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Reducing 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 may be equally high as regular income taxes. The good news is there are ways to keep them as low as possible.

Here are handy tips to help you reduce your capital gains tax:

Wait 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. You could save, depending on your tax rate, between 10% and 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 earning 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.

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. 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 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 prominent feature of capital gains is that they’re lessened by any capital losses you incur on a certain year. To lower your tax, use up your capital losses in the years you have capital gains. 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. 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.

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