Q: I’m selling stock to buy a home in two years. Should I spread out the sale to cut taxes? — Angie, Berkeley
A: Go ahead and sell.
Yes, you could possibly save on taxes by waiting: If you’ve owned the shares for a year or less, your profits, treated as ordinary income, would be taxed at 28% — the bracket you report you’re in.
Gains on shares held for over a year, however, would be taxed at 15%, says Stephen Horan, managing director of the CFA Institute.
Were gains to push your adjusted gross income up a bracket, past $250,000 ($200,000 for singles), you’d be subject to an extra 3.8% tax on some of the profit — a levy you might avoid by selling the shares over two years.
Delay, though, risks a price drop.
“Trying to save a few dollars in taxes might cost you way more in investment losses,” says David Walters, a financial planner with Palisades Hudson in Portland, Ore.
Cash you need so soon should not be in the stock market.