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Parents willing to gift an average of $24K to help grown kids move out, CIBC poll says

Most parents who can afford it would be more than happy to gift their grown children a five-figure sum if it means they would move out and get started on life, according to a new poll commissioned by CIBC.
Most of those in the CIBC-commissioned polled said they would be happy to give their children a cash gift to help them get started in life. (Shutterstock)

Most parents who can afford it would be more than happy to gift their grown children a five-figure sum if it means they would move out and get started on life, according to a new poll commissioned by CIBC.

Angus Reid Forum polled 3,021 randomly selected Canadians across the country for their views and knowledge on rules surrounding gifting. The margin of error for the poll, conducted at the end of June, is 1.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Unlike what happens in some U.S. states and overseas, there are no taxes on monetary gifts in Canada. Almost one third of poll respondents knew that, but more than half didn't. And a little over 10 per cent of respondents incorrectly believed that the tax implications depended on the size of the gift, or that it would be treated as taxable income for the receiver.

Almost three-quarters of those with a child over 18 said they would be happy to give a cash gift if it would help the child move out, get married or otherwise move in with a partner. When given the option, almost two-thirds of parents would prefer to give cash rather than have an adult child live with them.

While there's no tax hit to be taken — and a cash gift can in fact lower your tax burden in some cases — "the caveat to making any financial gift is that you generally don't want to put your own finances at risk," managing director Jamie Golombek of the wealth strategies group at CIBC said. "You need to map out the lifestyle you want in retirement and the money you'll need before making a financial gift."

Among those who planned to give such a gift, the average cash amount was $24,125. But that rises depending on the family income:

  • Those earning more than $100,000 a year say they plan to give $40,558.
  • Those earning under $50,000 a year say they plan to give $22,784. 

Somewhat counterintuitively, those earning between $50,000 and $100,000 plan to give $17,926.

According to the latest census data from Statistics Canada, 42.3 per cent of people in their twenties are still living at home, a much higher percentage than in the past and almost double the ratio in the early 1980s.

Other numbers suggest a large chunk of parents are indeed making cash donations to help their children buy a first home.

Gifting money while alive can have tax benefits down the line, Golombek said, because estate administration taxes known as probate fees can eat up to as much as 1.7 per cent of an estate's assets. "By gifting assets before you die, these assets will not be subject to probate fees because they will not be part of your estate," Golombek said.

Many of those polled suggested if they themselves received an inheritance, they would bypass their children and give the funds directly to their offspring. Seventy-one per cent of parents said they would forward their inheritance or a portion of it to their children or grandchildren.

But many would have reservations doing so, the poll found, with 40 per cent saying they would worry about needing the money later, and 29 per cent worrying their children would blow it on something frivolous. Roughly one in seven respondents expressed reservations about gifting a large amount of cash because they would have no say in how it gets spent.

But most wouldn't attach any strings to it, with 60 per cent saying it's none of their business what the children spend it on.

"When you gift during your lifetime, you're able to enjoy seeing your beneficiaries use the money while at the same time reaping potential tax savings opportunities," Golombek said. "In addition, by gifting assets before you die, these assets will not be subject to probate fees because they will not be part of your estate."

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