43.4% capital gains tax? 10 things to know


Most income is ordinary, including payment for services, interest, business profits, dividends, money for winning the lottery, and most other payments. But for generations there has been a big tax break for long-term capital gains, those held over a year. Assuming you are over a year old, if you are selling your house, car, crypto stock, Amazon

shares or other assets, it is a long-term capital gain. Until now, the capital gain tax rate was zero, 15% or 20% depending on your income. In some cases you need to add the Obamacare tax of 3.8%, but at worst your total tax bill is 23.8%. On the other hand, ordinary salary income may be subject to a tax of 40.8% once you include payroll taxes. But change is in the wind. Here are 10 things to know.


1. The rate of 23.8% may rise to 43.4% for some. This rate hike is equivalent to a staggering 82% increase in the old rate. If you add in state income taxes, like California’s current rate of 13.3%, the government gets most of your gain. The current tax on long-term capital gains is progressive. You pay 0% on income up to $ 40,000, 15% on $ 40,000 up to $ 441,450 and 20% on income over $ 441,451. But these thresholds can change.

2.The 43.4% rate is supposed to affect only those earning $ 1 million or more. A big debate is who should face this stratospheric rate hike. But if you bought a home 30 years ago that is now worth over a million, you could be affected.

3. It may already be too late to sell. A natural reaction to an impending 82% tax rate hike is to sell quickly before the new law takes effect. But the proposal was specifically designed to prevent this. As proposed, the rate hike is already in force for sales after April 28, 2021. It might not pass of course, or it could go in a different version or with a different effective date. But at the moment, it’s hard to decide what to do. Are you selling now, thinking you’re stuck with the new, higher rates? Where are you waiting to see? If you wait, could you miss the opportunity to sell under the old rates? What if you waited until September and the tax hike passed, but with an effective date of August? There is no easy answer.

4. With the capital gain, you can offset the losses. You can use your capital losses to offset capital gains. Even if you don’t have any existing losses, you can time the assets to trigger losses along with your gains, in order to offset them.

5. You can subtract your base, but can you prove it? Capital gains tax is applied to your gain, not the proceeds of your sales, so your adjusted tax base can be subtracted. Your base is your initial investment, adjusted by things like renovation costs, investment expenses, etc. Keep your receipts, which can be relevant for decades with assets like a home. The IRS always wants receipts, and if you can’t establish your base, you might have to pay taxes on it all.

6. The timing of ordinary income is difficult, but the capital gain allows the timing. Normally, you can decide when to sell an asset and under what conditions. In contrast, with ordinary income, the implied receipt doctrine of “don’t pay me until January” does not work with the IRS. Essentially, this means that you can’t time your income in most cases. However, if you settle a lawsuit, you can refuse to sign a settlement agreement unless it says the defendant will pay you in installments. Even though it may sound as if you could have gotten the money earlier, there is no constructive receipt because you conditioned your signature to receive payment the way you wanted.

7. Keep track of other tax breaks. A home sale is taxable, but the principal home sale exemption may also apply, excluding tax up to $ 500,000 for certain home sales. And there are other advantages to being left alone. A good example is Small Business Stock, a Silicon Valley darling that allows up to $ 10 million in gain on certain sales of shares to evade taxes entirely.


8. Taxes on death are coming too. The most widespread change of all is impacting massive capital gains tax increases on death. President Biden’s tax plans reflect a massive shift in the way income and estate taxes interact, amounting to a big tax hike that will transform Income taxes on death. Under current law, inherited property receives a tax base on the fair market value on death. The base increase offers tax advantages to anyone who passes on valued assets, including real estate, stocks, family businesses and more. For generations, assets held at death have been marked-up by market value when you die. Small businesses are counting on it. President Biden would end the base increase, subject only to a $ 1 million exemption plus $ 250,000 gain on a house. Beyond that, everything would be taxed.

9. The Biden plan hits a lot more people for a lot more Income taxes once you die. After the Democratic National Convention, Mr. Biden pledged to “no new taxes” on incomes under $ 400,000 and on mom and pop businesses, but this rising taxes on death could affect everyone, including those earning less than $ 400,000. There does not appear to be a reliable estimate of how many people with highly valued assets rely on an increase in the base at death to avoid income tax.

ten.Some things are hard to justify. There are debates about fair tax increases, high rate proposals and death tax. But parts of the current capital gains tax law have been called abusive. A good example is the treatment of capital gains that some private equity fund managers to have. But no matter what your income, people care about the capital gain. Even so, the basic idea long entrenched in tax law is that everyone gets a break on asset sales versus regular income that could be on the chopping block.


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