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How to Differentiate Between Long-Term & Short-Term Capital Gains?

Capital gains are the result when you sell a capital asset for more than you paid. Capital assets include stocks, bonds, precious metals, jewellery and real estate. You will pay different rates on long-term or short-term depending on how much time has passed before selling it.

If you sell your assets, make sure to keep these taxes in mind. If you’ve been day trading online then any profits are taxable and it depends on how long the asset was held before selling; if short-term capital gains tax rates will apply instead of the lower ones for other types of income like dividends or interest earned from bonds.

Long-term capital gains are a taxable investment income that is only taxed at 0%, 15% or 20%. This means if you have an annual salary of $20,000 and report long term capital gain earnings the tax rate on most taxpayers who report this kind of income will be lower than those with no capital gains.

Capital gains are taxed at a rate equal to your ordinary income, which can be up to 37% depending on the tax bracket.

The Difference Between Short-Term and Long-Term

short term or long term capital gains

Short-term capital gains are taxed as ordinary income. Long term capital gains benefit from special tax rates, which is why they’re often referred to as short term ones.

Short-term gains are taxed as regular taxable income, meaning one falls under whichever tax bracket they fall in currently. There are seven federal brackets with rates ranging from 10% to 37%.

When you sell an asset, such as a house or car, the profit is called your capital gain. There are many factors that determine how much money you make on this sale and thus affect what percentage of tax will be applied to these profits (if any).

The first factor is your adjusted basis; it’s simply whatever you paid minus depreciation if there was no depreciation then it’s just the price tag.

If someone gives something to another person as a gift rather than selling them their own property for cash they receive its original value from whoever bought/gave them said object so in those cases, we use “inherited cost” which means we take our donor’s(original buyer) costs into account when determining whether or not taxes.

Capital Gains and State Taxes

Each state has its own capital gains tax policy, so it’s important to be up-to-date with the latest rules. Some states have no income taxes or special treatment for them, while others do not allow residents who are nonresidents of another state to avoid paying local taxes on their investment earnings altogether.

The following states have no income taxes, and therefore do not charge capital gains:

  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • New Hampshire
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Capital gains are not taxed in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. Montana offers a credit to offset any capital gains tax owed.

Capital Gains Special Rates and Exceptions

They may have different time frames or tax brackets, which can affect how much one owes in taxes on their investments for that year.


Your investments are taxed at a 28% rate. This includes art, antique jewellery, precious metals stamps, collections, coins and other collectables.

Small-Business Stock

A qualified small business stock can be sold without tax if it was acquired from a qualifying company after August 10, 1993, and has been held for at least five years. If the gain is above $10 million or ten times the adjusted basis of this investment then that amount will be taxed as capital gains with an effective rate of 28%.

Owner-Occupied Real Estate

When you sell your home, the government will not tax up to $250K of capital gains. If you owned and lived in it for two years leading up to its sale and sold it at less than what you paid for it, this loss is non-taxable because personal property such as a house cannot be used when filing taxes if there was an overall net loss on selling them.

For example, a single taxpayer bought their house for $300,000 and sold it later on for $700,000 they made a profit of 400K. After applying the 250k exemption to that number you are left with 150K which is taxed at capital gains rates.

When you add a new kitchen to your home for $50,000 then the taxable capital gain would be lowered from $150,000 down to only being taxed on an amount of $100. To do this we add any significant repairs and improvements that were made in order to further reduce the tax burden.

Investment Real Estate

This deduction is meant to reflect the steady deterioration of the property as it ages, and essentially reduces how much you are considered having paid for your real estate investment. This will also increase your taxable capital gain when selling this asset because depreciation has increased the original value in which it was purchased.

Buying a building for $200,000 and are allowed to claim $5,000 in depreciation deductions per year over time, then it will be treated as if your cost is actually just $195k. If you later sell the real estate property after claiming that deduction on taxes each of those years (which means paying a 25% tax rate), another 5K comes back into your pocket.

You can see how it’s possible for a taxpayer to gain $15,000 from the sale of their building but only pay capital gains on less than half that amount. This is because they may have deducted some or all of those costs as an expense when filing taxes in prior years and now must recapture part of those deductions by paying high tax rates (25%) on them at the time they sell their property.

Investment Exceptions

Investors may be subject to another tax, the net investment income (NII), on their capital gains if they earn over a certain amount per year.

The NII is an additional 3.8% and applies to all your investments in addition to any other taxes that you already pay for making these earnings in the first place.

If married filing jointly, it can apply when MAGI exceeds $250k; single/head of household at $200k; married filing separately with incomes exceeding 125K).

Advantages of Long-Term Capital Gains

long term capital gains advantages

If you are going to pay capital gains tax once an investment is sold, it may be better for your long-term financial health if you keep the asset until maturity.

selling a stock after owning it for more than one year, your tax rate will be lower. In the example above if you had sold XYZ at $50 per share and earned 100k in regular income then while filing jointly with your spouse on average compared to selling before or within a year of buying would have saved about 7% in taxes owed.



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