So that's why Mrs. McCain didn't want
to talk about her taxes
Fuel taxes increase again

Have you called your stock broker yet?

It seems a like a lot of people have been tethered to their financial advisers and stock brokers as the market has slipped into negative territory.

With oil prices still climbing, the market's bearishness, and the willingness of investors to make reactionary moves, is likely to continue today, 

I keep a spreadsheet of our holdings and usually enter the end-of-month values for our investments. Over the years, I've found that's often a discouraging exercise, especially midyear, when many folks make regular portfolio adjustments, and at the end of the year, when investors employ tax-related investment strategies.

So rather than see how much of a paper loss we've taken with the recent stock market gyrations, I'll probably just blow off the June tally. The hubby and I are invested for the longer term, so what our net worth is on paper today is really of no concern. OK, of little concern, since only the uber-rich can ignore the numbers when their portfolios take a bit of a hit.

Dealing with the stock bear: But we're going, or at least try, to be patient. That's the advice of many financial gurus, who suggest that we all just chill while this market sorts itself out.

Kodiak_bear_head "This is the worst time to make a big change in what you're doing," said Mark Zandi of during an interview this morning on the CBS Early show.

Over on the Today Show, however, money "mad" man Jim Cramer had a different message: "You've got to sell right now and you've got to raise cash, maybe up to 20 percent of your portfolio should be cash."

Tax considerations of stock sales: While it might be tempting to dump stock right now, especially if your holdings' values have shrunk, you still might face tax consequences.

For tax purposes, your sale price is important only in how it relates to your purchase price.

Say, for example, you bought a stock for $20 a share, watched it climb over the years to $50 a share and now it's dropped to $30 a share. With it down so dramatically from its high, you might be tempted to sell.

But that $30 a share is still more than what you paid when you bought it, meaning if you sell, you'll still have a profit. If you had 100 shares, purchased for $2,000 a few years ago, selling them now will get you $3,000.

And that means $1,000 in capital gains taxes. The only good thing here is that most capital gains rates are substantially lower than the ordinary income tax rates.

Now before you shoot off an e-mail or leave a comment about my calculations, let me say that my example is for illustrative purposes only. And it's intentionally simplistic, counting per-share price only. There are other factors that could reduce your basis and thus lower your tax bill.

The key point, however, remains. Any investment sale could -- probably will -- have tax ramifications. 

But don't let taxes alone be your investing determinant. Run the numbers, talk with your financial planner and definitely make the right move for your overall investment plan.

No capital gains taxes for some: Some folks might find when they do the math that they can escape capital gains taxes completely.

For tax years 2008, 2009 and 2010, long-term capital gains taxes are eliminated -- that's right; zero, nada, nil, zilch -- for some low- and moderate-income individuals. The table below details what one tax expert called "the ultimate tax-rate reduction." 

Capital Gains Tax Rates: 2007-2011
Ordinary Income Tax Bracket
Long-term Capital Gains Tax Rate
2008, 2009
& 2010

Long-term Capital Gains Tax Rate
Long-term Capital Gains Tax Rate
10 Percent
5 Percent
0 Percent
10 Percent
15 Percent
5 Percent
0 Percent
10 Percent
25, 28 & 38  Percent
15 Percent
15 Percent
20 Percent

This zero-tax break will end Jan. 1, 2011, when all capital gains rates revert to pre-2003 levels, unless Congress extends the current law.

This story from Forbes, as well as this one I wrote for has more details on taking advantage of the no capital gains tax break.


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