Capital Gains Taxes: 3 Things You Need to Know

Learn the tax rules on capital gains and why different rates can apply.

Mar 23, 2014 at 1:31PM

After five years of a raging bull market in stocks, many investors are sitting on huge capital gains. But it's easy to get confused about what tax rates you'll pay on your capital gains when you sell.

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, looks at the rules governing capital gains, noting that short-term capital gains on assets held for a year or less are subject to ordinary income tax rates. For long-term capital gains on assets owned longer than a year, rates of 0%, 15%, or 20% can apply depending on your regular tax bracket. But Dan notes that some assets don't qualify for those lower rates, citing examples like collectibles and the bullion ETFs SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEMKT:GLD) and iShares Silver Trust (NYSEMKT:SLV) as subject to a higher maximum rate of 28%. Dan also goes through depreciation recapture and the special 25% rate that applies in those circumstances. Dan concludes that it's important to know the tax impact of your selling decisions before you pull the trigger, so you'll avoid nasty surprises at tax time.

Don't pay more tax than you have to
Knowing about capital gains tax is just one way to stay ahead of the IRS. With the right planning, you can take steps to take control of your taxes and potentially even lower your tax bill. In our brand-new special report "How You Can Fight Back Against Higher Taxes," the Motley Fool's tax experts run through what to watch out for in doing your tax planning this year. With its concrete advice on how to cut taxes for decades to come, you won't want to miss out. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Dan Caplinger and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

A Financial Plan on an Index Card

Keeping it simple.

Aug 7, 2015 at 11:26AM

Two years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack wrote his entire financial plan on an index card.

It blew up. People loved the idea. Financial advice is often intentionally complicated. Obscurity lets advisors charge higher fees. But the most important parts are painfully simple. Here's how Pollack put it:

The card came out of chat I had regarding what I view as the financial industry's basic dilemma: The best investment advice fits on an index card. A commenter asked for the actual index card. Although I was originally speaking in metaphor, I grabbed a pen and one of my daughter's note cards, scribbled this out in maybe three minutes, snapped a picture with my iPhone, and the rest was history.

More advisors and investors caught onto the idea and started writing their own financial plans on a single index card.

I love the exercise, because it makes you think about what's important and forces you to be succinct.

So, here's my index-card financial plan:


Everything else is details. 

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