Gift taxes are taxes that supplement the Estate Tax. Gift taxes are placed on gifts given away to any person while you are still living, so that you may not avoid estate taxes by making gifts of your estate. You may give up to $12,000 a year in cash or assets to an unlimited number of people each year without incurring gift tax liability, but the gifts must have no conditions attached. Married couples can give, as a couple, a $24,000 gift per year to as many people as they want. Under federal tax law, gifts totaling more than $12,000 to one person in one year are considered a taxable gift and generate a potential gift tax. It does not matter if you give one $13,000 gift or 13 gifts of $1,000 each, or one gift of $12,000 and a "birthday gift" of $1,000. Gifts of a "future interest", no matter what their value, also are considered a taxable gift.
Gifts beyond the $12,000 limit (there is an exception for gifts that are directly paid by the gift giver for tuition and medical expenses) are considered "taxable gifts." Taxable gifts create liability for a gift tax. But gift tax is not due to be paid until you give away over $1,000,000 in your lifetime.