I got cap. gains, I got no pain...
Remember that song? It was Insane Clown Posse, right? No, wait, it was the marijuana guys, right? Ah, yes *Google Search*: Cypress Hill. Actually, I may have mis-remembered the lyrics a little bit but the substance of the mangled lyrics remain intact, the tax rates on Capital Gains are relatively insane. Relative to what? and Why? Let me explain...
Remember in 2012, all the people (Democrats) were incredulous about the wealth of Mitt Romney? They were shocked (shocked) that Mitt Romney paid a lower tax rate than someone in the middle class. There was much outrage and yet after he released his tax returns it was pretty clear why his tax rate was so low even though he made so much money: he owns a lot of assets that pay him Dividends and he sold bunch of assets that resulted in Capital Gains. Those 2 types of income made up most of his taxable income (poor guy didn't even deduct his "speaking fee" expenses...lotta good that did him) and they are treated differently than Ordinary Income.
The point here is that contained within our current tax code there is a character difference between different types of income. For example, the progressive Federal tax rates most people think about:
Taxable Income of $0-$9,224 = 10% tax rate*
Taxable Income of $9,225-$37,449 = 15% tax rate*
Taxable Income of $37,450-$90,749 = 25% tax rate*
Taxable Income of $90,750-$189,299 = 28% tax rate*
Taxable Income of $189,300-$411,499 = 33% tax rate*
Taxable Income of $411,500-$413,199 = 35% tax rate*
Taxable Income of over $413,200 = 39.6% tax rate*
*the taxable income thresholds in this example are for Unmarried people.
Those rates only apply to Ordinary Income and not to Capital Gains.
Capital Gains rates look like this:
Taxpayers (unmarried and married) in the 10-15% tax bracket pay 0% tax on Capital Gains.
Taxpayers in the 25%, 28%, 33% or 35% tax bracket pay only 15% tax on Capital Gains.
Taxpayers in the 39.6% tax bracket pay only 20% tax on Capital Gains.
Now, do you see why Capital Gains tax rates are relatively insane?
If Mitt Romney had simply said "Don't hate the player, hate the game" do you think he would have been able to mute some of the outrage over his relatively low tax rate?? I guess we'll never know.
Some other notes:
Unrecaptured Gain on Real Estate (sec. 1250 gain) pays 25% tax on gain.
Collectibles and qualified business stock gains result in 28% capital gains tax.
If you have any other questions on Capital Gains (line 13 of the Form 1040), please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org