Understanding Capital Gains Taxes for 2020: A Comprehensive Guide

When you sell an asset that has appreciated in value, you may be subject to capital gains tax. This tax is levied on the profit you make from the sale, and the rate you pay depends on several factors, including the type of asset sold, the length of time you held it, and your taxable income. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of capital gains taxes for 2020, providing a comprehensive guide to help you navigate this aspect of your financial obligations.

What is Capital Gains Tax?

Capital gains tax is a levy imposed on the profit you make when you sell an asset that has increased in value. This tax is applicable to various types of assets, including stocks, bonds, real estate, and collectibles. The amount of tax you owe depends on the asset’s holding period and your taxable income.

Types of Capital Gains

Capital gains are classified into two types: short-term and long-term.

  • Short-term capital gains: These result from the sale of an asset held for one year or less. They are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate, which can range from 10% to 37%, depending on your income level.
  • Long-term capital gains: These arise from the sale of an asset held for more than one year. They are taxed at a lower rate than short-term capital gains, with rates ranging from 0% to 20%, depending on your taxable income.

Capital Gains Tax Rates for 2020

The capital gains tax rates for 2020 vary depending on your taxable income and the type of asset sold. The following table summarizes the rates:

Asset Type Holding Period Tax Rate
Ordinary assets One year or less Ordinary income tax rates (up to 37%)
Ordinary assets More than one year 0%, 15%, or 20%
Collectibles More than one year 28%
Section 1202 qualified small business stock More than five years 28%
Unrecaptured ยง 1250 Gain (real property) More than one year 25%

Calculating Your Capital Gains Tax

To calculate your capital gains tax, you need to determine your cost basis and your net capital gain.

  • Cost basis: This is the original purchase price of the asset plus any additional expenses incurred, such as commissions or fees.
  • Net capital gain: This is the difference between the sale price of the asset and your cost basis.

Once you have calculated your net capital gain, you can use the tax rates provided above to determine the amount of tax you owe.


Let’s say you sell a stock for $10,000 that you originally purchased for $5,000. Your net capital gain is $5,000. If you held the stock for more than one year, you would be subject to the long-term capital gains tax rate of 15% (assuming your taxable income falls within the 15% bracket). Your capital gains tax would be $750 (15% x $5,000).

Additional Considerations

  • Net investment income tax (NIIT): For high-income earners, an additional 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT) may apply to net investment income, including capital gains. This tax can increase the effective capital gains tax rate to as high as 23.8%.
  • Capital loss deduction: If you have capital losses, you can deduct them from your capital gains. However, the maximum amount of capital losses you can deduct each year is $3,000 ($1,500 if you are married filing separately). Any unused capital losses can be carried forward to future years.

Understanding capital gains taxes is crucial for making informed financial decisions. By familiarizing yourself with the different types of capital gains, the applicable tax rates, and the various factors that influence your tax liability, you can effectively manage your investments and minimize your tax burden.

Capital Gains Taxes Explained: Short-Term Capital Gains vs. Long-Term Capital Gains


Is capital gains tax 15% or 20%?

Capital gains tax rate
Single (taxable income)
Married filing jointly (taxable income)
Up to $47,025
Up to $94,050
$47,026 to $518,900
$94,051 to $583,750
Over $518,900
Over $583,750

What is the tax rate for net capital gains and qualified dividends in 2020?

Capital gains and qualified dividends. The maximum tax rate for long-term capital gains and qualified dividends is 20%. For tax year 2020, the 20% rate applies to amounts above $13,150. The 0% and 15% rates continue to apply to amounts below certain threshold amounts.

What were the tax rates in 2020?

Tax rate
Married filing jointly or qualifying widow
$9,876 to $40,125
$19,751 to $80,250
$40,126 to $85,525
$80,251 to $171,050
$85,526 to $163,300
$171,051 to $326,600
$163,301 to $207,350
$326,601 to $414,700

What are the capital gains tax rates for 2020?

Refer to IRS Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, for additional information. The table below indicates capital gains rates for 2020. Short-term capital gains. One year or less. Ordinary income tax rates, up to 37%. Long-term capital gains. More than one year. Taxpayers with income below the 15% rate threshold below, pay 0%.

How are capital gains taxed in 2021?

You will be taxed at your ordinary income tax rate on short-term capital gains. Since the 2021 tax brackets have changed compared with 2020, it’s possible the rate you’ll pay on short-term gains also changed. Long-term capital gainstaxes are assessed if you sell investments at a profit after owning them for more than a year.

How are capital gains taxed in 2024?

Short-term capital gains are taxed as ordinary income according to federal income tax brackets. These capital gains tax rates apply to assets sold for a profit in 2024. Capital gains are reported on Schedule D, which will be due with your federal tax return (Form 1040) by the April 2025 tax filing deadline, or by October 2025 with an extension.

When are capital gains taxable?

Capital gains are reported on Schedule D, which will be due with your federal tax return (Form 1040) by the April 2025 tax filing deadline, or by October 2025 with an extension. The table above provides an overview of the tax rates that apply to long-term gains based on taxable income.

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