The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

57. Do gifts count as income?

Gifts from Persons with No Financial Responsibility

A friend, charity or relative (except for a parent of a minor child or a spouse) does not have financial responsibility for an EAEDC recipient and is a non-legally responsible person. The following gifts from nonlegally responsible persons do not count as income:

  • gifts of less than $30 in a three-month period, 106 C.M.R. § 704.250(N);
  • gifts (cash or non-cash) that are restricted for a specific purpose, such as to buy a car, or paid to a vendor, such as a landlord or utility company. If the full amount of the expense is paid, the EAEDC recipient may be subject to an in-kind income deduction. See Question 53. 106 C.M.R. § 704.250(AA).

Gifts from Persons with Financial Responsibility

A spouse, or the parent of a minor child, has financial responsibility for the spouse or the child and is considered a legally responsible person. Contributions these individuals make are countable income. However, the following gifts do not count as income against EAEDC benefits:

  • gifts (other than child support) of less than $30 in a three-month period, 106 C.M.R. § 704.250(N);
  • non-cash gifts to the recipient or money paid directly to a vendor on the recipient's behalf. If the payment covers the full amount of the expense, the EAEDC recipient may be subject to an in-kind income deduction. See Question 53. 106 C.M.R. § 704.210(C).

Example: Sue Rosen is on EAEDC. Her spouse gives $200 directly to Sue’s landlord. The gift is not countable as income since the money is paid to the landlord and not to Sue. If Sue receives the money directly from her husband, even if intended to pay the rent, it is countable income. If Sue's husband paid 100% of the rent, she would have an in-kind income deduction. See Question 53. If Sue’s husband actually lives with her, all of his income above a shared living threshold amount is countable toward her. See Question 62.

Advocacy Reminders:

  • Countable gifts (cash or non-cash) from non-legally responsible persons and countable non-cash gifts from legally responsible persons that cover the full expense of a need listed in the In-Kind Income Chart (for example rent) are counted at the in-kind value, not the actual value.
  • One-time gifts that are countable are also treated as lump sum income. See Question 54. Recurring gifts (received more than once) that are countable are not treated as lump sum income, but are countable as income in the month the gift is received. Gifts that are noncountable should not be counted as lump sum income.
  • To avoid risking a fraud referral by DTA, it is better to report changes that may affect eligibility such as receipt of gifts, even though DTA should not count these gifts if they meet the noncountable income rules.

Limit Offer