Market Overview

Investment Taxation- Long-Term Tax Rates Set to Explode


Starting in 2013, federal and state taxes hikes are set to hit many of the nations hardest working families and retirees. If you have a company or appreciated asset that you are planning to sell, you may want to do it before the end of the year. Beginning in 2013, the cost and taxes on selling any tangible asset or your business may go up by a whopping 60 percent.

The established tax rates on long-term gains and qualified dividends will expire on December 31, 2012. Starting 2013, the federal tax rate on long-term gains will go up to 20 percent (or up to 10 percent if a taxpayer is in the fifteen percent tax bracket). In addition to this tax hike, the state income tax is added to the 20 percent. Thus, if you live in New York for instance, your federal and state combined tax to sell an asset for a profit would be about 28 percent if you add the 8 percent New York state income tax. But wait, there is more. Beginning in 2013, you will also be hit with another new tax on long-term capital gains and dividends where you get whacked with an additional 3.8 percent "Medicare contribution tax.

Also starting in 2013, the distinction between ordinary and qualified dividends will disappear, and all dividends will be subject to the ordinary tax rates. Thus, the maximum rate on dividends is scheduled to increase from 15 percent to max out at 39.6 percent as the Bush Taxpayer Relief Act provisions expire. Thus, taxes on fixed income dividend assets will go over 100 percent. I would only assume that these new taxes may hurt the share price and demand for dividend yielding stocks.

To sum it up, if you have worked for 30 years in New York to build a company and you sell your small business for $500 thousand dollars, your federal taxes will go up on that retirement sale from about 15 percent to a whopping 23.8 percent in federal taxes plus state tax. And yes, you then would owe on top of that another 7 or 8 percent to the state of New York to bring you up to well over $150,000 dollars or 30 percent percent of your retirement being gobbled up by the state and federal governments.

To make a comparison, there may be some folks in a (state with no income tax) such as: Texas or Florida right now who have recently established residency. By the end of the 2012 year, they can sell their stock or company in a long-term capital gain transaction with the tax rate at a flat rate of 15 percent or only $75,000 dollars. This is 100% less than what the New Yorker or Californian might pay in 2013. "Viva el la Estado de Texas y la Florida" .....

From a philosophical standpoint, the less federal tax on capital gains, the more money that goes into a local economy where the seller resides. In the end, high capital gains rates tend to freeze up assets, constrict the sale of property, and the middle class generally end up waiting till they die to sell a company so as to avoid the capital gains taxes.

Overall, if a taxpaying citizen does not receive a reasonable majority of the proceeds from the sale of a business or property, they will not sell or spend or circulate the money in local communities. Further, if people don't sell things, taxes are not generated.

This whole capital gains tax debate brings me back to a vivid but real experience. I remember as a teenager reading the list of the Forbes 400 richest people in the world. The list in the 70's was primarily people who inherited money, businesses, assets, or trusts. This list made me believe that being rich may be just luck and inheriting a 2nd or 3rd generational business. However, after the tax rates were lowered in the 80's, the list changed quickly over the next few years to be comprised mostly of hard working folks who were "self-made". Thus, my personal belief in the possibility for all Americans to become prosperous changed. The moral of the story is that lower tax rates helps create new wealth and new abundance. In sum, the incentives for hard work are directly correlated to the potential rewards, and everyone benefits from creativity and inventions in the form of cures, technology, and even tax receipts. And of course, higher taxes reduces global investing into new American ventures that may grow the economy.

For instance, even if you read the self-help book, Super Rich, by the famous music mogul Russell Simmons, you will see that even Mr. Simmons claimed to have used the favorable capital-gains rates to sprinkle around the vast proceeds from the sale of one of his businesses and share some of his good fortune with his workers who loyally invested their energy into his company over the years. I personally commend Mr. Simmons for rewarding his people for their contributions.

In the end, we must continue to think of ways to incentivize the hardest working and provide reasonable benefits for those who contribute with great creativity and effort.

Some Ideas for our Readers to Avoid Undue Tax:

1. Subchapter S Corporations may be more useful going forward to mitigate self-employment taxes or other taxes. However, dividend rates are going up if nothing is done by the administration.
2. The Purchase of ETFs, Funds or Stocks that do not produce interest or dividends may be a better investment for long term growth. iShares S&P 500 Growth Index Fund (NYSE: IVW) and WisdomTree LargeCap Growth Fund (NYSE: ROI) Read more here.
3. Use of Tax Deferred Variable or Fixed Annuities or Self Directed 401Ks or IRAs may also become even more popular.
4. Read my previous article on Estate Tax Adjustments in 2013 and learn to prepare for those tax hikes and changes.
5. Consider donating appreciated assets to charity rather than cash to avoid undue taxes.

Dr. George Mentz is a world recognized wealth management commentator and professor who has authored several revolutionary books. Prof. Mentz, an international attorney, has been a keynote speaker globally in Asia, Arabia, USA, Mexico, Switzerland, and in the West Indies. Mentz can be contacted for speaking engagements here or here.

*No tax investment or legal advice provided herein. Please consult with a licensed professional in your jurisdiction before making any important financial or legal decision.

Posted-In: Financial Advisors Economics Markets Media Trading Ideas


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