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Ask Money

Investment taxes

Chris Farrell Oct 26, 2009

Question: Hi Chris, I have listening to Market place Money for the past several years and love to hear your views on the economy and your Q&A. Last year I bought some Municipal Bonds (MICHIGAN ST BLDG AUTH REV BDS CUSIP 594614W54) when the financial world was coming to an end (:((). I just did this as an experiment. (The post tax yield equivalent on these bonds were attractive at that time) If I were to sell these bonds after a year of holding them – what are the tax implications? Thank you and look forward to hearing your views in these historic times. Guru, Farmington Hills, MI

Answer: With the scenario you’ve laid out you would come under the capital gain and capital loss rules. You say you’ve owned the bonds for more than a year. Let’s assume for illustration purposes that you paid $10,000 and you can sell the bonds for $10,400. You would have a capital gain of $400 with a maximum rate of 15%. (A long-term capital gain requires that the security be held for more than 12 months; the maximum rate on short-term capital gains is 35%.)

However, if you sold the bonds and could only get $9,800 for them you would have a capital loss of $200 that can be used to offset, first, a long-term capital gain and, second, if there is any loss left over any short-term capital gains.

Of course, there are a few other wrinkles, such as adjusting for selling costs and whether the bonds were sold at a discount. But that’s the basic idea.

Thanks for listening.

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