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Rignt concept. Bad interpretation. Both situations above are 2014 gifts. A gift is completed when the gifter can no longer affect the gift. This is dependent on state law but usually means after the check has cleared. See for one case that went to Tax Court.

What I read is that the tax court found for Metzger and said that the IRS didn't get to claim that it wasn't a gift until after the check had cleared. The tax court said that the date on the check applied because the donor intended to make a gift, the donor presented the check to the recipient in a reasonable time, and the delivery was unconditional.
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