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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 can be about as much as regular income taxes. The good news is there are strategies to bring them lower.

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 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 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 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 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.

Since your capital gain tax rate relies on your taxable income, general tax-savings techniques can help you get a good rate. For example, increase your deductions by donating to charity, contributing more to your traditional IRA or 401k, or completing expensive medical procedures before the end of the year.

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 an entire range of possible tax breaks, so study the IRS’s Credits & Deductions database so you know what you can qualify for.

When possible, time 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. To lower your tax, use up your capital losses in the years you have capital gains. 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.

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