How To Avoid Capital Gains Tax In US – this article will discuss some legal strategies for reducing capital gains taxes in the US.

If you are looking to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, which is what I specialize in, you can email me (advice@adamfayed.com) or WhatsApp (+44-7393-450-837).

This article is not formal tax advice is for informational purposes only, and the facts might have changed since we wrote it.

What is more, the US has state and federal taxes, so you should always seek qualified tax advice.


Are you wondering how to avoid capital gains tax in US? Learn about it in this article.

You have thus gained financial success through investing or, more generally, successful asset trades. Congrats on the impressive win.

Uncle Sam wants a piece of your gains as well, so don’t count your profits too soon. You have a capital gain and must pay tax on it if you have realized a profit on an investment in a taxable account.

The amount you pay also depends on your overall income and the length of time you’ve kept those assets. You will owe either 0 percent, 15 percent, or 20 percent in the tax years of 2022 or 2023 if you have a long-term capital gain, which means you held the asset for longer than a year.

What Is Capital Gains Tax?

When an investor sells an investment, they must pay a tax on the profit they made. When the investment is sold, it must be paid for that tax year.

Depending on the filer’s income, there will be a long-term capital gains tax of 0%, 15%, or 20% of the profit for the 2022 and 2023 tax years. Every year, the income levels are changed.

Any profit from an investment that has been owned for more than a year will be subject to long-term capital gains tax. There is a short-term capital gains tax if the investor owns the investment for six months or less.

The taxpaying entity’s ordinary income tax bracket determines the short-term rate. That is a higher tax rate than the rate on capital gains for all taxpayers except the highest earners.

Capital gains are referred to as having been “realized” when stock shares or any other taxable investment assets are sold. Unsold investments, or “unrealized capital gains,” are not taxed. No matter how long they are held or how much their value rises, stock shares will not be taxed until they are sold.

According to current federal tax law, only profits from the sale of assets held for more than a year, or “long-term capital gains,” are subject to capital gains taxes, which are currently levied at a rate of 0%, 15%, or 20%. This depends on the tax bracket of the taxpayer ffor the relevant year.

Taxpayers typically pay a higher rate on their income than any potential long-term capital gains. They have the incentive to hold investments for a minimum of one year because the tax on the profit will be lower after that.

Any profits made from buying and selling assets held for less than a year are not only taxed, but they are also taxed at a higher rate than profits made from holding assets for a longer period of time.

Day traders and other individuals who benefit from the simplicity and speed of online trading should be aware of this.

The total amount of capital losses incurred during the year may be deducted from the taxable capital gains for that year.

In other words, the net capital gain is what you must pay in taxes. Reportable net losses are limited to $3,000 per year, but unused losses may be carried forward to subsequent tax years.

How To Avoid Capital Gains Tax In US
Capital Gains. Image from itep.

What Is The Capital Gains Tax Rate For 2022 And 2023?

For taxation purposes, a profit made on an asset sold less than a year after purchase is typically treated as if it were salary or wages. Your ordinary income or earned income is increased by these gains when you file your tax return.

In general, the same holds true for an asset’s dividend payments, which, while not capital gains, still show a profit. Dividends are subject to ordinary income taxation in the United States for individuals paying taxes at a rate of 15% or higher.

For long-term capital gains, however, a different system is in place. A rate schedule that is based on the taxable income of the taxpayer for that year determines how much tax you must pay on assets that you own for longer than a year before selling them for a profit. Each year, the rates are lowered to account for inflation.

Individual taxpayers who have taxable income totaling $41,675 or less in 2022, for instance, won’t be subject to any capital gains tax. If their income is between $41,676 and $459,750, they will, however, pay 15% on capital gains. The percentage rises to 20% above that level of income.

If their total taxable income in 2023 is $44,625 or less, individual filers will not be subject to capital gains tax. If their annual income ranges from $44,626 to $492,300, the rate on capital gains increases to 15%. The rate rises to 20% over that threshold of income.

If the taxpayer’s income exceeds a certain threshold, those capital gains may also be subject to the net investment income tax (NIIT), a separate charge of 3.8%. Dependent on the filer’s status, the income thresholds (individual, married filing jointly, etc.)

The tax rates for ordinary income taxes are in effect for short-term capital gains. The following tax rates are in effect for 2022–2023: 10%, 12%, 22%, 32%, and 37%.

For short-term capital gains taxes, there is no 0% rate or 20% cap, in contrast to long-term capital gains taxes.

Taxes on capital gains can be inconvenient, but some of the best investments, like stocks, let you avoid paying taxes on gains as long as you don’t sell the position before realizing the gains. Therefore, you would not be required to pay taxes on the gains from holding your investments for decades.

How Do Capital Gains Tax Work?

When you have to pay capital gains tax, a portion of the profit you made from selling your asset is taxed. The amount you must pay varies depending on the kind of your income, asset you sold, how long you owned it, and the proceeds from the sale.

Remember that only the excess income from the sale is subject to capital gains taxes. The full amount of your sale is not subject to the assigned tax rate.

Let’s look at an illustration. Imagine you paid $250,000 for a house ten years ago. But now is the time to proceed. You list your house on the market and decide to accept a $350,000 offer.

In this illustration, the sale of your home results in a capital gain of $100,000. You must pay 20% of your profit if your income and asset class place you in the 20% capital gains tax bracket.

That amounts to $20,000 or 20% of $100,000. Due to the fact that you had to spend $250,000 to purchase the asset, you are exempt from paying 20% of the total $350,000 sale.

A capital loss is what a capital gain is not. Selling a capital asset for less than you paid for it results in a capital loss. For instance, you would incur a capital loss of $50,000 if you sold the house you paid $250,000 for $200,000 instead.

It stands to reason that if capital gains taxes are due on the sale of your home, you can also claim a loss as a tax deduction.

Regrettably, you cannot deduct capital losses from the sale of personal property that you occupy. Only losses incurred by properties you purchased as investments or rentals are eligible for a deduction.

The amount of capital gains taxes you must pay is governed by unique laws. You don’t have to pay capital gains taxes until you actually sell your investment, which is an important point to keep in mind.

You don’t have to include the increase in value of your home in your income if it increases steadily over time. Only when you choose to sell will the tax be assessed. By strategically selling your investments, you may be able to offset your capital gains with capital losses.

How To Calculate Capital Gains Tax?

Your taxable gains for the year can be determined by deducting capital losses from capital gains.

If you have experienced capital gains and losses on both short-term and long-term investments, the calculation is a little more difficult.

Prior to anything else, separate short-term from long-term gains and losses by placing them in different piles. To determine the sum of all short-term gains, all short-term gains must be reconciled. Following that, the recent losses are added up. Gains and losses over the long term are then totaled.

To arrive at a net short-term gain or loss, the short-term gains and losses are netted against one another. The long-term gains and losses are handled in a similar manner.

By deducting the asset’s purchase price from its selling price, a capital gain is calculated. As a result, if you paid $1,000 for a stock and sold it for $2,000, you would have made $1,000 in capital gains. In the tax year in which the asset was sold, you will have to pay taxes on the $1,000 capital gain.

Simply stated: Capital Gain = Selling Price – Purchase Price

Keep in mind that capital gains are only subject to tax when they are realized, or sold. You have an unrealized capital gain if you keep the stock rather than selling it. Until you sold the asset, no tax would be owed on the gain.

The amount of tax on capital gains is determined by how long you have owned the asset. Your capital gain will be taxed at the long-term capital gains tax rate if you hold a stock for a year or more.

However, your capital gain will be taxed at your ordinary income tax rate if you hold a stock for less than a year before selling it.

How To Avoid Capital Gains Tax In US (Or Reduce It)

As a result of the capital gains tax, the investment’s overall return is effectively decreased. The net capital gains taxes that some investors owe for the year can be reduced or even eliminated in a legal manner.

The simplest strategy is to keep assets for longer than a year before selling them. It is a wise decision to do that because long-term capital gains typically have lower taxes than short-term gains do.

1. Making Use of Capital Losses

How to avoid capital gains tax? Make use of capital losses. Since capital gains will be offset by capital losses, the annual capital gains tax will be reduced. What if the losses outweigh the gains, though?

There are two possibilities. Up to $3,000 in excess losses over gains may be deducted from your income. Any excess loss that is not used in the current year can be deducted from income in order to lower your future tax obligations.

Say, for instance, that an investor sells some stocks for a profit of $5,000 while losing $20,000 on the sale of other stocks. The $5,000 gain’s tax liability can be offset by the capital loss. The remaining $15,000 in capital losses can then be used to reduce income and, consequently, the tax due on those earnings.

Therefore, an investor with an annual income of $50,000 can report $50,000 less the maximum annual claim of $3,000 in the first year. The total amount of taxable income is $47,000.

The investor can still deduct up to $3,000 per year for the following four years on the remaining $12,000 in capital losses.

2. Use A Robot Advisor

How to avoid capital gains tax? Make use of robo-advisors. Robo-advisors frequently use tax techniques that you might overlook or be ignorant of, like tax-loss harvesting. Compared to maintaining a strategy on your own, using these services could help you pay less in capital gains taxes.

Robo-advisors, for instance, might spot investments that have lost value and could be used to lower your tax liability. Investors strategically employ investment losses to lower their tax obligations in tax-loss harvesting.

In the modern era, robo-advisors offer low-cost automated investment planning tools that make use of cutting-edge algorithms. These automated systems can find several options for increasing earnings while reducing tax obligations.

How To Avoid Capital Gains Tax In US
Roboadvisor. Image from Finance Twins.

3. Avoid Deviating From The Wash-Sale Rule

How to avoid capital gains tax? Do not break away from the wash-sale rule. Keep in mind that buying the same investment again after selling stock shares at a loss to obtain a tax benefit is a common practice. If you do that in 30 days or less, the IRS wash-sale rule will apply to this series of transactions.

A Schedule D form must be filled out to report any kind of material capital gains.

4. Make Use Of Tax-Favored Retirement Plans

Due to advantageous long-term capital gains rates, keeping an asset for longer than a year may significantly lower your tax obligation. Other tactics involve using retirement accounts to maximize growth while delaying the payment of capital gains taxes.

401(k), traditional IRA, solo (401K), and SEP IRAs are a few tax-advantaged accounts that permit your investments to grow tax-deferred.

As long as you don’t withdraw money before retirement age, which the IRS defines as 59 1/2, you won’t generally pay capital gains taxes when buying or selling assets. This implies that any possible taxes you might have owed to the government can keep boosting your investments.

Other types of accounts, such as a Roth IRA or a 529 college savings plan, are excellent choices for accumulating wealth without triggering capital gains taxes.

These long-term investment strategies are funded with after-tax dollars, and any potential capital gains grow tax-free due to the tax structure of the investments.

Therefore, there are no federal income taxes owed on earnings or the initial investment when money is withdrawn for eligible expenses like retirement or college tuition.

Utilizing tax-advantaged accounts has numerous advantages. You can make wise financial decisions by considering your options.

One of the many benefits of taking part in a retirement plan like a 401(k) or IRA is the tax-free growth of your investments from year to year. To put it another way, you can buy and sell within a retirement plan without annually losing money to Uncle Sam.

Most plans do not require members to pay tax on their contributions until the money is withdrawn. However, regardless of the nature of the underlying investment, withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income.

The Roth IRA or Roth 401(k) is an exception to this rule because income taxes are deducted as the money is deposited into the account, resulting in tax-free qualified withdrawals.

5. Cash In After Retiring 

How to avoid capital gains tax? Cash in after retiring. Consider delaying the sale of profitable assets as you near retirement. If your retirement income is lower, the capital gains tax obligation might be diminished. You might even be able to avoid paying any capital gains tax at all.

In conclusion, consider the effects of paying taxes now rather than when you’re retired. If you realize the gain sooner, you might be forced to pay taxes on the gain and move out of the low- or no-pay bracket.

6. Continue To Invest And Know And When To Sell

How to avoid capital gains tax? Continue to invest. Your income tax rate, which we’ve stressed, is a crucial consideration when thinking about capital gains.

Waiting until you are no longer employed before selling profitable investments could significantly reduce your tax obligation, especially if your income is low. You may not owe any taxes at all in some circumstances.

The same might apply if you leave your job, retire early, or experience a significant change in your taxable income. Essentially, you can assess your financial situation annually and choose the best time to sell an investment.

7. Be Mindful Of Holding Periods

A sale of an asset must occur more than one year and one day after the date of purchase in order for the gain to be considered long-term.

Before you sell a security that you purchased about a year ago, be sure to verify the actual trade date of the purchase. Waiting just a few days might be enough to prevent it from being treated as a short-term capital gain.

Naturally, these timing strategies have a greater impact on big trades than on little ones. The same holds true whether you are in a higher tax bracket than a lower one.

8. Select A Cost Basis

When purchasing and selling shares of the mutual fund or the same company at different times, most investors determine the cost basis using the first-in, first-out (FIFO) method.

There are four other approaches available:

  • Last in, first out (LIFO)
  • Dollar value LIFO
  • Average cost (only for mutual fund shares)
  • Specific share identification

The best option will depend on a number of variables, including the basis price of the purchased shares or units and the anticipated gain. For complex cases, you might need to speak with a tax advisor.

Calculating your cost basis can be challenging. Your statements will be available on the website of the online broker you use. Make sure you have accurate records of some kind in any case.

If you don’t have the original confirmation statement or other proof from when the security was bought, trying to figure out when it was bought and for how much can be a nightmare. So be sure to keep track of your statements.

This is especially problematic if you need to figure out precisely how much was gained or lost when selling a stock. These dates are required for the Schedule D form.

Short-Term Capital Gains Tax vs. Long-Term Capital Gains Tax

The length of time you’ve owned the property is one of the most crucial elements that affects how much capital gains tax you’ll have to pay on real estate. Capital gains taxes come in two flavours: short-term and long-term. Let’s examine how these various taxes are levied.

Long-Term Capital Gains Tax

When you decide to sell an asset that you have owned for more than a year, long-term capital gains tax is applicable. The precise amount of long-term capital gains tax you’ll have to pay is based on your regular income. Your percentage payment will increase as your income does.

Short-term tax rates are typically much less favorable than long-term capital gains taxes. If your income is lower, you might even be able to pay no long-term capital tax. The tax on long-term capital gains can be as high as 20%.

Short-Term Capital Gains Tax

Short-term capital gains taxes apply if you own an asset for a year or less before selling it. Short-term capital gains are regarded as regular income by the IRS.

It follows that any profit generated from the sale of your asset will be included in your taxable income for the year. This may cause you to fall into a higher tax bracket and pay more in taxes overall for the year.

Let’s examine a case in point. Consider earning a salary of $40,000 and deciding to sell a possession you’ve had for less than a year. You make a capital gain of $50,000 when you sell the asset.

The IRS counts both your salary and the money you made from the sale as regular income when it comes time to file your taxes. $90,000 in total will be subject to taxation for the entire year.

Compared to long-term rates, short-term capital gains tax rates are significantly higher. For the most part, investors try to stay away from them. According to your income, short-term gain taxes for 2021 range from 10% to 37%, matching federal tax brackets.

How To Avoid Capital Gains Tax In US
Capital Gains Tax. Image from Brookings Institution.

Do You Pay State Capital Gains Taxes?

There are some exceptions, but in general, you’ll pay state taxes on your capital gains in addition to federal taxes.

The majority of states simply tax your investment income at the same rate they already apply to your earned income, but some states do so in a different manner, and some do not apply any income tax at all.

Only seven states—Alaska, Nevada, Florida, South Dakota, Washington, Texas, and Wyoming—do not impose an income tax. While two additional states, Tennessee and New Hampshire, don’t tax earned income, they do tax investment income, which includes dividends.

Nine of the states that do have an income tax treat long-term capital gains differently from regular income. Arizona, Hawaii, Arkansas, Montana, Vermont, North Dakota, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Wisconsin are some of these states.

However, this reduced rate may come in a variety of forms, such as credits or deductions that lower the effective tax rate on capital gains.

Only investments made within the state or within certain industries are exempt from capital gains taxes in some other states.

What Is The Real Estate Capital Gains Tax?

According to the tax code, profits from the sale of a home are exempt from capital gains tax up to the amount of $250,000 (or $500,000 for married couples filing jointly).

Following are some guidelines for this particular exclusion:

  • A house is only covered if it serves as your primary residence. Rental properties are exempt from it.
  • You must have spent at least two of the previous five years residing in the house. You don’t necessarily need to have lived there for two years straight.
  • This exclusion may be invoked only once every two years.

Find out your cost basis so that you can calculate your debt with precision. Include the purchase price, the cost of any additions or improvements to the home that will last longer than a year, as well as any costs incurred during the purchase and sale of the property.

Closing costs, title insurance, and settlement fees are included in the former, whereas real estate commissions and legal fees are included in the latter. The taxable profit is then calculated by deducting the sale price from the home’s total cost basis.

If you are just on the cusp of the $250,000/$500,000 exemption threshold, deducting these expenses from the home’s sale price will reduce your capital gain on the sale.

Final Thoughts

More of your money can stay in your own pocket by lowering the capital gains taxes you pay on particular assets.

Depending on your income and the asset in question, capital gains taxes can range from 0% to 28%. When creating a solid tax strategy, it may be wise to take into account offsets, tax-advantaged retirement accounts, and long-term investments.

Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?

Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 522.5 million answers views on Quora.com and a widely sold book on Amazon and a contributor on Forbes.


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