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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 can be about as much as regular income taxes. The good news is there are techniques to drive them down.

Below are helpful tips for minimizing your capital gains tax:

Wait at least 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 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 held the stock for hardly 12 month, you’ll pay $560 or 28% of $2,000 in taxes on the transaction.

Sell when your earnings are low.

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.

Because your capital gain tax rate is dependent on your taxable income, general tax-savings tricks can help you grab a favorable rate. For example, increase your deductions by donating to charity, contributing more to your traditional IRA or 401k, or completing expensive medical procedures before the end of the year.

Look for little-known deductions as well, such as the moving expense deduction, which you get when you move for a certain job. Pick bonds issued by states, local governments, or municipalities – whose income is non-taxable – over corporate bonds. 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.

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. Using up your capital losses in the years you have capital gains, will lessen your tax. There’s no cap on the amount of capital gains you can report, but you may only take $3,000 of net capital losses 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.

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