Tax Reform Planning Series: Take advantage of lower tax rates and investment gains

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), 2018 ordinary tax rates are generally lower than those for 2017. For example, the top rate has been reduced from 39.6% to 37%. (The remaining six rates are 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, and 35%.) Also, the top rate now applies to joint filers whose taxable income is over $600,000 (as opposed to $470,700 for 2017). Some taxpayers who were taxed at 39.6% in 2017 may now find themselves in the 35% tax bracket.

In other good news, the TCJA didn’t change the capital gains rate structure. Therefore, most categories of long-term capital gain are taxed at 0%, 15%, or 20%. The maximum 20% rate applies to joint filers with 2018 taxable income (including long-term gains) above $479,000. Higher income individuals also can be hit with the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT). The bottom line is that taxpayers falling outside of the top ordinary tax bracket of 37% can be subject to the maximum capital gains rate of 20%.

As you evaluate investments held in your taxable brokerage firm accounts, consider the tax impact of selling appreciated securities (currently worth more than you paid for them) before the end of this year. For most taxpayers, the tax rate on long-term capital gains is still much lower than the rate on short-term gains. Therefore, it often makes sense to hold appreciated securities for at least a year and a day before selling to qualify for the lower long-term gain tax rate.

Also, taxpayers who expect to be subject to a higher capital gain rate after 2018 should consider selling profitable long-term investments in 2018 to take advantage of this year’s rate. The proceeds and tax savings could be used to help fund a traditional IRA (possibly deductible) or Roth IRA to postpone or eliminate future taxes.

For more information on how you can take advantage of these benefits, contact a ShindelRock tax professional today.