The IRS estimates that sixty to ninety percent of taxpayers give real estate to family members for little or no consideration and then fail to file Form 709 to report the gift. If the gift is over $13,000, there is no penalty unless the total amount of gifts/taxable estate exceeds your $5 million lifetime gift exemption. See When to File Gift Tax Forms – SmartMoney.com. In other words there is no penalty unless you would have owed taxes. Even if gift tax isn’t due on the transfer, a return still has to be filed with the IRS if the amount of the gift exceeds the gift tax annual exclusion which is currently $13,000. To help catch these gift tax cheats, the IRS is working on a major compliance initiative.
The IRS has begun checking transfers in Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Ohio and has already audited or examined over 500 people thus far.
For full article see Stephanie Spinucci, Gift Tax Cheaters Beware! And IRS Cracking Down on Gift Tax Cheaters from Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog: Real Property, Trust and Estate by Gerry W. Beyer, Governor Preston E. Smith Regents Professor of Law.