A gift or present is the transfer of something, without the need for compensation that is involved in trade. A gift is a voluntary act which does not require anything in return. Even though it involves possibly a social expectation of reciprocity, or a return in the form of prestige or power, a gift is meant to be free.
In many human societies, the act of mutually exchanging money, goods, etc. may contribute to social cohesion. Economists have elaborated the economics of gift-giving into the notion of a gift economy.
By extension the term gift can refer to anything that makes the other happier or less sad, especially as a favour, including forgiveness and kindness.
When material objects are given as gifts, in many cultures they are traditionally packaged in some manner. For example, in Western culture, gifts are often wrapped in wrapping paper
and accompanied by a gift note
which may note the occasion, the giftee's name, and the giver's name. In Chinese culture, red wrapping connotes luck.
The occasion may be:
Kinds of gifts
A gift may be one of
- an ordinary object,
- an object created for the express purpose of gift exchange, such as the armbands and necklaces in the Trobriand Islands' Kula exchange,
- an alternative gift such as a donation to a charity in the name of the recipient.
- a regift of an unwanted gift previously received by the giver.
- a virtual object as seen on Facebook, LiveJournal, both of which allow you to purchase virtual gifts or in games such as GiftTRAP which allow you to give virtual gifts. These are all examples of the Virtual Economy
- Downloadable gifts refer to virtual gifts like e-books, software and music files which you can purchase and instantly download from web vendors.
Legal aspects of gifts
At common law, for a gift to have legal effect, it was required that there be (1) intent by the donor to give a gift, (2) acceptance of the gift by the donee, and (3) delivery to the donee of the item to be given as a gift.
In some countries, certain types of gifts above a certain monetary amount are subject to taxation. For the United States see Gift tax in the United States.
Tax deductibility for gifts
Pursuant to , property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or inheritance is not included in gross income and thus a taxpayer does not have to include the value of the property when filing for taxes. Although many items might appear to be gift, courts have held that the most critical factor is the transferor's intent. Bogardus v. Commissioner, 302 U.S. 34, 43, 58 S.Ct. 61, 65, 82 L.Ed. 32. (1937). The transferor must demonstrate a "detached and disinterested generosity" when giving the gift to actually exclude the value of the gift from the taxpayer's gross income. Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. LoBue, 352 U.S. 243, 246, 76 S.Ct. 800, 803, 100 L.Ed. 1142 (1956). Unfortunately, the court's articulation of what exactly satisfies a "detached and disinterested generosity" leaves much to be desired.
Some situations are clearer, however.
- "Gifts" received at promotional events are not excluded from taxation:
For example, Oprah's seemingly good deed of giving new cars to her audience does not satisfy this definition because of Oprah's interest in the promotional value that this event causes for her television show.
- "Gifts" received from employers that benefit employees are not excluded from taxation:
clearly states that employers cannot exclude as a gift anything transferred to an employee that benefits the employee. Consequently, an employer cannot gift an employee's salary to avoid taxation.
In addition, policy reasons for the gift exclusion from gross income are unclear. It is said that no justification exists. It is also said that the exclusion is for administrative reasons, both for taxpayers and for the IRS. Without the exclusion taxpayers would have to keep track of all their gifts, including nominal ones, during the year, and this would create additional oversight problems for the IRS.
Taxation of Gifts in India
As per section 56(2)(vi) of the I T Act,any sum of money received by an individual or an HUF from is taxable if it aggregates to Rs 50,000 or more except
- from relatives;
- On the occasion of marriage;
- Under a will or inheritance;
- In contemplation of death of the payer;
- From any local authority as defined in Explanation to Clause 20 of section 10;
- From any fund or institution or university or medical institution or hospital or any tryst or institution referred in section 10(23C) or
- From any trust or institution registered u/s 12AA of the I T Act
Meaning of relative for the purpose of gift is also defined in the Explanation to section 56(2)(vi) of the I T Act as under:
(i) spouse of the individual;
(ii) brother or sister of the individual;
(iii) brother or sister of the spouse of the individual;
(iv) brother or sister of either of the parents of the individual;
(v) any lineal ascendant or descendant of the individual;
(vi) any lineal ascendant or descendant of the spouse of the individual;
(vii) spouse of the person referred to in clauses (ii) to (vi);
Some articles and answers on taxation of gifts in India
can be seen as return gifts to a deity
. Sacrifice can also be seen as a gift from
a deity: Lewis Hyde
remarks in The Gift
considers the Incarnation
and subsequent death of Jesus
to be a "gift" to humankind, and that the Jataka
contains a tale of the Buddha
in his incarnation as the Wise Hare giving the ultimate alms
by offering himself up as a meal for Sakka
. (Hyde, 1983, 58-60)
In the Eastern Orthodox Church the bread and wine that are consecrated during the Divine Liturgy are referred to as "the Gifts". They are first of all the gifts of the community (both individually and corporately) to God, and then, after the epiklesis, the Gifts of the Body and Blood of Christ to the Church.
- Marcel Mauss and W.D. Halls, Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies, W. W. Norton, 2000, trade paperback, ISBN 0-393-32043-X
- Lewis Hyde: The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, 1983 (ISBN 0-394-71519-5), especially part I, "A Theory of Gifts", part of which was originally published as "The Gift Must Always Move" in Co-Evolution Quarterly No. 35, Fall 1982.
- Jean-Luc Marion translated by Jeffrey L. Kosky, "Being Given: Toward a Phenomonology of Giveness", Stanford University Press, 2002 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University, (cloth : alk. paper) ISBN 0-8047-3410-0.