Capital Gains Tax: Short-Term & Long-Term Effects

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Capital gains is a term used for any profits which come from the sale of a capital asset. As such, you also need to pay taxes on capital gains. The U.S. Government applies taxes based on different kinds of income and at different rates. There are some types of capital gains, for example, profits made from the sale of a stock that you have held for an extended period of time, which are taxed using a more favorable tax rate than a salary or interest income. But, it is important to remember that not all capital gains are treated as equals. The tax rate for capital gains can vary, with short-term and long-term effects. 

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For most investors, understanding the difference between the capital gains tax rates is an important step. The main difference between the two is whether or not the asset you sold was held for longer or shorter than a year. This is because long-term capital gains will qualify for a lower tax rate than short-term capital gains, which are typically taxed using the same rate as an ordinary salary. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the differences between the short-term and long-term effects of capital gains tax.

Long-Term Capital Gains vs Short-Term Capital Gains: An Insight

When you decide to sell a capital asset for more than the original price at which you purchased it, then the result you get for this is known as capital gain. Capital assets can be tangible items, such as precious metals, real estate, or jewelry or they could be things such as stocks and shares. The tax that you pay on the capital gains is largely dependent on how long you had the asset before selling it. 

Whenever you sell an asset, it is important to consider capital gains tax, particularly if you are day trading online. Any profits that you make are taxable, but you may have heard that capital gains are taxed more favorably than other sources of income tax. This, however, is only sometimes the case as it does depend on how long you had the asset before selling. 

Long-term capital gains are acquired from assets that have been held for longer than a year before being sold. These are then taxed at 0%, 15%, or 20%, but the rate for most taxpayers sits at around 15% or lower. Short-term capital gains, on the other hand, are taxed just like ordinary income. This means depending on your tax bracket, this can go up to 37%. 

What’s The Difference Between Short-Term and Long-Term Capital Gain or Loss?

Generally speaking, capital gains and losses are handled depending on how long you’ve held the particular asset. This is also known as the holding period. Profits that are made from selling assets that have been held for a year or less are called short-term gains, whereas gains made from assets that have been held for a year or less are referred to as long-term capital gains.

There are more specific rules and different tax rates are applied to both short-term and long-term capital gains. You will be paying less in taxes on long-term capital gains than you would on short-term capital gains, but in the same way, capital losses are typically categorized as short-term or long-term using the same criteria. 

Selling And Maintaining Capital Assets

Businesses that hold capital assets can dispose of them through selling, trading, abandoning, or losing them through foreclosures. In some cases, condemnation can also count as a disposition. In the majority of cases, if the business has owned the asset for longer than a year, then it incurs a capital gain or loss from the sale. There are some instances where the IRS will treat the gain just like a regular income. 

Capital assets also have the potential to be damaged or become obsolete over time. If an asset is impaired, then the fair value of it decreases and this then leads to an adjustment of book value on the balance sheet. Losses can also be recognized on the business income statement and if the carrying amount exceeds a recoverable rate, then something called an impairment expense will be recognized during the period. 

What Is The Difference Between Individuals and Capital Assets?

A significant asset which is owned by an individual is called a capital asset. If an individual is to sell their asset, whether it be stock, art, or property, then earns money on the sale, then they realize a capital gain. The IRS does require individuals to report on capital gains from which capital gains are levied. 

Even an individual’s home can be considered as a capital asset. However, the IRS will give couples a joint tax exclusion of up to $500,000, or for individuals who file as a single person, this amount is up to $250,000. Individuals cannot claim a loss if they sell their primary residence. Should an individual sell a capital asset and lose money, then they can claim the loss against their gains, but it’s important to note that their losses cannot exceed their gains. 

Remember, capital assets or gains are not to be confused with the term capital, as this is another word for finance or money, whereas capital gains or assets are representative of a collection of certain assets, with money not being one of them. 

How Can Capital Losses Affect Taxes?

As we’ve explored, different types of tax rates are applied to both short-term and long-term gains. If your investments end up losing you money as opposed to generating financial gain, then these losses can affect your taxes. In this case, you may then use such losses to reduce your taxes. The IRS will allow you to match your gains and losses for any given year in an attempt to determine your net capital gains or losses. 

  • If you find that, after reducing your gains with your losses, you end up with a net loss then you can use up to $3,000 of the amount per year to reduce your other tax-eligible income. 
  • Any further losses can be carried forward for future years to offset capital gains and up to $3,000 for each year of ordinary income.
  • As you don’t generate capital losses or gains with a retirement account, you’re not able to use losses in IRAs or 401(k) plans as a way of offsetting gains or for your other income. 

What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages Of Long-Term Capital Gains?


  • Long-term capital gains are beneficial for people with a high adjusted gross income.
  • You can defer taxes until you secure the sale of your asset. 


  • Long-term capital gains don’t allow you to take advantage of any short-term big gains that may arise. 
  • You are still eligible for state capital gains taxes.

What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages Of Short-Term Capital Gains?


  • Any profitable day or swing trade decisions can outweigh the higher tax cost.
  • Short-term capital gains can be tax-deferred using the right retirement plan or account. 


  • Short-term capital gains have the same rate as federal income taxes.
  • They can also increase your tax liability at both the federal and state level. 


As with most things, it would be great if stock market returns were free from tax, but unfortunately, that’s not the way things work. You do need to pay tax on your profits, and this includes capital gains tax. In most cases, it’s best to have long-term capital gains as they are taxed using a lower rate, but while short-term capital gains can take away from your tax return, they have a place should the gains become worth it. 

As with any form of tax, it’s important to ensure you are filing it correctly to avoid fines or penalties and make sure you are using the right allowances if applicable. If you are using trading and investing as a way of building your assets and portfolio, then be wary of scams and fraud – there are dedicated fraud recovery solicitors on hand to help recover any losses. 

Sponsored/partnership post disclaimer: The opinions and information shared in these posts are provided by the partners and do not signify endorsement or guarantee by the post.

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