OK, here it is, the best gift tax advice I can give, and all that you really need to know to protect you and your loved ones - when it comes to gift tax questions, talk to an estate planning attorney, tax attorney or an accountant. Yes, it's really that simple - you really do need to seek professional advice if you are contemplating making a large gift - but in this day and age of the internet it seems that most people believe they can get the answer to any question, even a tax question, online, for free, and without any strings attached.
Gift Tax Laws Are Complex
I have found during my years of practice as an estate planning attorney that by far the most misunderstood concept in the area of taxes as they relate to property transfers is the gift tax. People get confused about what constitutes a gift and simply do not understand that by giving something to someone else and getting nothing in return that they've made a gift that is subject to the gift tax. Like the good only family "loan," where dad "loans" his son $50,000 at 0% interest - how can this possibly be considered a "loan"? These are the transactions that the IRS will look right through and treat as a gift.
While this may seem to be a simple concept to grasp, believe me, it's not. That's why it's so important to consult with an estate planning attorney, tax attorney or accountant who is familiar with federal gift tax laws, and, if applicable, state gift tax laws, to insure that you understand all of the tax consequences before you make a taxable gift.
I know that this is not the advice you want to hear - you just want a "simple answer" to your "simple question," right? Unfortunately there are never really any simple answers when it comes to gift taxes - yes, that's what you're asking for, free gift tax advice. Usually even the most basic question will require the expertise of an attorney or an accountant who has knowledge of federal tax laws and, if applicable, the laws of your state of residence. And no attorney or accountant I know is willing to just give away tax advice without a valid attorney-client or accountant-client relationship in place.
Also keep in mind that while I have strived to provide basic information about gift taxes on this guidesite, this information certainly cannot be relied on for legal or tax advice, mainly because the facts and circumstances surrounding each gift tax question will be different and therefore a generic answer for each and every different situation will be impossible.
Don't Be Afraid to Seek the Advice of an Attorney or Accountant
OK, so you're worried about how much it will cost for you to speak with an attorney or accountant. If you have limited finances, then be upfront about this when you make an appointment. (And by the way, if you're contemplating making a significant gift, then you probably have enough in the bank to consult with an attorney or accountant, but if not, then you probably shouldn't be making the gift.) Fortunately many gift tax questions can be answered in short order, although others may take an hour or so for a meeting and then a few more for research.
The bottom line - when you seek the advice of an estate planning attorney, tax attorney or accountant, you will get the exact answer to your specific gift tax question, which will give you and your loved ones peace of mind and money well spent.