4 Helpful Ways to Reduce Tax Rates on Your Stock Investments

By Chika


Last Updated: December 10, 2021


Most times, investors tend to overlook the effects of taxation on their portfolio gains.

The fixation on making profits blindsides us from factoring in taxation costs. Taxes on investment profits can be reduced, deferred, or even eliminated legally. As a consequence, understanding the best tactics for lowering taxes and keeping more of your money working for you is advantageous.


How Stock Investments Are Taxed

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) taxes your investment income, but in a much different way than it does to your working-wage income.

These disparities apply not just to the tax rates you pay, but also to the timing and calculation of taxes on investment income. Investments generate money for investors through capital gains and dividends, each of which is taxed differently. 

Capital gains tax is a tax on profits from the sale of stocks. The taxes paid on capital gains from the stock sale may vary, depending on how long the investor has held the stock.

A tax on earnings from the sale of a stock held for less than a year is known as a short-term capital gains tax. A tax on earnings from the sale of an asset held for more than a year is known as long-term capital gains tax. 

Depending on your taxable income and filing status, long-term capital gains tax rates range from 0% to 15% to 20%. On the other hand, taxes on short-term capital gains are about the same range as your regular income tax. On average, taxes on long-term capital gains are lower than short-term capital gains. 

Dividends are also deemed as taxable income, but the rate varies based on the dividend type.

There are two kinds of dividends: qualified and nonqualified. While the tax rate on nonqualified dividends (ordinary dividends) is the same as the regular income tax bracket, the rate on qualified dividends is 0%, 15%, or 20%, depending on your taxable income and filing status. This is usually lower than the rate for nonqualified dividends.


4 Ways to Reduce the Impact of Taxes on Your Stock Investment

Here are some strategies investors can use to reduce the effect of taxation on their investments. 

1. Practice passive investing

You're only taxed on realized capital gains, or when you sell an investment for cash, according to the IRS tax regulations.

This presents a loophole that can be exploited to your advantage - which is not selling your stocks. Each time you sell, you are required to pay taxes on the gains. By holding your investments for long periods rather than trading frequently, you can reduce the amount of taxes you pay on your investment.

A bonus benefit of passive investment is that it tends to outperform active investment over the long term. As a result, you not only save on taxes but also make more money. 

2. Open an IRA

Employees who want to save for retirement while getting tax benefits might consider an IRA.

A traditional IRA allows you to save money before paying taxes, decreasing your taxes for the current year. Any earnings you make – capital gains or dividends – will be taxed later. When it comes time to take distributions from the account after turning 59 1/2, you'll have to pay taxes on the money you withdraw.

As a result, you may legally defer taxes in your IRA for decades.

A Roth IRA, on the other hand, is an excellent method to keep the Internal Revenue Service out of your pocket for good. Because you may put money into a Roth IRA after taxes, you won't get a tax break the year you start contributing.

You can, however, make tax-free contributions and then withdraw them tax-free after you reach the age of 59 1/2. Experts generally consider it to be the finest retirement account option.

You should consider whether a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA is better suited to your needs. Whatever choice you make, you must follow the rules to the letter, since failing to do so might result in penalties. Don't try to avoid paying taxes just to find yourself in a new tax quagmire.

3. Contribute to a 401(k) plan

A 401(k) plan sponsored by your company provides many of the same tax advantages as an IRA. A traditional 401(k) allows you to save money by deferring pre-tax money from your paycheck. You'll have to pay taxes on any withdrawals from the account after you reach the age of 59 1/2. 

A Roth 401(k) offers many of the same advantages as a traditional 401(k), including paycheck deferral, employer match, and more, but it does so after taxes, meaning you'll still face taxes on any contributions.

You may develop your account tax-free and then remove any money tax-free when it's time to receive payouts. You may convert it to a Roth IRA in the future.

Because both forms of 401(k) plans are popular among employees, you should consider which is best for you. To avoid any unjustified bonus penalties levied by the IRS, it's vital to rigorously adhere to the plan's rules, particularly when it comes to withdrawals.

4. Tax-loss harvesting

It may be advantageous to use tax-loss harvesting to reduce or eliminate taxable capital gains.

If you employ tax-loss harvesting, the IRS allows you to deduct realized investment losses from your earnings. This way, you'll only owe tax on your net capital gain. You can offset losses if, for example, you achieved a $10,000 profit on one investment but lost $8,000 on another.

You'll wind up with a $2,000 taxable profit and a far reduced tax bill.

You can even deduct more than you make, up to a total loss of $3,000 each tax year, according to the IRS. You'll have to carry your net losses over to the next year if they're bigger. For instance, if you make a $100,000 profit on one investment and a $125,000 loss on another, your net loss will be $25,000.

However, you may only claim $3,000 in losses on your current tax return; the remaining $22,000 must be claimed in subsequent tax years.

Some investors make it a habit to do so to lower their taxable gains. They may elect to repurchase the investment after 30 days if they leave it for a longer length of time to avoid a wash sale.

Read this next: 18 Tips to Make the Most Out of Your Finances With a Frugal Mindset

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


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