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What taxes do you owe on a $13,000 gift?

December 25, 2012: 6:30 AM ET

If I give someone a gift over $13,000, what taxes will each of us owe? — Margaret G., Raleigh, N.C.

Good news about the oft-puzzling gift tax: Whatever the size of your gift, the recipient neither owes tax nor needs to report it. You, the giver, have to file Form 709 for a gift over the IRS' annual per-recipient limit ($13,000 in 2012 and rising to $14,000 next year). But you won't owe money unless your lifetime over-the-limit gifts — or, after your death, those gifts plus your estate — exceed the amount excluded from federal estate and gift taxes (now $5.12 million, though it may drop to $1 million in 2013).

Still worried? A married couple can give someone double the annual per-person limit without raising their gift-tax liability. And, notes Bellmore, N.Y., CPA Jeff Sklar, paying a grand-child's tuition directly to his or her school won't count as a gift either.

— Susie Poppick

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