How to Lessen Your Capital Gains Tax
Aside from paying income tax and payroll tax, individuals who buy and sell personal and investment assets should also 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 strategies to bring them lower.
The following are useful tips that help you minimize your capital gains tax:
Wait a year (at least) 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. 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 your earnings are low.
Your income level affects the amount of long-term capital gains tax you are obliged to pay. Those within the 10% and 15% brackets need not even pay long-term capital gains tax at all. If your income level is about to drop – let’s say your spouse is almost retiring or you’re about to lose your job – selling during this low income year will decrease your capital gains tax rate.
Bring down your taxable income.
As your capital gain tax rate depends on your taxable income, general tax-savings methods can help you grab a nice rate. For example, increase your deductions by donating to charity, contributing more to your traditional IRA or 401k, or completing expensive medical procedures before the end of the year.
Look as well for not-so-known deductions, like the moving expense deduction, which is for those who need to move for employment. Rather than buying corporate bonds, get bonds issued by municipalities, local governments and states, as the income they produce is non-taxable. There’s a whole range of potential tax breaks out there, so refer to the IRS’s Credits & Deductions database to know what you may qualify for.
When possible, sync your capital losses with your capital gains.
One prominent feature of capital gains is that they’re lessened by any capital losses you incur on a certain 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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