If not, who pays the gift tax, the beneficiary or the trustee from trust funds?

Generally, there are 2 broad categories of trusts, revocable (the trust-maker retains the right to change the terms of the trust) and irrevocable (the trust-maker gives up all rights to change the trust terms by themselves.) In a revocable trust, because the trust-maker (aka – grantor or settlor) is retaining enough rights to have the trust assets included in their estate, no gifting has occurred in either the funding of the revocable trust or when the grantor takes assets out of the trust. If, however, the grantor of a revocable trust makes a distribution of cash from that trust to a third party other than their spouse, there is a gift, and it must be determined if a gift tax is owed.  Currently for 2021, an individual can gift up to $15,000.00 in total gifts to a specific individual per year (the annual gift tax exclusion) without filing a gift tax return and without that amount counting towards their lifetime exemption amount. This annual gift tax exclusion is for an unlimited number of individuals.  The current lifetime exemption amount for an individual is $11.7 million dollars.

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