Capital gains are good, for most people. This is what happens when a property or asset is sold at a higher value than when it was purchased, resulting in a profit for the previous owner. Among the most common types of property to have this would be real estate, but it can also apply to stocks and bonds. However, the issue of capital gains tax mars the process somewhat. These are taxes applied to the sale of such properties and gains, both short-term and long-term. Short-term gains are at the same rate as regular income taxes, while long-term transactions have a much lower rate. For many investors and buyers, the capital gains tax can represent a large amount of money lost from the transaction, so they seek ways to avoid it.
For those that are dealing with property in the transactions, among the most common ways is to use the Section 1031 exchange, if the properties qualify. This involves the exchange, rather than sale, of real estate properties used for the purposes of investment or business. The properties in question must be of like kind, but not necessarily of the same grade or quality. Both must also be used for purposes or functions that further the business or investment. If both properties involved meet the requirements of the regulation, then it is possible for the exchange to push through exempted from all capital gains tax.
Long-term investments are also suggested. The idea for this is to invest in a company for a long period before selling, to get the lowest rate of the capital gains tax. However, this is usually difficult to achieve because of a number of factors. The status of the company can change, drastically affecting the value of their shares. There are any number of valid reasons that may make someone sell earlier than expected, thus paying a higher capital gains tax.
Finally, the most drastic option is to use capital losses to offset the gains. This strategy requires that investments actually decrease in value, which allows one to also decrease the amount of tax paid on them. Ideally, all investments should be appreciating, but losses can occur and it is good to know that these can be used to offset other gains. However, it is still ill-advised to depend on this entirely, both because of the depreciating investments and the existence of a cap on the amount of losses that can be used to offset gains.