Reducing 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 ways to keep them as low as possible.

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

Wait one year 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 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 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 changes the amount of long-term capital gains tax you have 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 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.

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 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, 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 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 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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