READY, SET, HIKE: The top tax rate on long-term capital gains rises from 15 percent to 20 percent on Jan. 1 unless Congress acts. High-income earners face an additional new 3.8 percent Medicare tax on investment income.
DON'T PANIC: Consider accelerating a sale of a stock, property or business with substantial capital gains that you already were planning. Otherwise, do the math on the overall tax implications rather than rushing to sell by year's end just to lock in the lowest capital gains rate.
NOT THAT BAD: Rates were substantially higher in recent decades, including 39.9 percent in the 1970s.