Tips for Decreasing Your Capital Gains Tax
Besides paying income tax and payroll tax, persons who buy and sell personal and investment assets also have to work with the capital gains tax system. Capital gain rates may be equally high as regular income taxes. The good news is there are ways to keep them as low as possible.
Here are handy tips to help you reduce your capital gains tax:
Wait a year (at least) before selling.
For capital gains to be qualified for long-term status (and less tax), wait a year before you sell the property. Depending on your tax rate, you may be able to save 10% to 20%. For instance, if you sell stock where the capital gain is $2,000, belong to the 28% income tax bracket, and have held the stock for over a year, you’ll have to pay 15% of $2,000 on the transaction. If you’ve owned the stock for barely a year, you’ll pay $560, which is 28% of $2,000, on the transaction.
Sell when you’re receiving a 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 expected to go down- for instance, if your spouse is about to be unemployed or if you’re nearing retirement – sell within this low income year and cut your capital gains tax rate.
Bring down your taxable income.
Because your capital gain tax rate is dependent on your taxable income, general tax-savings tricks can help you grab a favorable 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.
Look for little-known deductions as well, such as the moving expense deduction, which you get when you move for a certain job. Pick bonds issued by states, local governments, or municipalities – whose income is non-taxable – over corporate bonds. 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.
Time your capital losses with your capital gains if possible.
One remarkable feature of capital gains is that they’re moderated by any capital losses incurred on a particular year. If you use up your capital losses during the years you have capital gains, you can reduce your tax. There’s no cap on the amount of capital gains you can report, but you may only take $3,000 of net capital losses every tax year. You can carry additional capital losses into future tax years, however, although it may take a while before you can use those up if you’ve absorbed a substantial loss.
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