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Issue Number: IRS Tax
Ten Important Facts About Capital
Gains and Losses
Did you know that almost everything you own and use for
personal or investment purposes is a capital asset? Capital assets include
a home, household furnishings and stocks and bonds held in a personal
account. When a capital asset is sold, the difference between the amount
you paid for the asset and the amount you sold it for is a capital gain or
Here are ten facts from the IRS about gains and losses and how they can
affect your Federal income tax return.
- Almost everything you own and use for personal purposes, pleasure or
investment is a capital asset.
- 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.
- You must report all capital gains.
- You may deduct capital losses only on investment property, not on
property held for personal use.
- Capital gains and losses are classified as long-term or short-term,
depending on how long you hold the property before you sell it. If you
hold it more than one year, your capital gain or loss is long-term. If
you hold it one year or less, your capital gain or loss is short-term.
- If you have long-term gains in excess of your long-term losses, you
have a net capital gain to the extent your net long-term capital gain is
more than your net short-term capital loss, if any.
- The tax rates that apply to net capital gain are generally lower
than the tax rates that apply to other income. For 2010, the maximum
capital gains rate for most people is 15%. For lower-income individuals,
the rate may be 0% on some or all of the net capital gain. Special types
of net capital gain can be taxed at 25% or 28%.
- If your capital losses exceed your capital gains, the excess can be
deducted on your tax return and used to reduce other income, such as
wages, up to an annual limit of $3,000, or $1,500 if you are married
- If your total net capital loss is more than the yearly limit on
capital loss deductions, you can carry over the unused part to the next
year and treat it as if you incurred it in that next year.
- Capital gains and losses are reported on Schedule D, Capital Gains
and Losses, and then transferred to line 13 of Form 1040.
For more information about reporting capital gains and losses, see the
Schedule D instructions, Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses
or Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax. All forms and publications are
available at http://www.irs.gov
or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
- Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax (PDF
- Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses (PDF
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