Early investment planning can save taxes

Capital gain rates will remain at a maximum of 15% (and a minimum of 0%) through December 31, 2012. The rates apply to qualified dividends and long-term gains from investments you sell. That makes 2011 a good time to implement strategies for potential tax savings.

One example: You may be able to manage your income to stay within the 10% or 15% income tax brackets, which would allow you to take advantage of the 0% capital gain rate.

Alternatively, you could gift appreciated stock to family members in those brackets. For 2011, the cutoff for the 15% bracket is $69,000 of taxable income when you’re married filing jointly ($34,500 for singles).

It might be time to “harvest” some of your investment gains in case tax rates rise again in the future. Also a tax-savvy way to completely eliminate your capital gains tax might be to donate appreciated stock to charity and receive a deduction equal to the security’s current market value. Special rules apply to noncash donations, so check with us before you move forward on this strategy.