How To Avoid Capital Gains Tax On Stock


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Alternative : Constructive Realization

How to avoid capital gains tax on stocks | Selling stocks FIFO or LIFO

In his budget proposal to Congress, President Joe Biden proposed replacing stepped-up basis with constructive realization. Under that system, wealthy households would pay capital gains taxes when they gift or bequeath assets to their heirs. The gains would be realized for tax purposes as though a sale to a third party had occurredhence the term constructive realization.

The Biden proposal is limited in two key ways that protect ordinary Americans and owners of family farms and businesses. First, under the presidents plan, couples can still use the stepped-up basis provision for up to $2 million of gains . This means that, in effect, only a small number of families with substantial untaxed gains would be affected by the Biden proposal.

Second, the Biden plan allows those inheriting family-run farms and businesses to defer any tax on the original owners gains so long as the farms or businesses continue to be owned and operated by members of the family. As tax expert Bob Lord and this pieces author noted in a previous publication, these protections ensure that no one inheriting and operating a family farm or business would be forced to sell it for the purpose of paying new taxes under the Biden plan.

Contribute To Your Retirement Accounts

Investing in retirement accounts eliminates capital gains taxes on your portfolio. You can buy and sell stocks, bonds and other assets without triggering capital gains taxes. Withdrawals from Traditional IRA, 401 and similar accounts may lead to ordinary income taxes. However, Roth accounts eliminate taxes entirely on eligible withdrawals.

Two: Spreading Capital Gains Over Several Years

Another option for lowering your capital gains taxes can be to sell the stock or asset over several tax years this can help ease the tax burden.

For example, you might sell a part of an investment at the end of the year 2022, then another part in 2023, and the final portion at the start of 2024. The sale will be concluded in a little over twelve months, but tax liability will be dispersed over three tax years.

However, it is crucial to remember that waiting to sell investments or assets involves risks. The tax benefits of holding onto those assets may not outweigh the benefits of a good sale.

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Carry Over Your Losses

Its possible that your capital losses exceed your capital gains. In this case, you can deduct the difference as a loss on your tax return. However, the IRS places a limit on the number of losses you can deduct each year. As of right now, a married couple filing taxes jointly can deduct up to $3,000 of capital gains losses. But what if you have more than $3,000 worth of capital gains losses one year? If this is the case, the IRS allows you to carry over the excess loss to later years.

Sometimes, planners capture significant losses for certain strategies to work. However, due to the cap, those losses cant all be written off in a single year. Thats where we use the carryover rule to claim losses for several years in a row. Yet, not all losses qualify for multi-year carryover deductions. This is another area where youll need to have a conversation with your tax and financial advisers to determine exactly which strategy is right for your individual situation.

True financial planners, or wealth management advisers, realize that things like carryover losses, tax loss harvesting, contributions to retirement accounts, selling your house, and timing your asset sales make a difference in the amount of capital gains taxes you will pay and the amount of taxable income you have to claim. They will work with you to decrease your taxable income below the threshold, to help make a 0% rate on capital gains possible.

Take Advantage Of Tax

How To Avoid Paying Capital Gains Taxes

When you invest your money through a retirement plan, such as a 401, 403, or individual retirement account , it will grow without being subject to immediate taxes. You can also buy and sell investments within your retirement account without triggering capital gains tax.

In the case of traditional retirement accounts, your gains will be taxed as ordinary income when you withdraw money, but by then, you may be in a lower tax bracket than when you were working. With Roth IRA accounts, however, the money you withdraw will be tax-freeas long as you follow the relevant rules.

For investments outside of these accounts, it might behoove investors near retirement to wait until they stop working to sell. If their retirement income is low enough, their capital gains tax bill might be reduced, or they may be able to avoid paying any capital gains tax. But if theyre already in one of the no-pay brackets, theres a key factor to keep in mind: If the capital gain is large enough, it could increase their total taxable income to a level where they would incur a tax bill on their gains.

Capital losses can offset your capital gains as well as a portion of your regular income. Any amount left over after that can be carried over to future years.

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Which Assets Qualify For Capital Gains Treatment

Capital gains taxes apply to what are known as capital assets. Examples of capital assets include:

  • Real property used in your trade or business as rental property

Also excluded from capital gains treatment are certain self-created intangibles, such as:

  • Literary, musical, or artistic compositions
  • Letters, memoranda, or similar property
  • A patent, invention, model, design , or secret formula

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed in December 2017, excludes patents, inventions, models, designs , and any secret formulas sold after Dec. 31, 2017, from being treated as capital assets for capital gain/capital loss tax purposes.

How To Offset Capital Gains Tax On Your Investments

The IRS comes knocking whenever you make money. This is true even when you make money from your investments. You must pay capital gains tax when you sell your investments at a profit. That’s part of life. However, you can reduce what you owe. You just need to take certain steps to offset your gains. Here’s how to avoid capital gains tax and offsetting some of your capital gains taxes.

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Capital Gains Tax Rates For 2021 And 2022

Short-term capital gains are taxed at ordinary income tax rates up to 37% . On the other hand, long-term capital gains are taxed at different, generally lower rates. The capital gains rates are 0%, 15%, and 20%, depending on your taxable income. Here’s a breakdown for tax years 2021 and 2022:

Long-Term Capital Gains Tax Rates for 2021
Filing Status
$41,6751 to $258,600 Over $258,600

Although marginal tax brackets have changed over the years, historically , the maximum tax on ordinary income has almost always been significantly higher than the maximum rate on capital gains.

Not all capital gains are taxed according to the standard 0%/15%/20% schedule. Here are some exceptions where capital gains may be taxed at higher rates than 20%:

  • Gains on collectibles, such as artworks and stamp collections, are taxed at a maximum 28% rate.
  • The taxable portion of gain on the sale of qualified small business stock is also taxed at a maximum 28% rate.
  • The portion of any unrecaptured Section 1250 gain from selling Section 1250 real property is taxed at a maximum 25% rate.

How To Calculate Capital Gains Tax

Can I avoid or minimize capital gain taxes on stocks and mutual funds?

So, how would capital gains tax play out in your finances?

Lets say that youre single and earn $60,000. You sell a property which is subject to the long-term capital gains tax. At the time of sale, you see a $40,000 capital gain. In this example, you would fall into the 15% tax category because your income is more than $40,400 but less than $445,850.

With that, the capital gains tax you make on the sale will be $6,000. This tax will be in addition to your regular income taxes.

Read Also: Short Term Capital Gains Tax Rates 2021

Ways To Defer Or Pay No Capital Gains Tax On Your Stock Sales

Put more into your piggy bank with tax-planning strategies for capital gains.


Lets say you own stock that may generate a big capital gain when you sell it. It could be shares in Apple AMZN that you purchased a long time ago, founders stock in a startup that turned into a hot IPO company, or shares from employee stock option exercises or restricted stock vesting that have appreciated substantially. While most securities held over one year qualify for the favorable rate on long-term capital gains, the total tax can still be significant.

The complex federal tax code provides a few ways, depending on your income, personal financial goals, and even your health, to defer or pay no capital gains tax. If you follow the rules and consult tax experts when needed for the more sophisticated techniques, these tax-planning opportunities below are not tax dodges or loopholes that will get you in trouble with the IRS. Most are considered tax expenditures .

How Can I Avoid Paying Capital Gains Tax

You can minimise the CGT you pay by:

  • Holding onto an asset for more than 12 months if you are an individual. …
  • Offsetting your capital gain with capital losses. …
  • Revaluing a residential property before you rent it out. …
  • Taking advantage of small business CGT concessions. …
  • Increasing your asset cost base.
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    Do You Pay Capital Gains Tax On Divorce Settlements

    If you receive a divorce settlement that includes property or other capital assets, you may have to pay capital gains tax on the value of those assets. For example, lets say you and your spouse own a primary residence that you bought for $200,000. The house is now worth $500,000. If you sell the house, youll have to pay capital gains tax on the $300,000 profit.If you receive the house as part of your divorce settlement, you may have to pay capital gains tax on the value of the home if you sell it later. The amount of tax youll owe will depend on how long youve owned the house and what your tax bracket is.If youre in a high tax bracket, you may want to consider selling the house before you divorce so that you can pay capital gains tax on the lower value of the house. This can help you save money in the long run. If you have any other questions about capital gains tax and divorce settlements, you should speak to an accountant or tax lawyer.

    How Capital Gains Taxes Workand How You Can Minimize Them

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    Its easy to get caught up in choosing investments and forget about the tax consequencesparticularly, the capital gains tax. After all, picking the right stock or mutual fund can be challenging enough without worrying about after-tax returns. Likewise, selling a home can be a daunting task, even before you consider the tax bill.

    Still, figuring taxes into your overall strategyand timing when you buy and sellis crucial to getting the most out of your investments. Here, we look at the capital gains tax and what you can do to minimize it.

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    What’s The Difference Between A Short

    Generally, capital gains and losses are handled according to how long you’ve held a particular asset known as the holding period. Profits you make from selling assets youve held for a year or less are called short-term capital gains. Alternatively, gains from assets youve held for longer than a year are known as long-term capital gains. Typically, there are specific rules and different tax rates applied to short-term and long-term capital gains. In general, you will pay less in taxes on long-term capital gains than you will on short-term capital gains. Likewise, capital losses are also typically categorized as short term or long term using the same criteria.

    Make A Donation With Appreciated Stocks

    If you plan to make a donation to a charitable organization, dont make it with cash if you have stocks that have appreciated.

    Ive made that mistake early on. I wrote donation checks out of my bank account instead of the smarter, tax-advantage way of making a stock donation.

    You are able to take a tax deduction on the market value of the stocks donated.

    If you donate 100 shares with a market value of $10,000, you can deduct $10,000 from your taxable income.

    This is very powerful for me. I have stocks which have gone up over 10 times in 20 years.

    Take Apple for instance. I acquired Apple at about $30 a share a decade ago. The stock price has gone up to over $300 today.

    If I decide to sell 100 shares of Apple, my proceeds at $300/share come out to $30,000. It would be great if I can pocket the entire $30,000.

    But there is this little organization called the Internal Revenue Service which wants its cut.

    Since the gain is $27,000 I have to pay about $9,400 in long term capital gains tax .

    My net proceeds after taxes are $20,600 .

    If I then donate the $20,600 in cash to charity, I can deduct $20,600 from my income. At a marginal tax rate of 50%, I save $10,300 in taxes.

    Now, by donating the 100 shares of Apple directly to the charitable organization, I can deduct $30,000 from my income. At a marginal tax rate of 50%, I save $15,000 in taxes.

    You can set up a donor-advised fund with a brokerage company to start your donation of appreciated stocks.

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    Make Charity Donations In Stocks

    Donating stock directly to charity is an excellent way to avoid paying capital gains taxes on your investments. When you donate stock, you avoid paying capital gains tax on the profits from the sale of the stock. Donating to charity will not only help you sidestep capital gains tax on stocks, but youll also support a cause you care about.

    There are two benefits of donating shares of stock. First, youre not held liable for any capital gains taxes if theres an increased value of the shares. Second, you get a larger tax deduction for the total market value of the shares held for more than a year.

    Capital Gains Rates For 2022

    How To Avoid Paying Tax on Capital Gains

    Long-term capital gains tax rates are based on adjusted gross income . The basic capital gains rates are 0%, 15%, and 20%, depending on your taxable income. The income thresholds for the capital gains tax rates are adjusted each year for inflation.

    Capital Gains
    Over $488,500 Over $517,200

    Capital gains on a primary dwelling are taxed differently from other real estate, due to a special exclusion. The first $250,000 of your gain on the home sale is excluded from your income for that year, as long as you owned and lived in the home for two years or more out of the last five years. For , the exclusion is $500,000.

    Also Check: Tax Refund When To Expect

    Capital Gains Tax Rates

    Long-term capital gains are subject to lower rates of tax than short-term capital gains, which are taxed at ordinary income tax rates. You therefore need to know your holding period for any capital asset you sell. If you hold an asset for more than one year, the gain you realize when you sell it will be long-term capital gain and taxed at the reduced rates. For this reason, you should generally try to hold capital assets for at least one year to get lower rates.

    If you sell some but not all your stock in a company, the rules for determining your holding period will depend on your method of accounting for the securities . You also may get to count the holding period of the person from whom you acquired your stock if you acquired it other than by purchase or other taxable transaction .

    If you have long-term gains, the next thing you need to know is which capital gains tax bracket you fall into the 0%, 15%, or 20% bracket. Just like with your wages and other ordinary income, the rate at which you’re taxed on long-term capital gains depends on whether your taxable income is above or below certain thresholds for the year. Unlike tax rate brackets for ordinary income, once your total income is above the relevant threshold, all your capital gains are taxed at the higher rate .

    How Do You Offset Stock Gains

    Ways to Offset Capital Gains

  • Wait Longer Than a Year Before Selling. When an asset is held longer than a year before its sold, it qualifies for long-term status, thus lowering your capital gains tax rate.
  • Tax Loss Harvesting.
  • Sell When Income Is Lower.
  • Reduce Taxable Income.
  • Defer Capital Gains With a 1031 Exchange.
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    Selling Stocks 3 Ways You Might Minimize Your Capital Gains Taxes

    Many investors look to lock in equity gains as they rebalance their portfolios. These tips may help you limit the tax consequences.

    AS YOU REVIEW YOUR PORTFOLIO throughout the year, you may consider selling some investments that have increased significantly in value since you bought them. Selling high performers can help you capture long-term gains as you rebalance your portfolio periodically. You may owe capital gains tax on their increased value, says Joe Curtin, head of CIO Portfolio Management, Chief Investment Office, Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank. But rebalancing can help you keep your investments in line with your goals and preferred asset allocation. And remember that capital gains taxes are a result of successful investing, he says.

    While few people enjoy paying taxes, a capital gains tax of, say, 20%1 âmay be a small price to pay for success,â Curtin notes. âYou can celebrate keeping the 80%.â Still, there are several strategies you might consider discussing with your tax professional to help reduce what you may owe in capital gains tax, Curtin suggests. He offers several strategies to consider below.

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