How Much Is the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion?

How much money can you give someone before you have to pay tax on it?

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The Internal Revenue Code imposes a gift tax on property or cash you give to any one person or entity, but it also provides a couple of ways to avoid the tax. One option is the annual gift tax exclusion. Only the value of a gift that exceeds this threshold can be taxed. For tax year 2022, the annual gift tax exclusion is $16,000. For tax year 2023, it's $17,000.

Key Takeaways

  • You can give any individual up to $16,000 in tax year 2022 and $17,000 in tax year 2023, and not incur a gift tax.
  • The tax applies to cash gifts as well as property.
  • Payments made directly on someone's behalf to an institution, such as a university or health care facility, do not fall under the gift tax.
  • The gift giver is the one who pays the gift tax, if needed.

The Tax Definition of a Gift

The IRS defines a "gift" as anything for which you don't receive full consideration in return. You've given a gift of $100,000 if you sell a piece of property to your niece for $100,000, but the property had a fair market value of $200,000.


Fair market value is defined as what someone would pay for an item in a reasonable exchange when neither the buyer nor the seller is under pressure to pay too much or sell for too little.

Annual Gift Tax Exclusion: 1997 to 2023

The gift tax exclusion increases every year or so. For tax year 2022, it's $16,000. For tax year 2023, it's $17,000. The annual gift tax exclusion was first indexed for inflation as part of the Tax Relief Act of 1997, so the amount can increase from year to year to keep pace with the economy, but only in increments of $1,000.

Year Annual Gift Tax Exclusion Amount
1997 $10,000
1998 $10,000
1999 $10,000
2000 $10,000
2001 $10,000
2002 $11,000
2003 $11,000
2004 $11,000
2005 $11,000
2006 $12,000
2007 $12,000
2008 $12,000
2009 $13,000
2010 $13,000
2011 $13,000
2012 $13,000
2013 $14,000
2014 $14,000
2015 $14,000
2016 $14,000
2017 $14,000
2018 $15,000
2019 $15,000
2020 $15,000
2021 $15,000
2022 $16,000
2023 $17,000

How the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion Works

You could give any individual up to $16,000 in tax year 2022, and up to $17,000 in 2023, without paying a gift tax. The "annual" part of the exclusion means you could gift $16,000 on Dec. 31, 2022, and another $17,000 on Jan. 1, 2023, without incurring tax because the gifts would occur in two separate tax years.

The gift doesn't have to be made in one lump sum. The tax will also come due if you cumulatively exceed the exclusion amount, such as if you give someone $2,000 a month for 12 months. You'd owe the gift tax on the difference between the total annual amount ($24,000) and the exclusion for that tax year.

Exceptions to the Gift Tax Rules

These rules don't apply to everything and everyone. You can make unlimited gifts in the form of tuition, other qualified educational expenses, and medical expenses if you pay the learning institution or the care provider directly. They're not gifts, and they don't count against the exclusion amount if you pay schooling or doctor bills on someone's behalf.


You can make unlimited gifts to political organizations and to your spouse as well, provided your spouse is a U.S. citizen.

Gifts to non-citizen spouses are capped each year. For tax year 2022, the cap is $164,000. For 2023, it's $175,000. Similar to the annual exclusion for everyone else, you can give your non-citizen spouse this much per year without incurring a gift tax.

The Lifetime Exemption

The gift tax must be paid one way or another if you exceed the annual exclusion, but this doesn't necessarily mean that you must hand over cash to the IRS. The U.S. tax code also provides for a lifetime exemption that allows you to effectively bump the tax over to another exclusion.

This exemption is sometimes referred to as the "unified credit" because it shares its cap with the estate tax. For tax year 2022, the government said you can transfer up to $12.06 million in money or property tax-free to other individuals, either as gifts during your lifetime or from your estate at your death. For tax year 2023, this lifetime exclusion limit is $12.92 million.

You can effectively assign any gifts that exceed the annual exclusion to this unified credit if you decide you don't want to pay the gift tax in the year you go over the amount of the exclusion. If you were to give someone $920,000 in 2023, $12 million of the exemption—plus the annual exclusion amount—would remain to shield other gifts you give over the annual exclusion and your estate at the time of your death.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the annual gift tax exclusion?

The annual gift tax exclusion is the amount of money or property that you can someone per year without needing to pay taxes.

What happens if you exceed the annual gift tax exclusion?

If you exceed the annual gift tax exclusion, you can either choose to pay taxes on the difference between the exclusion and your gift amount, or you may be able to count it toward your lifetime exclusion, which is a total amount tied to the estate taxes you may have to pay in the future.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. IRS. “IRS Provides Tax Inflation Adjustments for Tax Year 2023.”

  2. IRS. "Publication 561 Determining the Value of Donated Property."

  3. IRS. "Frequently Asked Questions on Gift Taxes."

  4. IRS. "Frequently Asked Questions on Gift Taxes for Nonresidents Not Citizens of the United States."

  5. IRS. "Estate Tax."

  6. IRS. "Estate Tax."

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