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Gift Tax Return


A Gift Tax Return, officially known as IRS Form 709 in the United States, is a document that an individual files to report to the IRS any gift that exceeds the annual exclusion amount. The annual exclusion amount is the maximum value of gifts one can give to another individual in a year without having to pay tax on it. Importantly, this form is separate from an individual’s annual income tax return.


Gift Tax Return in phonetics is pronounced as: Gift – /ɡɪft/Tax – /tæks/Return – /rɪˈtɜrn/

Key Takeaways

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  1. Gift Tax Return, also known as IRS Form 709, is a federal tax form that must be filled out by anyone who has gifted above the annual exclusion limit ($15,000 as of 2022).
  2. Not all gifts are taxable. Certain exceptions include gifts to charitable organizations, gifts to your spouse, gifts to an educational organization for tuition or to a medical care provider for medical care.
  3. Filing a gift tax return does not necessarily imply paying a gift tax. In many instances, the lifetime estate and gift tax exemption (which stands at $11.7 million for individuals and $23.4 million for couples in 2022) may discharge the need to pay tax.

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The Gift Tax Return, officially known as IRS Form 709 in the United States, is a crucial aspect of business and finance, particularly in the realm of personal wealth and estate planning. Its significance lies in its role of documenting gifts. When an individual gives away assets or money that surpass the annual exemption limit, they are mandated to file a Gift Tax Return. This mechanism prevents the circumvention of Estate Tax through the dispersal of wealth prior to death. By filing this return, the IRS can keep track of an individual’s lifetime gift tax exemption and deduct the allowed amount from the donor’s lifetime gift tax exemption. Hence, Gift Tax Returns play a pivotal role in managing, protecting, and optimizing wealth for both individual taxpayers and their beneficiaries.


The main purpose of the Gift Tax Return, officially known as IRS Form 709 in the U.S., is to report the transfer of wealth from one individual to another when the value exceeds the annual gift tax exclusion. The IRS requires this so it can enforce the estate and gift tax system, which provides a significant portion of federal tax revenue. By enforcing the gift tax, the government is able to prevent the tax-free transfer of assets between individuals, ensuring wealth doesn’t just get passed on outside of the taxable estate. The gift tax return therefore plays a vital part in maintaining fairness and accountability in the realm of wealth distribution and taxation.In practice, the Gift Tax Return is used when a person gives a gift or gifts to a single individual that total more than the annual gift tax exclusion limit in a single calendar year. For instance, if the limit is $15,000, and the person has gifted $20,000 within a year to the same individual, they’ll need to file a gift tax return for the $5,000 that exceeds the annual exclusion. It’s important to note that the donor is usually the one responsible for paying the gift tax and for filing the gift tax return – not the recipient of the gift. However, in some cases, the recipient may agree to pay the tax instead. Despite the requirement to file, few people end up paying gift tax due to the lifetime gift tax exemption, which is quite high. The Lifetime Gift Tax Exemption amount, changes from year-to-year based on inflation adjustments.


1. **Estate Planning**: Let’s say Mr. Smith, a wealthy businessman, wants to reduce his estate’s value to decrease the inheritance tax his heirs will have to pay upon his death. He decided to give his daughter a property worth $14 million. As of 2022, the IRS allows a gift tax exclusion of $16,000 per person per year. Anything above this limit must be reported to the IRS. Consequently, Mr. Smith would be required to file a gift tax return, or Form 709, to report the $13.984 million over the annual exclusion limit.2. **High-value Birthday Gifts**: Suppose, Ms. Davis received a valuable painting from her uncle on her birthday which has a fair market value of $20,000. This gift significantly surpasses the annual gift tax exclusion and therefore the uncle is required to file a gift tax return to report the excess $4,000 ($20,000 – $16,000) to the IRS.3. **Tuition and Medical Expenses Gifts**: As per IRS regulations, any payments made directly to an educational institution or to a medical facility for someone else are exempt from gift tax. For instance, if Mr. Johnson paid $50,000 directly to his granddaughter’s university for her tuition fees, this amount will not be considered as a gift, therefore no Gift Tax Return needs to be filed for this transaction.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Gift Tax Return?

A Gift Tax Return, also known as IRS Form 709, is a form that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service requires individuals to submit if they give gifts exceeding the annual exclusion limit in a tax year.

Who is required to file a Gift Tax Return?

Any individual who gives gifts totaling more than the annual exclusion limit in a given year is typically required to file a Gift Tax Return. This limit may change yearly, so it’s recommended to verify the exact amount with IRS.

How is the Gift Tax Return different from an Income Tax Return?

An Income Tax Return reports your income and calculates your tax liability for the year, while a Gift Tax Return reports gifts given that exceed the annual exclusion limit.

When should I file a Gift Tax Return?

Gift Tax Returns should be filed by April 15th of the year following the one in which the gift was given. If April 15th falls on a holiday or weekend, it might be due the next business day.

Is a Gift Tax Return required for gifts to spouses?

Generally, gifts to spouses are not subject to the gift tax and hence do not require the filing of a gift tax return. However, there are exceptions, especially for spouses who are not U.S. citizens.

How can I avoid filing a Gift Tax Return?

The only way to avoid filing a Gift Tax Return is to give gifts that do not exceed the annual exclusion limit in any given tax year.

Where can I get help with my Gift Tax Return?

The IRS provides instructions for Form 709 on its website. If the task seems too daunting, it may be helpful to hire a tax professional. Please note that the information provided should not replace legal or financial advice. Always consult a qualified professional if you have any queries or concerns.

Related Finance Terms

  • Federal Gift Tax
  • Taxable Gifts
  • Annual Gift Tax Exclusion
  • IRS Form 709
  • Lifetime Gift Tax Exemption

Sources for More Information

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