The federal estate and gift tax exemption (known as the “basic exclusion amount”) has increased to $11.7 million per taxpayer in 2021. The exemption in 2020 had been $11.58 million. The increase means that in 2021, an individual can make gifts during life or at death totaling $11.7 million without incurring gift or estate tax; a married couple can transfer $23.4 million of assets. The annual gift tax exclusion remains at $15,000 per donee (or $30,000 if spouses elect gift-splitting).
Note that it seems likely the Biden administration will attempt to pass a reduction in the exemption as well as other changes to the estate and gift tax law during the next two years when there are Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. It is unknown whether any such changes will be made retroactive to January 1, 2021.
We recommend consulting with your estate planning attorney early in 2021 to discuss whether large gifts now may be advisable.