Investing Strategies

How to pay 0% capital gains taxes with a six-figure income in 2023

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Planning to sell some investments this year? It’s less likely to affect your 2023 tax bill, experts say.

Here’s why: The IRS made dozens of inflation adjustments for 2023, including the long-term capital gains brackets, applying to investments held for more than one year.

This means you can have more taxable income before reaching the 15% or 20% brackets for investment earnings.

“It’s going to be pretty significant,” said Tommy Lucas, a certified financial planner and enrolled agent at Moisand Fitzgerald Tamayo in Orlando, Florida.

Here’s your capital gains tax bracket

With higher standard deductions and income thresholds for capital gains, it’s more likely you’ll fall into the 0% bracket in 2023, Lucas said.

For 2023, you may qualify for the 0% long-term capital gains rate with taxable income of $44,625 or less for single filers and $89,250 or less for married couples filing jointly.

The rates use “taxable income,” calculated by subtracting the greater of the standard or itemized deductions from your adjusted gross income.

For example, if a married couple makes $100,000 together in 2023, their taxable income may easily fall below $89,250 taxable income after subtracting the $27,700 married filing jointly standard deduction.

By comparison, you’ll fall into the 0% long-term capital gains bracket for 2022 with a taxable income of $41,675 or less for single filers and $83,350 or less for married couples filing jointly.

‘A really good tax-planning opportunity,’ says advisor

With taxable income below the thresholds, you can sell profitable assets without tax consequences. And for some investors, selling may be a chance to diversify amid market volatility, Lucas said.

“It’s there, it’s available, and it’s a really good tax-planning opportunity,” he added.

Whether you’re taking gains or tax-loss harvesting, which uses losses to offset profits, “you really have to have a handle on your entire reportable picture,” said Jim Guarino, a CFP, certified public accountant and managing director at Baker Newman Noyes in Woburn, Massachusetts.

That includes estimating year-end payouts from mutual funds in taxable accounts — which many investors don’t expect in a down year — and may cause a surprise tax bill, he said.

“Some additional loss harvesting might make a lot of sense if you’ve got that additional capital gain that’s coming down the road,” Guarino said.

Of course, the decision hinges on your taxable income, including payouts, since you won’t have taxable gains in the 0% capital gains bracket.

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