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.
The following are useful tips that help you minimize your capital gains tax:
Wait at least 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 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 influences the amount of long-term capital gains tax you need to pay. Taxpayers within the 10% and 15% brackets don’t even have to pay 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.
As your capital gain tax rate depends on your taxable income, general tax-savings methods can help you grab a nice 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. 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. Using up your capital losses in the years you have capital gains, will lessen 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. However, you may carry additional capital losses into future tax years, although it may take some time to use those up if you’ve had a particularly big loss.