How to Lessen 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.
The following are useful tips that help you minimize your capital gains tax:
Wait at least one year 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%. If you sell stock with a $2,000 capital gain, for instance, and you are in the 28% income tax bracket and have owned the stock for longer than a year, you need to pay 15% on the transaction. 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 receiving a low income.
Your income level influences the amount of long-term capital gains tax you need 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 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.
Lower your taxable income.
Since your capital gain tax rate relies on your taxable income, general tax-savings techniques can help you get a good 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 for little-known deductions as well, such as the moving expense deduction, which you get when you move for a certain 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 range of potential tax breaks out there, so refer to the IRS’s Credits & Deductions database to know what you may 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. 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.