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Tax changes: Time to gift your kid a condo?

Financial planners are urging parents preparing to gift real estate to their children do so now, according to a story in The Wall Street Journa.l

That’s because as the lifetime gift-tax exemption will fall to $1 million for individuals and $2 million for couples in 2013 from $5.12 million and $10.24 million, respectively, this year.

Even if Congress intervenes before the present exemption expires, experts still anticipate some kind of reduction of the tax break. Moreover, the maximum tax rate on gifts exceeding the limits will rise to 55 percent on January 1 from 35 percent.

Some parents are passing properties to their children through limited liability companies, which offer a 15 to 20 percent discount on valuations due to a “lack of marketability.” This means outside buyers will balk at buying shares in a family-owned LLC because they would have to negotiate with a group of related members, the WSJ reported.

Another strategy for gifting a primary residence and avoiding estate taxes is a qualified personal residential trust. This avenue affords a discount under the “present value factor” since the child will not receive the property for a specified time period. If the parents die before the period is up, estate taxes will be incurred, and if they outlive the period, they will need to relocate or pay rent to the trust.

Parents also can beat the deadline by transferring publicly traded stocks into trusts and swapping them with real estate of the same value next year, providing cash gifts that their children can put toward a home purchase, or creating an irrevocable trust that will enable them to continue living in the property while paying rent to the trust.

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