. However, form 709 is not the only way the IRS will know about a gift.

How does the IRS find out about unreported gifts? ›

But the IRS also can search for unreported gifts during your lifetime. For example, it searches public property records in some states, such as real estate title records. Transfers that appear to be between relatives or that were made without compensation can be compared to filed gift tax returns.

Who reports gifts to the IRS? ›

Only individuals are required to file gift tax returns. If a trust, estate, partnership, or corporation makes a gift, the individual beneficiaries, partners, or stockholders are considered donors and may be liable for the gift and GST taxes. The donor is responsible for paying the gift tax.

How to prove cash gifts? ›

A gift letter is a formal document proving that money you have received is a gift, not a loan, and that the donor has no expectations for you to pay the money back. A gift can be broadly defined to include a sale, exchange, or other transfer of property from one person (the donor) to another (the recipient).

What happens if you don't report a gift to the IRS? ›

If you don't pay the gift tax by the original due date of the return (generally, April 15), you will be charged interest and may be charged penalties. You can use the table on page 1 to determine whether to file Form 8892. Paying tax. If you're filing Form 8892 to pay gift tax, file by the due date for Form 709.

What triggers a gift tax audit? ›

In 2021, individuals can gift up to $15,000 per year without incurring gift tax. If you're married, you and your spouse can each gift up to $15,000 per year to each recipient, effectively doubling the annual exclusion to $30,000. If you exceed this amount, you may be subject to gift tax and trigger an audit.

What are the IRS rules on gifts to grandchildren? ›

In 2023, you could gift anyone up to $17,000 per year tax-free—this is known as the annual gift tax exclusion and is set each year by the IRS . You won't have to pay a gift tax on funds at or below this amount, and it won't add to their taxable income. This amount is per grandchild.

How much can you gift without reporting to the IRS? ›

The IRS allows every taxpayer is gift up to $18,000 to an individual recipient in one year. There is no limit to the number of recipients you can give a gift to. There is also a lifetime exemption of $13.61 million.

How much money can I receive as a gift without reporting to the IRS? ›

Generally, the answer to “do I have to pay taxes on a gift?” is this: the person receiving a gift typically does not have to pay gift tax. The giver, however, will generally file a gift tax return when the gift exceeds the annual gift tax exclusion amount, which is $17,000 per recipient for 2023.

Can you gift someone money without them knowing? ›

Send money in the form of a prepaid debit card or a gift card to keep your identity hidden. Use a separate email and pseudonym when creating accounts on online payment apps, such as Venmo, Cash App, and Zelle to send money anonymously.

Do I have to prove money was a gift? ›

Keep in mind that while a gift letter alone is a great start, some lenders may request further information to ascertain the money is actually a gift. They may want to see the donor's bank statements to ensure he or she actually had enough money to give you.

What is the best way to gift money to family members? ›

7 ways to give money as a gift
  1. Gift card.
  2. Cash.
  3. Check or money order.
  4. CDs or savings account transfer.
  5. Stocks.
  6. 529 contribution.
  7. Charitable contribution.
  8. Tips for giving money as a gift.
Apr 29, 2024

Do you have to tell the IRS about gifts? ›

The general rule is that any gift is a taxable gift. However, there are many exceptions to this rule. Generally, the following gifts are not taxable gifts. Gifts that are not more than the annual exclusion for the calendar year.

What happens if you forget to file a gift tax return? ›

5% of the amount of the gift for every month after the due date. Sending in your gift tax return is important for practitioners, too. Failing to do this could result in criminal charges or even referral to the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility under the umbrella of a Circular 230 violation.

Does the IRS care about gifts? ›

The annual gift tax exclusion is a set dollar amount that you may give someone without needing to report it to the IRS. The threshold is typically adjusted to account for inflation each year. The 2024 annual gift tax exclusion is $18,000, up from $17,000 in 2023.

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