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Question: My client wants to make a gift of an income stream to his grandchild. The client intends to make a $50,000 deposit into a five year certain SPIA, and assign the income stream to the grandchild. The SPIA payments are about $12,000 per year. What are the gift tax consequences of the plan?
Answer: Clearly, the client is making a taxable gift to the grandchild. The only issue is whether it’s a gift of $50,000 in year one, or annual gifts of $12,000 in years one through five
If the client assigns all rights to the SPIA to the beneficiary at the beginning of the SPIA term, the present value of the income stream–$50,000—will be treated as a taxable gift in year one. Since the gift would be in excess of the annual exclusion amount ($13,000 in 2011 and 2012), the client would need to fill out a federal gift tax return.
If the client instead kept the right to the SPIA payments himself, but after receiving them turned them over to the grandchild, the client would be making annual gifts of $12,000 each year to the grandchild. If the client made no other gifts to the grandchild, the gifts would qualify for the annual gift tax exclusion. No gift tax return would be required.
If the client follows the second path, the client will get the income tax result associated with the immediate annuity payments. If the first path is followed, it’s the grandchild who recognizes taxable income on the annuity payments.
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