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 may be equally high 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 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. Depending on your tax rate, you may save from 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 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 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.
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 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 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 ceiling on the amount of capital gains you have to report, for each tax year, you are only allowed to take net capital losses worth $3,000. 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.