The estate tax draws considerable attention during tax reform discussions. However, the gift tax may be considered as well.
The estate tax may be repealed by Congress, but little has been discussed about the gift tax. However, its future should also be taken into consideration, according to Bloomberg in “Gift Tax Tweaks Could Lead to Unsavory Avoidance Tactics.”
The gift tax is considered as a way to block people from avoiding the estate tax. However, that is only one of the purposes. The gift tax also prevents people from avoiding income taxes.
With no gift tax, property could be gifted tax-free to a child to lower tax burdens. It could then be gifted back when needed. This would suggest that the gift tax should remain, even if the estate tax is eliminated.
However, it is not that simple.
If there is no estate tax, then instead of gifting property to a family member, money could be loaned at very generous terms. The amount of the loan could then be given to the family member in an estate plan, effectively allowing the gift to be tax-free.
It is not clear what Congress will do with the gift tax at this point.
The initial plan for tax reform included repeal of the estate tax, but the gift tax drew silence.