What Are the Capital Gains Tax Rates for 2022 vs. 2023?

The capital gains tax rate that applies to a capital gain depends on the type of asset, your taxable income, and how long you held the property sold.

calculator with a note on it that says "capital gains tax"
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The capital gains tax rate that applies to profits from the sale of stocks, mutual funds or other capital assets held for more than one year (i.e., for long-term capital gains) is either 0%, 15% or 20%. However, which one of those long-term capital gains rates applies to you depends on your taxable income. The higher your income, the higher the rate.

But what if you held the asset for one year or less (i.e., a short-term capital gain)? In that case, you're looking at a totally different set of tax rates applicable to the gain. Plus, the type of property sold can have an impact on the capital gains tax rate, too. And did you know that some people have to pay an extra surtax on top of the capital gains tax? It can all be very confusing.

So, don't run out and immediately spend all your earnings if you're lucky enough to score big on a hot stock tip. Instead, first take some time to figure out how much you ought to stash away for tax time (or for an estimated tax payment). As described in detail below, there are various factors that go into determining the capital gains tax rate that applies and whether the surtax is owed. Do yourself a favor and study up on the rules before making plans to spend any capital gains you reap.

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/xrd7fjmf8g1657008683.png

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of Kiplinger’s expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of Kiplinger’s expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

Long-Term Capital Gains Tax Rates

To encourage long-term investments, lower tax rates apply to capital gains from the sale of assets held for more than a year (again, either 0%, 15% or 20%). If your income is low enough, you may even qualify for the 0% rate. On the other hand, wealthier taxpayers will likely pay tax on long-term capital gains at the 20% rate – but that's still going to be less than the tax rate they would pay for other income like wages or on short-term capital gains.

So, where do you stand when it comes to the tax rate on long-term capital gains? It all comes down to your taxable income. Here are the long-term capital gains taxable income thresholds for the 2022 tax year:

2022 Long-Term Capital Gains Tax Rate Thresholds

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Capital Gains
Tax Rate
Taxable Income
(Single)
Taxable Income
(Married Filing Separate)
Taxable Income
(Head of Household)
Taxable Income
(Married Filing Jointly)
0%Up to $41,675Up to $41,675Up to $55,800Up to $83,350
15%$41,675 to $459,750$41,675 to $258,600$55,800 to $488,500$83,350 to $517,200
20%Over $459,750Over $258,600Over $488,500Over $517,200

[Get a free issue of The Kiplinger Tax Letter (opens in new tab), with timely tax advice and guidance to help  protect your hard-earned wealth as the tax laws change. No information is required from you to get your free copy.]

The income thresholds for the long-term capital gains tax rates are adjusted each year for inflation. The IRS has already released the 2023 thresholds, so you can start planning for 2023 capital asset sales now. Because of the high inflation we've seen lately, the 2022 to 2023 adjustments were larger than usual. However, that's actually a good thing for taxpayers – especially for people with a stagnate income or an income that grows slower than the rate of inflation. Without an adjustment to match the rise in inflation, more people would end up paying a higher rate in 2023 than they did for 2022.

For example, if you're single with a taxable income of $40,000 in 2022, you qualify for the 0% rate on long-term capital gains for that tax year. If your income grew by 5% ($2,000) in 2023, your 2023 tax income of $42,000 would bump you up to the 15% long-term capital gains tax rate if not for the inflation adjustment. However, since the 0% rate applies to people with a taxable income up to $44,625 in 2023, you would still qualify for that rate for the 2023 tax year.

To see how all the taxable income thresholds changed from 2022 to 2023, here are the figures for the 2023 tax year that you can compare with the 2022 amounts above:

2023 Long-Term Capital Gains Tax Rate Income Thresholds

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Capital Gains
Tax Rate
Taxable Income
(Single)
Taxable Income
(Married Filing Separate)
Taxable Income
(Head of Household)
Taxable Income
(Married Filing Jointly)
0%Up to $44,625Up to $44,625Up to $59,750Up to $89,250
15%$44,626 to $492,300$44,626 to $276,900$59,751 to $523,050$89,251 to $553,850
20%Over $492,300Over $276,900Over $523,050Over $553,850

Short-Term Capital Gains Tax Rates

The tax rate on short-term capitals gains (i.e., from the sale of assets held for one year or less) is the same as the rate you pay on wages and other "ordinary" income. Those rates currently range from 10% to 37%, depending on your taxable income. The income thresholds for each tax rate are also adjusted annually for inflation. For the ordinary tax rate that applies to you, see What Are the Income Tax Brackets for 2022 vs. 2023?

Generally, the rate you'll pay for long-term capital gains is less than the rate you'll pay for short-term gains. So, in most cases, you can save on taxes by holding capital assets like stocks, bonds, and real property for more than one year before selling.

Capital Gains Tax Rate for Collectibles

There are a few exceptions to the general capital gains tax rates. Perhaps the most common exception involves gains from the sale of collectibles that qualify as capital assets. For this special rule, a "collectible" can be a work of art, antique, stamp, coin, bottle of wine or other alcoholic beverage, gold or other precious metal, gem, historic object, or another similar item. If you sell an interest in a partnership, S corporation, or trust, any gain from that sale attributable to the unrealized appreciation in the value of collectibles is also treated as gain from the sale of collectibles.

Instead of a 20% maximum tax rate, long-term gains from the sale of collectibles can be hit with a capital gains tax as high as 28%. If your ordinary tax rate is lower than 28%, then that rate will apply. But if you're in a higher tax bracket (i.e., 32%, 35% or 37%), then the capital gains tax on your collectible gains is capped at 28%.

The 28% limit doesn't apply to short-term capital gains. So, if you don't own a collectible for at least one year before selling it, you'll still be taxed on any gain at your ordinary tax rate (between 10% and 37%).

Capital Gains Tax Rate for Qualified Small Business Stock

If you sell "qualified small business stock" (QSBS) that you held for at least five years, some or all of your gain may be tax-free. However, for any gain that is not exempt from tax, a maximum capital gains tax rate of 28% applies.

As with the 28% rate for collectibles, if your ordinary tax rate is below 28%, then that rate will apply to taxable QSBS gain. The 28% rate doesn't apply to short-term capital gains from the sale of QSBS, either.

Capital Gains Tax Rate for Previously Deducted Depreciation

If you sell real estate for which you previously claimed a depreciation deduction, you may have to pay a capital gains tax of up to 25% on any unrecaptured depreciation. The taxable amount is known as "unrecaptured Section 1250 gain" (named after the tax code section covering gain from the sale or other disposition of certain depreciable real property). The rest of your long-term gain is taxed at either the 0%, 15% or 20% rate. For most people, this only comes up if you sell rental property.

Once again, the 25% rate is a maximum rate. So, if your ordinary income tax rate is lower, you won't have to pay that much. Instead, your ordinary tax rate will apply. Also, the rate doesn't apply to short-term gains.

Surtax on Net Investment Income

There's an additional 3.8% surtax on net investment income (NII) that you might have to pay on top of the capital gains tax. (NII includes, among other things, taxable interest, dividends, gains, passive rents, annuities, and royalties.)

You must pay the surtax if you're a single or head-of-household taxpayer with modified adjusted gross income (AGI) over $200,000, a married couple filing a joint return with modified AGI over $250,000, or a married person filing a separate return with modified AGI over $125,000. Use Form 8960 (opens in new tab) to calculate the surtax.

Rocky Mengle
Senior Tax Editor, Kiplinger.com

Rocky is a Senior Tax Editor for Kiplinger with more than 20 years of experience covering federal and state tax developments. Before coming to Kiplinger, he worked for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting and Kleinrock Publishing, where he provided breaking news and guidance for CPAs, tax attorneys, and other tax professionals. He has also been quoted as an expert by USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Accounting Today, and other media outlets. Rocky has a law degree from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in History from Salisbury University.