Gifting the down payment of a home is a trend that’s been growing increasingly common. Because it’s a gift, it doesn’t affect a borrower’s interest rate, but it also doesn’t count as income when lenders are determining whether or not an applicant qualifies for a mortgage. That being the case, for those who are in a position to gift the down payment of a home, here are some things you’ll likely want to know before you do it.
For starters, lenders are usually more than happy to allow gifting the down payment to a piece of property that is occupied by the owner (i.e. a residence), but usually won’t allow it for investment properties. Also, when a down payment is gifted, additional paperwork will be required on the part of the giver to ensure that the money doesn’t come from illicit sources.
The next big hurdle is the gift tax. It’s possible to gift someone up to $14,000, however any higher amount will be taxed by the IRS. There are a few ways to get around the gift tax, though. For one, it’s possible to gift someone up to $56,000 by making four separate gifts of $14,000. Additionally, one parent can gift $28,000 to someone, and then when both parents file their taxes, they agree to split the gift (thereby equaling $14,000 a piece, and not triggering the gift tax).
Another thing that needs to be known about giving gifts: they’re permanent. Suppose you give your child $56,000 towards the down payment of their first home and they instead choose to invest that money in a business venture that fails. Tough luck. Once you gift someone money, it’s out of the control of the giver unless alternative arrangements are made in the form of legally binding contracts.
No matter what, before gifting any significant amounts of money, always talk to your CPA to find out exactly how it could affect your taxes and finances as a whole.