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Understanding the Kiddie Tax

Do your children have income-generating assets in a custodial account? If so, be sure you understand the so-called kiddie tax.

This law was passed to discourage wealthier individuals from transferring assets to their children to take advantage of their lower tax rates. The kiddie tax has seen many iterations (see “Refund, anyone?” below), but current rules tax a minor child’s unearned income—including capital gains distributions, dividends, and interest income—at the parents’ tax rate if it exceeds the annual limit ($2,200 in 2021).

The tax applies to dependent children under the age of 18 at the end of the tax year (or full-time students younger than 24) and works like this:

  • The first $1,100 of unearned income is covered by the kiddie tax’s standard deduction, so it isn’t taxed.
  • The next $1,100 is taxed at the child’s marginal tax rate.
  • Anything above $2,200 is taxed at the parents’ marginal tax rate.

If your child also has earned income, say from a summer job, the rules become more complicated. To learn more, see IRS Publication 929 or consult a tax advisor.

What You Can Do Next

With Schwab Stock Slices™, you can purchase fractional shares of any stock in the S&P 500® Index for as little as $5. Learn how to give the gift of stock ownership via a custodial account.

Important Disclosures:

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. The investment strategies mentioned here may not be suitable for everyone. Each investor needs to review an investment strategy for his or her own particular situation before making any investment decision.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions. Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness, or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

Examples provided are for illustrative purposes only and not intended to be reflective of results you can expect to achieve.

This information does not constitute and is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax, legal, or investment planning advice. Where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, Schwab recommends consultation with a qualified tax advisor, CPA, financial planner, or investment manager.

Schwab Stock Slices is not intended to be investment advice or a recommendation of any stock. Investing in stocks can be volatile and involves risk, including loss of principal. Consider your individual circumstances prior to investing.

The “S&P 500® Index” is a product of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC or its affiliates (“SPDJI”), and has been licensed for use by Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. “CS&Co.”). Standard & Poor’s® and S&P® are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC (“S&P”; Dow Jones® is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC (“Dow Jones”). Schwab Stock Slices is not sponsored, endorsed, sold, or promoted by SPDJI, Dow Jones, S&P, or their respective affiliates, and none of such parties makes any representation regarding the advisability of using Schwab Stock Slices or investing in any security available through Schwab Stock Slices, nor do they have any liability for any errors, omissions, or interruptions of the S&P 500 Index.  

The Schwab Center for Financial Research is a division of Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

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