Q: I will be graduating from CSU in a few months and want to sell my condo. But I want to use my profits to pay off student loans and travel, not to pay taxes or to roll the money over into a new home. Do you have any suggestions?
A: The 1997 Tax Act allows anyone, regardless of age, to shelter from taxations all of his or her gain from the sale of real estate up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a married couple), provided that the person owned and lived in the home for two of the last five years. Thereafter you can shelter up to another $250,000 any number of times, provided that 24 months have passed from the previous sale and exemption claim, and provided further that you have lived in the new home for two of the past five years.
Q: Please help me understand the gifting laws.
A: Any time someone gets more than what he or she gives up, a taxable gift is made. There are four major exceptions to the rule that all gifts are taxable. First, one spouse can give an unlimited amount to the other spouse. Secondly, in any calendar year one person can give another person up to $10,000 of value tax free. There are no restrictions as to the number of $10,000 recipients and no limit concerning the number of years involved. Thirdly, a person can give one or more recipients a combined total amount up to the current exemption (this year $625,000) but once it is used, it is lost to shelter future gifts and also estate taxes. (For example, if a $625,000 gift was made to one person this year, next year when the exemption increases by statute to $650,000, the giver would have $25,000 available but not the $625,000 previously used.) A tax return must also be filed to claim this exemption. Finally, any gift to a qualified tax exempt entity can go tax free.