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Reducing 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 are usually as high 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 at least one year before selling.

To qualify capital gains for long-term status (and a tax rate cut), wait until a calendar year has passed before you sell your property. Depending on your tax rate, you may save from 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 shorter than one year, you’ll pay 28% of $2,000, which is $560, on the transaction.

Sell when you’re receiving a low income.

Your income level affects the amount of long-term capital gains tax you are obliged 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.

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 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.

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 ceiling on the amount of capital gains you have to report, for each tax year, you are only allowed to take net capital losses worth $3,000. 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.