Tips for Decreasing 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 are usually as high 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 a year (at least) 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. Depending on your tax rate, you may save from 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 earning low income.
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 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.
Because your capital gain tax rate is dependent on your taxable income, general tax-savings tricks can help you grab a favorable 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 for little-known deductions as well, such as the moving expense deduction, which you get when you move for a certain job. 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 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.
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. 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.