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Let's say Alice $10k in (electronic) Series I savings bonds for Bob as a gift.

There's a limit of $10k in bond purchases per recipient, so this introduces potential complications.

Consider the following scenarios:

  • Alice changes her mind N years later and wants to keep/cash the bond.

  • Alice finds out (N years later!) that either Eve or Bob himself had already purchased $10k in the same year for Bob.

  • Bob becomes unable and/or unwilling to accept the bond as a gift later.

In each of these cases, what recourse(s) does Alice have? For example:

  • Is there any way for Alice to reclaim the funds?

  • When/how would Alice even know that the problem exists (e.g., if someone has already purchased a gift for Bob that would exceed the $10k limit)?

  • What happens to the accrued interest on bonds that exceed Bob's $10k?

I realize this is a lot of questions, but I figured they're all about the same underlying problem ("what happens when there turns out to be a problem with transferring the gift?"), so I asked all of them in one question here.

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    You may want to reference the Treasury Direct FAQ on procedures and limitations. Dec 27 '21 at 8:01
  • @MorrisonChang: I already have; it doesn't answer what happens in these situations.
    – user541686
    Dec 27 '21 at 8:05
  • Honestly my expectation is that if Alice tries to gift Bob and Bob already bought up to $10k annual limit, it would be returned to Alice's Gift Box. I would also suspect that transferring out of the Gift Box back to the giver might be a manual/customer service operation. You can always email Treasury Direct with your question(s). Dec 27 '21 at 8:26
  • @MorrisonChang: There's a video of the gift delivery process here, I don't think there's customer service involved, it's just via the web. I'm not sure what "returning" would mean either, since it's the purchase date that matters, and so if you purchased it at the wrong time, that means you can never deliver it right? So would it stop being a gift after that, and just be added to your own account? Meaning you'd potentially exceed your own limit that way?! And yeah I'd email them if needed, just thought I'd ask here.
    – user541686
    Dec 27 '21 at 9:15
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When buying Series I Bonds as a gift, you need to provide the SSN of the recipient.
This avoids double-gifting, as the government will know this SSN was already used.

If the recipient finds out later, and does not want the value (who would do that though?), he can always donate it or ignore it (and it will sit there forever), or cash out and gift it back (or burn it…). Remember, there is no tax consequence for gift receivers in the US.

You generally can’t take gifts back just because you feel like - so there is no support for such an option.

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  • "This avoids double-gifting, as the government will know this SSN was already used." Do you mean the website would produce an error and prevent you from purchasing if you buy in their name and their quota was already exceeded? "You generally can’t take gifts back just because you feel like" —that's not the question here though. Transferring the bond is a separate step from the purchase. I'm not sure it's "theirs" (or that they even find out about it) until you actually transfer it to their account. So it's not about "taking back" something you gave, because it's not given yet.
    – user541686
    Dec 27 '21 at 7:35

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