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How to Lessen 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 strategies to bring them lower.

The following are useful tips that help you minimize your capital gains tax:

Wait a year (at least) 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 be able to save 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 held the stock for shorter than one year, you’ll pay 28% of $2,000, which is $560, on the transaction.

Sell when your earnings are low.

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 going down -your spouse is about to go jobless, for example, or you’re almost retiring – sell during a low income year to reduce 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 as well for not-so-known deductions, like the moving expense deduction, which is for those who need to move for employment. Instead of buying corporate bonds, go for government-issued bonds (states, local or municipal), income from which 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.

When possible, sync your capital losses with your capital gains.

One remarkable feature of capital gains is that they’re moderated by any capital losses incurred on a particular year. If you use up your capital losses during the years you have capital gains, you can reduce 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.