Capital Gains Stocks: Should You Take Capital Gains Right Now?

| December 3, 2010 | 0 Comments

The holiday season is always a bitter-sweet time of year for me.  The sweet part is getting to celebrate the holidays with my two wonderful daughters here in Arizona.  The bitter part is I’m usually unable to share the holidays with my parents and extended family.

You see my parents, my 92-year old grandmother, and several close aunts, uncles, and cousins all live in Michigan.  Since I moved to Arizona 17 years ago, I don’t often get to share this special time of year with them.

Like I said… bitter-sweet.

This year, however, I decided to try and recapture some of the holiday magic of my youth.  So, I bought a plane ticket and made the 2,000 plus mile trip to Michigan for Thanksgiving.

And as I knew it would be, the trip was good for my soul.

What’s more, my grandmother… bless her heart… made one of my favorite desserts… her famous carrot cake.  That alone made fighting the airport crowds worthwhile.

However, the trip was not all fun and games…

Whenever I get together with my dad, we always spend some time talking about the market.  My dad’s extremely bright and has a tremendous amount of valuable investment experience.

So, I have to tell you I was shocked when he asked me for advice…

He was wondering if he should bother with his annual year-end tax planning meeting.  With Congress still undecided about extending the Bush-era tax rates, he didn’t think the meeting was necessary.

Now I’m not a tax professional, but I follow the area closely… especially when it relates to investments.  This is what I told him…

It’s more important to meet with your advisors this year than in years past.  Given all the uncertainty, investors need to know what tax code changes to expect and how those changes could impact their investments.  Only informed investors will be able to take action quickly when the new rules are set.

And, most importantly, the next few weeks could be your last chance to take advantage of today’s low tax rates.

You see, Congress is going to resolve the raucous debate over extending the Bush tax rates once and for all in December.  If they decide not to extend them, the top-rate on long-term capital gains will jump by 33% in 2011.  (That’s double the projected increase in rates on ordinary income.)

So, what’s an investor to do in the face of so much uncertainty?

Here’s the key…

Investors should be ready to act quickly before year’s end if the Bush tax rates aren’t extended.

If tax rates go up for 2011, it may make sense to delay taking losses until January.  That way the losses can be used to offset gains that will be subject to the higher rate.  In other words, the losses are more valuable when tax rates are higher.

And if Congress does get its act together and extend the Bush tax cuts…

You might consider taking losses this year to offset your gains.  Remember, the time value of money makes taking a tax deduction as early as possible the most valuable option.

If you’re thinking of cancelling your year-end tax planning meeting… don’t.  Your advisors should help get you ready to make quick decisions once Congress acts.  A few minutes now could save you big bucks come tax time.

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Category: Stocks

About the Author ()

Robert Morris is the editor of Penny Stock All-Stars, an investment advisory focused on discovering small-cap and micro-cap stocks that are destined to become the market’s next Blue Chips. The Wall Street veteran and small-cap stock specialist is also a regular contributor to Penny Stock Research. Every week, Robert shares his thoughts with our readers on a variety of penny stock-related topics. In addition to Penny Stock Research, Robert also writes frequently for two other free financial e-letters, ETF Trading Research and the Dynamic Wealth Report. He’s also the editor of two highly successful and popular investment advisories, Biotech SuperTrader and China Stock Insider.

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