Does the $13,000 Gift Tax Exemption apply to Medicaid?

When considering whether to make a gift, people often confuse the gift tax exemption with the medicaid gift rules. Here's a great article explaining this.

-- By K. Gabriel Heiser, Attorney

Many people are aware that there is some exemption for gifts, but the details are a little hazy. Usually it goes something like this, "I thought there was a $10,000 per person exemption for gifts, so there would not be a Medicaid penalty. No?"


First of all, the client is confusing a gift tax exclusion with a Medicaid gift exclusion.


Under federal gift tax rules, a "taxable" gift is made whenever one person makes gifts to another person of money or equivalent that exceed a total of (currently) $13,000 per year. (For many years this figure was pegged at $10,000, hence the confusion; now the exemption increases every few years to reflect inflation.) So making two gifts of $7,000 to the same person within the same calendar year will push you over the limit. But making one gift of $7,000 on December 31 and another the next day on January 1 does not push you over the limit, since the second gift is in the next calendar year. The "clock" is reset to zero every January 1, so to speak.


So what difference does it make if the gift is a "taxable" gift? It only matters if a person's lifetime taxable gifts will eventually exceed $1,000,000! And no client who is even thinking about applying for Medicaid is going to have that kind of dough. So as a practical matter it only means that there is an obligation to file a federal gift tax return if your gifts to one person in a calendar year exceed $13,000.


If you are married and one spouse makes a gift of, say, $20,000, to one person, by filing the federal gift tax return the couple can consent to "split" the gift. That way, each spouse is treated as having made a $10,000 gift, so neither will have made a taxable gift. Note that a federal gift tax return must be filed in order to split the gift; the fact of marriage alone will not affect the result.


Finally, note that only Connecticut and Tennessee still impose their own separate state gift taxes: CT exempts the first $2 million, but TN taxes gifts to an immediate family member that exceed $13,000/year. The rest of the states have no state gift tax, so if you live outside those two states and you're under the federal limit, you're all set.


What about Medicaid? Unfortunately, the general rule is that there is no exemption of any kind for a gift when figuring Medicaid penalties. If you give away $50,000 to one person or $10,000 to five people, it's all the same. The Medicaid folks simply tally up the total amount of gifts made within the last five years and divide by the average cost of a nursing home in your state to come up with the number of months of Medicaid ineligibility, starting on the day you apply.


Indeed there are exceptions for gifts to a spouse, or to a trust for a blind or disabled child, or of a gift of your home to certain people, etc. But for run-of-the-mill cash gifts to family members, be aware that any gifts you made within the five-year period prior to applying for Medicaid may well come back to haunt you, causing a period of Medicaid ineligibility.


K. Gabriel Heiser is an attorney with over 25 years experience in elder law and estate planning. Heiser is the author of “How to Protect Your Family's Assets from Devastating Nursing Home Costs: Medicaid Secrets,” an annually updated practical guide for the layperson. For more information about this book, visit Medicaid Secrets.


Here’s an article about Gift tax


New! Comments

Leave a comment about this article in the box below and share it with your Facebook friends.

Have a Medicaid Question or Comment?

We'd love to hear your questions, comments or opinions. Submit them here and other visitors can read them and comment on them. An e-mail address is not required.


The purpose of this feature is to stimulate discussion and share experiences regarding topics of interest. However, please note these submissions are not reviewed for legal accuracy. They may not apply to your situation and should not be considered legal advice. For specific legal advice you must consult with your attorney.



What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

How Home Sale/Lease Back Treated by Medicaid? 
hypo: -parents own house. -son buys the house from parents for fair market value. -parents lease house back from son at fair market rental value. …

Click here to write your own.



Medicaid Planning: Life Estate in House | Medicaid and Community Spouse Assets | Planning For Medicaid Coverage | Effect of Life Insurance Proceeds On Medicaid Eligibility | New Medicaid Annuity Rule Explained | How Can an Irrevocable Trust Be Used in Medicaid Planning? | Selling the House and Medicaid Qualification | How To Qualify For Medicaid If My House Is Worth More Than $500,000 | What is Elder Law? | Living Trust and Medicaid | What Is An Inheritor's Trust? | Should I Take Out a Loan Against My House to Pay For A Nursing Home? | Can I Give My House to My Child and Qualify for Medicaid? | Elder Care Lawyer Fees | Choosing A Nursing Home | Do I Need a Will? | Capacity To Sign a Will, Trust or Power of Attorney | Second Marriage Will Issues | Special Needs Trust Issues | What is a Common Law Marriage? | What is a Medicaid Annuity? | How does a Medicaid Annuity Work? | How To Protect My Home and Still Qualify for Medicaid | Medicaid and Spousal Will Election | Do It Yourself Medicaid Planning | Medicaid Rules and Reverse Mortgages | How Does Life Insurance Policy Ownership Affect Medicaid Eligibility? | Medicaid Estate Recovery Rules | Medicaid Estate Recovery Planning | Limitations on Medicaid Estate Recovery | Do Medicaid Plans Work? | Nursing Home Costs and Payment Options | Don't Be Too Cheap! | What Happens to My Home If I Go On Medicaid? | Can Spouse Receiving Medicaid Pay Income to Community Spouse? | Will Medicaid Exempt My Home If I Leave It? | Tips for Discussing Wills and Powers of Attorney With Your Parents | Elderly Marriage Issues | Durable Power of Attorney Medicaid Considerations |


From Does the $13,000 Gift Tax Exemption apply to Medicaid to Medicaid Questions | Estate Planning Blog | Basics of Estate Planning | Selecting a Financial Planner | Estate Planning and Taxes | Is This Good Time to Buy a House? | Incorporate My Business | Best Low Cost Investment | Fringe Benefit Plans | Estate Planning and Charitable Giving | Health Insurance Comparisons | Best Medicare Supplement Plan | Retirement and Estate Planning | What is a Power of Attorney? | Current Estate Planning News | Estate Planning Forum | Estate Planning Books | Choosing an Estate Planning Attorney | Find a Probate Attorney | Estate Planning Questions |


Return to Home Page

About Us | Contact Us | Site Search | Terms of Use / Privacy Policy


Subscribe to
Estate Planning Hub


Your First Name


Your E-mail Address

We keep this private.



Follow the Estate Planning Blog.




--by Beth Heikkinen
Marquette, Michigan
I just want to thank you for this site. It answered my questions. I think many people that do research on the net take it for granted and when they find what they are looking for they forget "someone put time, money, etc into providing me with this information."

Thank you!


Like This Site





Visit Our Social Media Pages

Become a Fan of Estate Planning Hub on Facebook Follow EstatePlanningHub on Twitter Follow EstatePlanningHub on Google+ Subscribe EstatePlanningHub Video on YouTube

Get a PDF version of this website and its sister site here.