Impersonation Mode
Education Center

One important estate planning objective shared by most taxpayers is to maximize the amounts that may be transferred to their heirs with as little estate1 and gift2 taxes possible. Yet as clear as this objective may be, many clients with sizeable estates allow a rather valuable tax benefit to be lost year after year by not establishing a formal gifting program designed to use the "annual gift tax exclusion."

Under federal gift tax laws, each individual is permitted to gift up to $14,000 in cash or other property each calendar year per donee as the taxpayer may desire without any gift tax. This exclusion amount is indexed for inflation. This exclusion from gift tax is commonly referred to as the gift tax annual exclusion, or more simply, as the annual exclusion. The annual exclusion is an administratively easy tax benefit to use. For example, as long as the taxpayer has not made any gifts during the calendar year to any individual(s) that total more than the annual exclusion, the taxpayer does not even have to file a gift tax return with the Internal Revenue Service.

As easy as it may be to take advantage of the annual exclusion, many individuals with sizeable estates fail to establish formal gifting programs to use this exclusion. And, unlike the lifetime gift tax exemption amount ($5,250,000 for 2013), which may be used at any time during an individual's lifetime or at death, any annual exclusion that is not used during the calendar year is lost. One reason many taxpayers may not fully utilize their annual exclusions may be because of the mistaken belief that the use of the annual exclusion would have a minimal impact on their overall estate tax liability. But for taxpayers with estates at the 40% highest marginal estate tax bracket, each $14,000 annual exclusion that is not used represents a significant lost gift and estate tax savings. When you consider the additional taxes that would have been imposed on the taxpayer on the future appreciation of those assets if they had not been gifted, the potential tax savings becomes even greater. If one were to multiply that amount by the number of children, grandchildren and other heirs to whom a taxpayer may want to make gifts and then further multiply that by the number of remaining years in the taxpayer's life, the lost tax savings can be rather sizeable.

Although there are certain conditions a gift must satisfy to qualify for the annual exclusion, an outright gift of property to an individual with no strings attached would be the easiest gift to qualify for the annual exclusion. If the intended beneficiary of a gift is a minor, then qualifying gifts may be made to a custodial account established for the benefit of the minor under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act or the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act. If the gift will be made to a trust, then qualifying the gift for the gift tax annual exclusion becomes more complicated. In all cases, anyone desiring to set up an annual exclusion gifting program should first consult their legal and tax advisors to ensure the gifts qualify for the annual exclusion.

 

CWS-L-31A


1According to the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, the federal estate, gift and generation skipping transfer (GST) tax exemption amounts are all $5,000,000 (indexed for inflation effective for tax years after 2011); the maximum estate, gift and GST tax rates are 40%.

2
As of January 1, 2013, the annual gift tax exclusion is $14,000 per donee (indexed for inflation).

For more information on this subject, and professional guidance in selecting the right kind and amount of insurance coverage, contact your life insurance producer.

This material is not intended to be used, nor can it be used by any taxpayer, for the purpose of avoiding U.S. federal, state or local tax penalties. This material is written to support the promotion or marketing of the transaction(s) or matter(s) addressed by this material. Pacific Life, its distributors and their respective representatives do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice. Any taxpayer should seek advice based on the taxpayer’s particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

Pacific Life refers to Pacific Life Insurance Company and its affiliates, including Pacific Life & Annuity Company. Insurance products are issued by Pacific Life Insurance Company in all states except New York and in New York by Pacific Life & Annuity Company. Product availability and features may vary by state. Each insurance company is solely responsible for the financial obligations accruing under the products it issues. Insurance products and their guarantees, including optional benefits and any fixed subaccount crediting rates, are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company, but they do not protect the value of the variable investment options. Look to the strength of the life insurance company with regard to such guarantees as these guarantees are not backed by the broker-dealer, insurance agency or their affiliates from which products are purchased. Neither these entities nor their representatives make any representation or assurance regarding the claims-paying ability of the life insurance company. Variable insurance products are distributed by Pacific Select Distributors, Inc., (member FINRA & SIPC), a subsidiary of Pacific Life Insurance Company, and an affiliate of Pacific Life & Annuity Company, and are available through licensed third-party broker-dealers.

Pacific Life's Home Office is located in Newport Beach, CA.