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How to Lessen 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 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 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 affects the amount of long-term capital gains tax you are obliged 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 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.

Limit 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.

Look as well for not-so-known deductions, like the moving expense deduction, which is for those who need to move for employment. 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 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 important feature of capital gains is that they’re diminished by any capital losses you incur within a specific year. If you use up your capital losses during the years you have capital gains, you can reduce 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 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.

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