Services Tips for The Average Joe

Reducing 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 are usually as high as regular income taxes. The good news is there are techniques to drive them down.

The following are useful tips that help you minimize your capital gains tax:

Wait one year before selling.

For capital gains to qualify for long-term status (and a tax rate cut), wait for at least one calendar year before you sell your property. You could save, depending on your tax rate, between 10% and 20%. For instance, if you sell stock leading to a capital gain of $2,000, and you fall under the 28% income tax bracket and have held the stock for over 12 months, you are to pay 15% of $2,000, which is $300. 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 changes the amount of long-term capital gains tax you have to pay. Individuals falling under the 10% and 15% brackets don’t even need to pay any 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.

Limit 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. Maximize your deductions, for example, by completing expensive medical procedures before yearend, donating to charity, or maximizing your traditional IRA or 401k contributions.

Look as well for not-so-known deductions, like the moving expense deduction, which is for those who need to move for employment. Pick bonds issued by states, local governments, or municipalities – whose income is non-taxable – over corporate bonds. There’s a whole bunch of potential tax breaks, so take time to check the IRS’s Credits & Deductions database to know which ones you may be qualified 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. To lower your tax, use up your capital losses in the years you have capital gains. There’s no restriction on how much in capital gains you should report, but you can only take $3,000 of net capital losses for every tax year. You can, however, carry extra capital losses into future tax years, but if you’ve had a particularly substantial loss, it may take a while for you to use those up.