Capital Gains Taxes
税务和会计04 一月, 2023

Historical capital gains rates

According to the IRS, a capital gain (or capital loss) is the difference between the amount for which you sell the capital asset and your basis, which is usually what you paid for it. A capital gain occurs if the capital asset is sold for more than the basis, while a capital loss occurs if the capital asset is sold for less than the basis.

Capital assets consist of almost everything you own and use for personal purposes, pleasure, business or investment, including:

  • Home/House
  • Household furnishings
  • Stocks or bonds
  • Coin or stamp collections
  • Gems and jewelry
  • Gold, silver or any other metal
  • Business property 

The IRS goes into more detail about capital gains and capital assets in this fact sheet.

Capital gains tax rates

Capital gain tax rates - like income tax - range according to the seller's income. Historically, capital gains have been taxed at a different rate than ordinary income. This difference is due to the perception that at least a portion of the gain represents an inflationary component. Namely, the asset's value has grown over the years the asset has been held, rather than a true increase in value.

Capital gains have generally tended to be taxed at the same or a lower rate than ordinary income. The chart below shows the maximum individual and corporate capital gains tax rates from 1913.

The maximum capital gains tax rate for individuals and corporations

Year Individual capital
gains tax rate
Corporate capital
gains tax rate

1913–1921

same as regular rate

same as regular rate

1922–1933

12.5%

12.5%

1934–1935

17.7%*

13.75%

1936–1937

22.5%*

15.0%

1938–1941

15.0%

same as regular rate

1942–1951

25.0%

25.0%

1952–1953

26.0%

26.0%

1954

25.0%

26.0%

1955–1967

25.0%

25.0%

1968

26.9%

25.0%

1969

27.5%

25.0%

1970

30.2%

25.0%

1971

32.5%

25.0%

1972–1974

35.0%

25.0%

1975–1977

35.0%

30.0%

1978

33.8%

30.0%

1979

35.0%

30.0%

1980–1981 (June 9)

28.0%

28.0%

1981 (after June 9 )–1986

20.0%

28.0%

1987–1992

28.0%

34.0%

1993–1997 (May 6)

28.0%

35.0%

1997 (after May 6)–2003
(
May 5)

20.0%

35.0%

2003 (after May 5)–2012

15.0%

35.0%

2013–2017

20.0%

35.0%

2018-2023

20.0%

21.0%

*Assumes 10-year holding period, 30% of gain recognized (sliding scale for exclusion based on holding period).

Please note: Tax law is complex. While an accurate representation of capital gains rate history, this chart may not reflect various factors (such as excess profit taxes, phase-ins, rates on special categories of gain and AMT) that could have affected capital gains taxes throughout the years.

 

Source: Wolters Kluwer CCH® AnswerConnect, 2023
Permission for use granted.

Mark Luscombe
Principal Federal Tax Analyst
Mark Luscombe, a CPA and attorney, is the principal federal tax analyst for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. He is the current chair of the Important Developments Subcommittee of the Partnership Committee of the American Bar Association Tax Section and speaks on a wide range of tax topics. He authors monthly columns in Accounting Today and TAXES magazine. Prior to joining Wolters Kluwer, he was in private practice with several Chicago-area law firms where he specialized in taxation.
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