Is it possible to reduce federal income taxes through gift-giving to family members?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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When a taxpayer gifts income producing property to family members it switches the tax liability to the receiver of the gift.  That can result in an overall reduction in tax if the receiver’s marginal tax rate is lower than the taxpayer’s.   However, these days this is of limited value.  With the introduction of the “Kiddie Tax” Congress basically stopped any real viability of a parent transferring income property to a minor child, in order to reduce tax.

The “Kiddie Tax” is a taxing method where minor children’s marginal tax brackets are the same as the parent’s tax brackets, if they have investment income in excess of $2,100 for 2016 and 2017 and they are under age 19 (or under age 24 if a student). Beginning 2018 and ending 2025, the child’s tax rate is not based on his or her parent’s tax brackets; rather, the net unearned income of the child’s investments is taxed at the rates used for trusts and estates.

It is also important to note that gifting can result in gift tax or gift tax reporting which also needs to be factored into any decision regarding gifting property to family members.  Therefore overall, gifting income producing property in order to attempt to reduce tax is of very marginal benefit to most taxpayers.

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