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What financial repercussions could a person have if he buys another family member a home and puts it in their name?


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July 13, 2009 4:22AM

Just for starters, the recipient would have to look carefully to see who is paying the tax on the purchase, as well as the property taxes for the house after purchase.

First, it depends on who "their name" is. If the house is in the name of the gift recipient, the giver has made a gift of the value of the house to the recipient. In the US, you are allowed to give $13,000 annually to a single individual ($26,000 to a couple) with out any gift tax consequences. If the giver gives over of that amount, the giver eats into the $1million that they can give over their lifetime. Once the giver has used up their million dollar exemption, the giver, not the recipient, will have to pay gift taxes. By using part of the $1million gift tax exclusion you also reduce the amount that you can pass estate tax free at your death. the estate tax exclusion for 2009 is $3.5 million.

Example, you give a $200,000 house to your brother. The first $13,000 is the annual exclusion. The next $187,000 eats into the lifetime $1 million gifting limit. Assuming the giver has not made any large gifts to anyone else, no tax is due and the give may give an additional $813,000 during their lifetime without paying gift tax. If the giver makes no additional large gifts and if they died in 2009, the giver may pass $3.313 million at death without estate taxes.

If the giver retains the house in her or her own name, and lets the family member live there, the gift tax law still applies, but it is the value of the rental that is considered the gift. If the rental value plus any other gifts to that recipient does not exceed $13,000 per year, the giver would not eat into their million dollar lifetime exclusion.