(Capital) Loss Can Be Your Gain: Leverage Your Stock Loss into Tax Deductions!

Nobody wants to lose out on an investment, but did you know that stock loss – also known as capital loss – can actually be leveraged into savings on future investments through tax deductions? While it may sound strange, converting stock loss into savings is actually a widely used strategy for many seasoned investors.

Once you understand how tax laws apply to your capital losses, you will quickly see the benefits of reporting them. You will be able to form strategies that actually take advantage of stock losses ahead of time. Once an investment starts to head south, you’ll be able to make the right decisions to mitigate that loss.

Stock Loss Deductions

There are two types of reportable stock loss deductions:

  • Short term losses
    • stocks held for less than one year
  • Long term losses
    • Stocks held for one year or longer

While short and long term losses mirror capital gains in how they are categorized, the two function very differently. With capital gains, taxes are assessed based on how long you held on to a particular stock before selling. Short term gains are taxed at regular levels while long term gains are taxed at a much lower rate.

Advantages of Stock Loss Deductions

There are many ways you can benefit from reporting stock loss deductions on your tax return. You can use loss deductions to off-set taxes owed on gains. You can even carry over loss deductions into future years. If you have no capital gains taxes to report, losses can be used to deduct from your regular income.
While you’re not going to recoup the total amount of a loss, consider deductions as a sort of consolation prize. Eating a stock loss is never fun, but at least deductions make it a little bit easier of a pill to swallow.

Reporting Deductions

As with all deductions, there are limits to reporting stock loss. The IRS requires investors to follow specific rules when it comes to reporting your losses. These apply differently depending on what type of loss you are reporting…
Remember when we said there were two types of capital losses? Well there are actually two more. While short and long term losses define the loss itself in terms of how long it was held, losses are actually divided into two additional categories:

  • Realized losses
    • When an investment is sold at a price lower than the initial purchase
  • Unrealized losses
    • When an investment is held even after its value has fallen under that of initial purchase

Both types of losses must be reported on your tax return, but only realized losses can be applied as a deductions.

Deduction Limits

There are limits to what, how often, and when you can apply loss deductions towards. Most investors use stock loss deductions to offset taxes on short term gains. Since you are taxed on short term gains at a higher rate than long term gains, it makes sense to apply everything available to minimizing tax owed on those gains.
Stock loss deductions can also be used to offset your regular income taxes. While The IRS limits this to $3000 in income tax deductions for a given tax year, if you have reported losses for that year greater than that amount, they can be used to offset income tax each year until the amount expires.

Questions About Stock Loss Deductions?

This just provides a basic overview of stock losses, their tax advantages and limits. There are more limits that apply depending on the type of investment, the manner in which it is sold, and to whom the investment is sold.
If you have more questions about reporting stock losses as potential deductions, it’s best to speak with a financial adviser, accountant or tax attorney. A tax attorney specializing in stock investment-loss recovery can be a great resource available to you.

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