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Wealthy investors may be in for a capital gains tax hike. Here’s how they’ll manage

Key Points
  • President Joe Biden proposed raising the top rate on long-term capital gains to 39.6% from 20%. The tax hike would apply to households making more than $1 million.
  • These higher taxes would apply to taxable brokerage accounts, but not tax-deferred accounts, which include 401(k) plans.
  • Higher income investors may find ways to manage the taxes owed, including making deductible charitable donations and weighing tax-managed investment strategies to minimize capital gain distributions.
President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on April 28, 2021.
Chip Somodevilla | AFP | Getty Images

The future of President Joe Biden's proposal to raise capital gains taxes on the wealthiest households is uncertain, but accountants are weighing strategies to help mitigate the tax bite.

To help fund his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan – a new stimulus proposal that includes enhanced tax credits for families – Biden is calling for higher levies on capital gains and income for top earners.

He'd like to raise the top rate on income taxes to 39.6% from 37%.

Further, Biden is proposing a hike to the long-term capital gains rate to 39.6%. Currently, the top rate on those gains is 20%. The increase would apply to households making over $1 million.

Accountants don't anticipate a wave of panic selling out of taxable accounts, but they say it's a good time to think about tax strategies.

"People hear 'tax rate increase' and start doing things they otherwise wouldn't do," CPA and Pimco senior consultant of education Tim Steffen said.

"Rarely are investment decisions based on one factor alone," he said. "Be sensitive, but not driven by taxes."

Here are four tax mitigation strategies to consider in a time of higher rates.

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