My father started making annual announcements to me for several years beginning when I was ten or eleven. They went something like this: “Barbie, your mother and I have given you your gift.” I never knew what he meant and was afraid to ask, but I knew I was expected to express appreciation and I dutifully said my thank-you. But what kind of gift was this? I wondered. There was no toy or book or dress. Nothing tangible. Only disappointment.
My father’s pronouncements were always solemn and pompous, but it was not until I was in my early twenties that I learned that every year he was taking advantage of an IRS gift-tax-exemption rule to give me $10 thousand, tax free. Those annual “gifts” were the beginning of my inheritance. Continue reading