The maximum that you can give per person is $11,000 with no tax consequences for the giver or for the receiver. If are giving the gift to a husband and wife, you can give $11,000 each (total $22,000). If the gifts are coming from you and YOUR spouse to your child and THEIR spouse, you can give up to $44,000.
Let me know if you still have questions.
There is NO limit to the amount that you can receive as a gift in a year or in a lifetime. The "limit" applies to the amount that the giver can give without incurring gift tax consequences.
You can give $11,000 per person per person (as Tammy described above) in 2005. In 2006, that amount is increased to $12,000 per person per person.
The GIVER has a $1,000,000 "lifetime exemption". This lifetime exemption applies to gifts in excess of the annual exclusion amount. In other words, if you give one person $50,000 this year, $39,000 will be absorbed by the lifetime exemption.
The lifetime exemption applies to the giver in total - not on a per person basis. In other words, if you give $500,000 to three separate people in 2005, the first $11,000 falls under the annual exclusion. That leaves $489,000 per person for a total of $1,467,000 of gifts in excess of the annual exclusion. The lifetime exemption will cover the first $1,000,000 leaving $467,000 that would be subject to gift tax.
If you give gifts that are less than or equal to the annual exclusion, you never use any of the lifetime exemption.
In addition, the lifetime exemption will reduce the amount of unified credit that is available to offset estate tax when the giver dies.
You are correct that you would not be required to pay gift tax on that amount. The amount in excess of $11,000, i.e. $289,000 will be absorbed by your $1,000,000 exemption. You WILL need to file a gift tax return to report any gifts in excess of the annual exclusion (that is how the IRS keeps track of how much exemption you have used).
There are no tax consequences to the recipient.