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Ask a Fool: I Sold Stocks at a $10,000 Loss in 2019 -- Can I Write It Off?

By Matthew Frankel, CFP® - Oct 25, 2019 at 12:00PM

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You can write off investment losses, but there are certain limitations.

Q: I had some stock investments go sour this year, and I ended up cutting my losses, down almost $10,000 altogether. Will I at least be able to write this off on my taxes?

First, I'd ask whether you had any capital gains for the year -- that is, other investments that you might have sold for a profit. You can use capital losses like yours to offset capital gains, with no limitation. Alternatively, if you own any stocks that you've been thinking about selling at a profit, but have been hesitant because of capital gains taxes, now might be a good time to do it. For tax purposes, you can use your $10,000 in losses to negate the profits you made.

On the other hand, if you don't have any capital gains to offset, you can still deduct investment losses from your other taxable income -- but only to a point.

Specifically, you can only use up to $3,000 of your investment losses as a deduction. Any excess can be carried over to the next tax year.

In your case, this means that if you didn't have any capital gains during 2019, you could take a $3,000 deduction for investment losses, and carry the other $7,000 over to the 2020 tax year. So, you'll eventually get to deduct all of your losses against your income, but if you don't have any capital gains to offset, it could take several years.

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