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If I found a bank that let me have 11.8 million other (non spouse) people on it and put $1 in that account would I be liable for paying gift tax?

This is a "reductio ad absurdum" of the fact that joint accounts are considered "gifts" for the purposes of the gift tax.

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    There is a slight difference between the title question and the body question (11.7 v. 11.8) but it is immaterial. If someone had 11.8 million spouses, that would indeed be remarkable (although you can only have one spouse for gift tax purposes at any one time, so you'd have to marry and divorce unthinkably quickly to make that happen).
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 22:58
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    @ohwilleke I appreciate your willingness to take this "reductio ad absurdum" all the way, and I am in fact willing to get married and divorced as t at 3.71Hz to prove a point.
    – Sam
    Commented Dec 28, 2022 at 5:12

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Under U.S. law, each donor can give up to $15,000 per person, per year to as many people as desired gift tax free (this is called the "annual exclusion").

So, yes you could.

The gift tax portion of the Internal Revenue Code is specifically designed so that de minimis gifts don't have to be accounted for.

Also, the amount of the gift for gift tax purposes if you had 11.8 million co-owners of an account would be 1/11,800,000 dollars, not $1 dollar each. While co-ownership of a joint account is a gift, it is not a gift of 100% of the value of the co-owned account to each co-owner.

The default rule in absence of evidence to the contrary, is that co-owners of property have equal ownership of it. Adding one joint owner to a solo account is a gift of half of the amount in the account.

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