A Soon-to-End Gift Tax Break Spurs a Flurry of Activity

IN most years, the decision about how much to give to children and grandchildren is not that difficult. The amount that a person can give annually to anyone without having to pay gift tax is $13,000. That is a fairly simple calculation.

But there has always been a parallel system of gift taxation tied to the estate tax, which sets a lifetime limit that can be given away tax-free. Since the end of 2010, under the Bush tax cuts, this gift tax exemption has matched the estate exemption at a historically high $5 million (adjusted for inflation, $5.12 million this year). And now, like Cinderellas coach, this gift exemption is set to turn into a big pumpkin when it expires on Dec. 31, along