How to Lessen Your Capital Gains Tax
On top of paying income tax and payroll tax, people buying and selling personal and investment assets also need to deal with the capital gains tax system. Capital gain rates can be about as much 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 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 save from 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 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 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 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.
Bring down 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.
Also look for vague or not-so-known deductions, like the moving expense deduction for those who have to move for a job. Pick bonds issued by states, local governments, or municipalities – whose income is non-taxable – over corporate bonds. 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.
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. Using up your capital losses in the years you have capital gains, will lessen 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.