Understanding capital gains taxes is essential and can help with end of year tax planning ideas.
Whether you're selling stocks, real estate, or even a valuable baseball card collection, understanding capital gains taxes can help you make smarter financial decisions and keep more of your hard-earned money.
What are Capital Gains?
A capital gain is the profit you make from selling an investment. For example, if you buy an asset for $1,000 and sell it for $1,500, your capital gain is $500.
Capital gains are divided into two categories:
Short-term Capital Gains: These are profits made from selling assets held for a year or less. They are typically taxed at your highest marginal tax bracket.
Long-term Capital Gains: These are profits made from selling assets held for more than a year. They often have a lower tax rate, which can vary based on your taxable income and filing status. There are three long term cap gain brackets: 0%, 15%, and 20%.
Why Does it Matter?
The distinction between short-term and long-term capital gains is important because it affects how much tax you pay. Long-term capital gains are taxed at a more favorable rate than short-term gains. This means that holding onto an asset for a slightly longer period, such as 13 months instead of 11, could significantly reduce your tax bill.
Planning ahead is important when it comes to capital gains taxes and you or your advisor should be incorporating tax planning into your overall investment strategy.
5 Star Tip: Your advisor should never tell you they do not do tax planning. This is an extremely valuable service that can save you multiple times over! Tax planning is a vital part of my services.
Here are some strategies to help you minimize capital gains taxes, such as:
Cap Gain Exclusion on Primary Residence: The sale of your primary residence may be excluded from capital gains taxes, up to certain limits. However, this does not apply to rental or second properties.
Tax Efficient Investing: Holding onto investments for more than a year can result in lower taxes vs selling investments held for less than a year. This helps you invest tax efficiently. High trading can kill you on short term gains.
Tax-Loss Harvesting: Selling securities at a loss can offset capital gains in other areas, especially during a market downturn. There are ordering rules you should follow on how to match up short and long term gains against short and long term losses. Talk to a professional or see your CPA.
Gifting Assets: Instead of selling assets, consider gifting them, as this may help avoid triggering capital gains taxes.
Stock Options: such as Incentive Stock Options (ISOs), Non Qualified Stock Options (NSOs), Restricted Stock Units (RSUs), and Employee Stock Purchase Plans (ESPP). These are great, but a minefield of taxes! ISOs can also ambush you with the AMT. I can guide you through this.
What About Retirement Accounts? - like 401(k)s or IRAs - cap gains do not apply in these accounts. They have different taxation rules. Just an fyi.
Stay Informed, remember that tax laws always change, so stay on top of this or work with someone who will help you with the latest rules and strategies. Taking a proactive approach to tax planning saves you money.
Remember, what you don't know can hurt you!
John Piershale, CFP®, AEP®
A Fee-Only and Fiduciary Advisor
John Piershale Wealth Management, LLC is an Investment Adviser registered with the State of IL and in other jurisdictions where exempt from registration. All views, expressions, and opinions included in this communication are subject to change. This communication is not intended as an offer or solicitation to buy, hold or sell any financial instrument or investment advisory services. Any information provided has been obtained from sources considered reliable, but we do not guarantee the accuracy or the completeness of any description of securities, markets or developments mentioned. The information contained herein is intended to be used for educational purposes only and is not exhaustive. Diversification and/or any strategy that may be discussed does not guarantee against investment losses but are intended to help manage risk and return. If applicable, historical discussions and/or opinions are not predictive of future events. The content is presented in good faith and has been drawn from sources believed to be reliable. The content is not intended to be legal, tax or financial advice. Please consult a legal, tax or financial professional for information specific to your individual situation.