|Tax Topic #409
||2008 Tax Year
Topic 409 - Capital Gains and Losses
Almost everything you own and use for personal or investment purposes is
a capital asset. Examples are your home, household furnishings, and stocks
or bonds held in your personal account. When you sell a capital asset, the
difference between the amount you sell it for and your basis, which is usually
what you paid for it, is a capital gain or a capital loss. If you received
the asset as a gift or inheritance, refer to Topic 703 for information
about your basis. You have a capital gain if you sell the asset for more than
your basis. You have a capital loss if you sell the asset for less than your
basis. Losses from the sale of personal–use property, such as your home
or car, are not deductible.
Capital gains and losses are classified as long–term or short–term.
If you hold the asset for more than one year before you dispose of it, your
capital gain or loss is long-term. If you hold it one year or less, your capital
gain or loss is short-term.
Capital gains and deductible capital losses are reported on Form 1040, Schedule D (PDF). If you have a net capital gain, that gain may be
taxed at a lower tax rate than the ordinary income tax rates. The term "net
capital gain" means the amount by which your net long–term capital gain
for the year is more than your net short–term capital loss. Currently
net capital gain is generally taxed at rates no higher than 15%, although,
for 2008 through 2010, some or all net capital gain may be taxed at 0%, if
it would otherwise be taxed at lower rates. There are three exceptions:
- The taxable part of a gain from selling Section 1202 qualified small business
stock is taxed at a maximum 28% rate.
- Net capital gain from selling collectibles (such as coins or art) is taxed
at a maximum 28% rate.
- The part of any net capital gain from selling Section 1250 real property
that is required to be recaptured in excess of straight-line depreciation
is taxed at a maximum 25% rate.
If you have a taxable capital gain, you may be required to make estimated
tax payments. Refer to Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated
Tax, for additional information.
If your capital losses exceed your capital gains, the amount of the excess
loss that can be claimed is the lessor of $3,000, ($1,500 if you are married
filing separately) or your total net loss as shown on line 16 of the 1040
Schedule D, Capital Gains and Loses. If your net capital loss is
more than this limit, you can carry the loss forward to later years. Use the
Capital Loss Carryover Worksheet in Publication 550, to figure the amount
Additional information on capital gains and losses is available in Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses, and Publication 544, Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets. If you sell your
main home, refer to Topics 701 and 703,
or to Publication 523, Selling Your Home.
Page Last Reviewed or Updated: December 22, 2008
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