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Tips for Decreasing 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 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.

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 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 earning low income.

Your income level influences the amount of long-term capital gains tax you need to pay. Those within the 10% and 15% brackets need not even 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. Increase your deductions, for instance, by giving to charity, getting pricey medical procedures before the year closes, or increasing 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.

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.