If a single person gives more than $15,000 in cash or assets (e.g. stocks, real estate, a car) in a year to any one person without expecting to receive something of equal value in return, they will need to file a gift tax return. However, breaching the $15,000 maximum doesn’t mean they have to pay a gift tax. It simply means they need to file IRS Form 709 to disclose the gift.
Also keep in mind two additional points. First, the $15,000 gift tax annual exclusion is per recipient. So, a person could gift $15,000 to several individuals without having to file a gift tax return.
Second, the exclusion also per giver. This only works for spouses, but for married couples, each spouse could give $15,000 to the same person, for a combined total of $30,000. Again this does not trigger the need to file a gift tax return.