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My sister and I would like to give another relative $25,000 as a gift. We have a joint bank account together, and had planned on writing a single check from the joint account for the full amount. We consider the gift as being half from each of us, so $12,500 per person, safely under the annual gift allowance.

However, since the full amount is over the annual gift allowance and I'd be the only one signing the check, would the IRS consider this more as a single gift from me, which would be over the annual gift allowance? It would be much less convenient to send two checks, one from each of us, but if it's the only way to avoid having to fill out the gift tax form with my taxes, that's what we would wind up doing.

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    I assume the checkbook is with you and your sister lives far away? Or your bank charges for each check written on the account? For heaven's sake, just send two checks signed individually by each of you (preferably from different accounts) and two separate letters saying something like "Dear Uncle Joe, I wish to give you a Christmas present of $12,500. A check is enclosed. Your loving nephew, Stan" and "Dear Uncle Joe, I wish to give you a Christmas present of $12,500. A check is enclosed. Your loving niece, Cissy" and each of you should keep a copy of your letter in your tax folder. – Dilip Sarwate Dec 25 '14 at 14:48
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The one that signs the check is the one that's giving the gift, and unless it is a spouse - gift splitting won't work.

I suggest each of you to write a separate check. It would be even "cleaner" if it is not coming from joint accounts.

  • Would the IRS see it as a gift-tax avoidance scheme if each person wrote a check to themselves from the joint account, them turned around and wrote a check to the relative from their own account. Logically this seems equivalent to two checks from the joint account, but tax laws (and IRS interpretations) seem to have their own logic. – KeithB Dec 26 '14 at 16:30
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    @KeithB Unless otherwise specified, joint accounts are owned equally. I.e.: each owns 50%. So when each withdraws equal amounts - they just take their part of money out. – littleadv Dec 26 '14 at 18:54
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    In view of the time of the year, if time is not of the essence, one check for 12.5K sent by OP Stan today and another check for 12.5K sent on or after 1/1/2015 will work too. Caveat: Uncle Joe needs to cash the first check before 12/31. – Dilip Sarwate Dec 26 '14 at 21:13

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