Tips for Decreasing Your Capital Gains Tax

On top of paying income tax and payroll tax, people buying and selling personal and investment assets also need to deal with the capital gains tax system. Capital gain rates can be about as much as regular income taxes. The good news is there are techniques to drive them down.

Here are handy tips to help you reduce your capital gains tax:

Wait at least one year before selling.

To qualify capital gains for long-term status (and a tax rate cut), wait until a calendar year has passed before you sell your property. You could save, depending on your tax rate, between 10% and 20%. If you sell stock with a $2,000 capital gain, for instance, and you are in the 28% income tax bracket and have owned the stock for longer than a year, you need to pay 15% on the transaction. If you’ve held the stock for hardly 12 month, you’ll pay $560 or 28% of $2,000 in taxes on the transaction.

Sell when you’re earning low income.

Your income level affects the amount of long-term capital gains tax you are obliged to pay. Taxpayers within the 10% and 15% brackets don’t even have to pay long-term capital gains tax at all. If your income level is going down -your spouse is about to go jobless, for example, or you’re almost retiring – sell during a low income year to reduce your capital gains tax rate.

Lower your taxable income.

Since your capital gain tax rate relies on your taxable income, general tax-savings techniques can help you get a good rate. Increase your deductions, for instance, by giving to charity, getting pricey medical procedures before the year closes, or increasing your traditional IRA or 401k contributions.

Also look for vague or not-so-known deductions, like the moving expense deduction for those who have to move for a job. Instead of buying corporate bonds, go for government-issued bonds (states, local or municipal), income from which is non-taxable. There’s an entire range of possible tax breaks, so study the IRS’s Credits & Deductions database so you know what you can qualify for.

When possible, time your capital losses with your capital gains.

One important feature of capital gains is that they’re diminished by any capital losses you incur within a specific year. To lower your tax, use up your capital losses in the years you have capital gains. There’s no ceiling on the amount of capital gains you have to report, for each tax year, you are only allowed to take net capital losses worth $3,000. However, you may carry additional capital losses into future tax years, although it may take some time to use those up if you’ve had a particularly big loss.

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