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Capital Gain, Capital Gains Taxes
Definition, Meaning Explained, Usage, and Example Calculations

When an asset is sold for more (or less) than the purchase prices, the result is a capital gain (or loss) for the owner. In most countries, capital gains are taxed as income.

A capital gain is a profit from selling an asset (e.g., stocks, bonds, or real estate, or even intangible assets such as goodwill), for more than the purchase price. A capital loss is a loss that results when selling an asset for less than the purchase price.

Capital gains are taxed (a capital gains tax) as income in most countries (e.g., the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada) but not all countries (for example, not in Singapore). Country tax codes differ greatly regarding exemptions for capital gains taxes, the impact of asset ownership time on tax liabilities, and other factors.

In cases where capital gains taxes are applicable, a capital loss can result in a tax savings when used to offset other positive income or capital games.

On the Income statement, capital gains taxes are entered along with the capital gains or losses that bring them. In the income statement example below, for instance, capital gains taxes (income tax on gain) are taxes on a gain from an "Extraordinary item," sale of land, during the reporting period.

For a more detailed example of the same statement, see Income statement. For more on the several meanings of capital in business, finance, and economics, see Capital.

Capital gains and their tax consequences appear near the bottom of the Income Statement under "Extraordinary Items" for companies whose primary business is something other than buying and selling such assets.

For more specifics on tax consequences of capital gains or losses, consult your country's tax authorities.

The following table is included only to show that capital gains tax requirements are sometimes complex and that they differ greatly between countries.

Capital Gains Tax By Country

 Australia

Capital gains tax in Australia is payable upon realized capital gains, but liability is subject to many exemptions and special adjustments depending on length of time the asset was held, the year in which acquired, and the kind of asset. Gains from the sale of family homes, especially are subject to exemptions. For complete details consult the Australian Taxation Office at //www.ato.gov.au/

  Canada

For individuals, Canada generally taxes capital gains at 50% of an individual's income tax rate. Capital gains for corporations, however, are taxed at the company's full tax rate. For complete details consult Revenue Canada at www.cra-arc.gc.ca

  Denmark Denmark imposes capital gains taxes on gains from share dividends, interest income from bank deposits and bonds, and a few other kinds of gains, although the tax rate varies greatly depending on the amount of gain, and whether the gain is realized by an individual or by a corporation. For complete details consult the Danish Ministry of Finance at //www.fm.dk/
  France

France imposes capital gains taxes on individuals for gains on the sale of financial instruments such as stock shares or bonds, at a 30.1%, rate. There are special conditions, however (for example, holding funds in a PEA account),which reduces the tax rate. Capital gains tax on sale of a principal residence are generally not taxed, depending on length of ownership. For complete details on capital gains taxes for individuals and corporations, consult French tax authorities at //www.impots.gouv.fr/portal/dgi/home?pageId=home&sfid=00

  Germany

Germany imposes capital gains taxes on profits from selling financial instruments, such as stock shares or bonds, only if they were bought after 2008. Taxation on other capital gains depends on the length of time held. Profits from real estate sales are generally not taxed, if the property has been held for ten years or more. For complete details, consult the German Federal Ministry of Finance at //www.bundesfinanzministerium.de

  India

Capital gains on the sale of equities are tax exempt if shares are sold through recognized stock exchange and ST Tax is paid on the sale, and if the equities were held for a year or more. Gains from shorter term ownership may be taxable. Tax requirements for sale of other capital investments, such as real estate, or bank deposits, may be taxed depending again on the period of ownership. For complete details, consult the Indian Department of Revenue at //www.incometaxindia.gov.in/

  Ireland

In the Republic of Ireland there is a 25% tax on capital gains, but there are some exclusions and deductions (for example, if the gain is from sale of agricultural land, or of a primary residence, or for transfers between spouses). The tax rate on certain kinds of investments, however, ranges from 23% to 40%. For complete details consult Irish Tax and Customers Revenue at //www.revenue.ie/en/index.html  .

  Israel

Israel imposes a flat 20% tax rate on capital gains.

  Italy

Italy imposes a capital gain tax of 27.5% on corporations and a capital gains tax of 12.55% on individuals, with certain exemptions and conditions. For complete details consult the Italian Ministry of Finance at //www.finanze.it/export/finanze/index.htm

  Malaysia

Malaysia currently does not impose a capital gains tax for sale of equities, but it does require a 5% tax on profits from real estate sales if the property was held for less than 5 years. For complete details consult the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia at //www.hasil.gov.my/index.php?lgv=2&chg=1 .

 Netherlands

With certain exceptions, there is no capital gains tax in the Netherlands. For complete details consult the Netherlands Ministry of Finance.

  New
  Zealand

New Zealand generally does not have a capital gains tax, per se, except that a few class of gains such as those from sale of shares may be taxed as ordinary income. For complete details consult New Zealand Inland Revenue at //www.ird.govt.nz/.

  Norway

In Norway, individuals are taxed at a 28% rate for capital gains, although there are exemptions (e.g., from sale of a principal home). Companies are taxed for profits from sale of shares, but they may be taxed for interest income, including sale of bonds. For complete details consult the Norwegian Ministry of Finance at //www.skatteetaten.no/.

  Singapore

Singapore does not generally impose a capital gains tax. For more details consult the inland Revenue Authority of Singapore at //www.iras.gov.sg/irashome/default.aspx .

  Sweden

Sweden imposes a 30% tax on capital income. For complete details consult the Swedish Tax Agnecy at //www.skatteverket.se/.

  Switzerland

Swiss residents pay no capital gains tax, except in some cases for a capital gains tax on property sales, depending on how long the property was held, and also depending on which canton the sale occurs in. Corporations pay the same tax on capital gains as they pay on ordinary income. For complete details consult the Swiss Federal Department of Finance at //www.efd.admin.ch/.

  United
  Kingdom

Individuals and corporations in the UK are liable for capital gains taxes, under a complex rate system, which takes into account such factors as the nature of asset or property sold (e.g., stock shares or private residence), the taxpayers basic tax rate, year of asset acquisition, and many other factors. For complete coverage consult the UK Department of inland Revenue at //www.hmrc.gov.uk/. Search for capital gain.

  United
  States

In the United States, individuals and corporations are generally taxed for capital gains at the same rate as for ordinary income, except that individuals may receive a reduced rate if the property was held for more than one year. For complete details, consult the US Internal Revenue Service at www.irs.gov, and especially IRS publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses, at  //www.irs.gov/publications/p550/index.html

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