For people looking for something unique to add to their Christmas wish lists, analysts and financial managers say they should consider shares of stock -- a gift that has the potential to keep on giving.
“Gifting stocks can be a great way to teach children or grandchildren about saving and investing, or a fun way of creating interest in the stock market, a company, or a particular industry,” says Eva Victor, director of wealth planning at Girard, a wealth management firm in the Philadelphia area.
One of the greatest advantages of gifting stock to a child is the tax benefit. Under the annual gift exclusion, individuals are allowed to give up to $15,000 annually (for 2020 and 2021) to any number of recipients without incurring a gift tax.
How to buy and gift stock
Giving stock isn’t something that requires a master’s degree, but there are some rules to pay attention to so you stay on the right side of the law.
If you’re thinking of giving stock to a child, Bankrate turned ConsumerAffairs onto a few options for how to make things as easy as possible:
Purchase stock specifically for a child. That can be done simply by using a custodial account over which you have control. A minor child should have a custodial account, while an of-age child may have a regular account. “While you could transfer the stock as physical certificates, it’s merely a novelty and pricey to do so, too,” said James Royal, Bankrate.com analyst and author of “The Zen of Thrift Conversions.”
Give stock from an existing investment account. Bankrate suggests contacting your broker to help make the transfer electronically or by stock certificate. Again, the recipient should have a brokerage account to receive the stock.
Give stock with an app. Many online brokers offer apps that allow you to give stock.
The sky is NOT the limit
If you’re sitting on a pile of cash and looking for the tax break of the century, there are some definite upsides, but you need to get a hold of yourself because there are legal thresholds that could cause tax headaches if you go over the limit.
Under the annual gift exclusion, you can safely give stock to any number of children (or anyone for that matter) without incurring a gift tax as long as you don’t go over the $15,000 limit per year.
“A couple (meaning a husband and wife separately) could gift up to $30,000 to every child and grandchild under this exclusion,” says Victor. “Any unused annual gift exclusion doesn’t carry over to later years.”
The IRS offers a full set of FAQs on gift taxes. If you’d like to find out more, those answers are available here.