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Tax Guide for New Investors

tax guide for new investors

When considering investing, you may first daydream of the potential rewards of the risky endeavor. But as a new investor, it can be overwhelming to navigate the world of taxes. However, understanding the basics of taxation can help you make informed decisions and avoid costly mistakes during tax time. In this brief tax guide for new investors, we will cover some of the essential things you need to know. 

Capital Gains vs. Ordinary Income 

When you invest, you have the potential to earn income through two methods: capital gains and ordinary income. Capital gains are the profits you make when you sell an asset for more than you paid for it. Ordinary income is income earned through wages, salaries, interest, dividends, and other sources. 

The tax rate for capital gains is generally lower than the tax rate for ordinary income. The tax rate you pay on capital gains depends on how long you hold the asset before selling it. If you hold it for more than a year, it’s considered a long-term capital gain. In this case, the tax rate will be lower than if you hold it for less than a year, otherwise known as a short-term capital gain. Short-term capital gains are taxed as ordinary income. In 2022, the tax rates for long-term capital gains are as follows: 

Filing Status  0%  15%  20% 
Single  Up to $41,675  $41,675 to $459,750  Over $459,750 
Head of Household  Up to $55,800  $55,800 to $488,500  Over $488,500 
Married Filing Jointly or

Qualified Widow(er) 

Up to $83,350  $83,350 to $517,200  Over $517,200 
Married Filing Separately  Up to $41,675  $41,675 to $258,600  Over $258,600 


Tax Implications of Different Types of Investments 

Different types of investments are taxed differently. For example, stocks are taxed on capital gains and dividends, while bonds are taxed on interest income. Real estate is also subject to specific tax rules, including depreciation deductions and the potential for tax-deferred exchanges. 

It’s important to understand the tax implications of your investments before you invest. For example, if you’re investing in a high-yield bond, you may be subject to higher taxes on the interest income than if you were investing in a low-yield bond. By understanding the tax implications, you can make informed decisions about where to invest your money. Consulting with a financial advisor before making these financial moves can help you make the most informed decision now and prepare for any tax bill later. 

Investment Expenses 

Investment expenses can be deducted from your taxes, which reduces your taxable income. These expenses can include brokerage fees, investment advisory fees, and other costs related to your investments. It’s important to keep track of these expenses throughout the year, so you can deduct them on your tax return. Be sure to have proper documentation just in case the IRS requests substantiation later. 

Selling Investments 

Knowing when to sell your investments can have a significant impact on your taxes. If you sell an asset for a loss, you can use that loss to offset capital gains from other investments. This is called tax-loss harvesting and can help reduce your tax bill. Tax-loss harvesting could also help reduce your ordinary income tax liability, even if you don’t have any capital gains to offset. To do this, you would sell a stock at a loss and then purchase a similar stock with the proceeds.  

Tax-Advantaged Accounts 

Tax-advantaged accounts are investment accounts that offer tax benefits. These accounts include 401(k)s, IRAs, and 529 college savings plans. Contributions to these accounts are tax-deductible, and the investment interest grows tax-free. When you withdraw the money during retirement or for qualified education expenses, you’ll pay taxes on the withdrawals, but typically at a lower tax rate than during your working years. Investing in tax-advantaged accounts can be an effective way to reduce your tax bill and grow your investments over time. 

In conclusion, understanding taxes is an essential part of investing. By knowing the tax implications of your investments, keeping track of your investment expenses, and taking advantage of tax-advantaged accounts, you can reduce your tax bill and maximize your investment returns. Remember to consult with a tax professional for personalized advice on your specific situation. 

Tax Help for New Investors 

Remember, the most important thing you can do during tax time is ensure that you are reporting all income, whether it is ordinary income, interest earned on a bond, or dividends paid out to you that year. Failing to report income during tax time can put you on a fast path to being audited by the IRS. If you need help with a large tax liability because you were unprepared for the tax implications of investments, a knowledgeable and experienced tax professional can assist. Contact Optima Tax Relief at 800-536-0734 for a free consultation. 

Optima Newsletter – February 2023

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A Newlywed’s Guide to Taxes

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Life Transitions That Affect Your Taxes: Part II

life transitions that affect your taxes

For the most part, our tax situation remains consistent year after year. However, every now and then there are certain life transitions that can dramatically change how you file your taxes, even if just for that year. Here, we will continue to review some of the most common life transitions that can affect your taxes. 

Buying or Selling a Home 

There are several tax benefits to becoming a homeowner. For example, homeowners can deduct expenses like mortgage interest, real estate taxes, mortgage points, and insurance premiums. In addition to these deductions, new homeowners can also take advantage of penalty-free IRA withdrawals used to pay for the down payment on their home purchase.  

On the other hand, selling a home can mean turning profit, especially in a seller’s market. However, homeowners should stay mindful of capital gains taxes. Single filers who sell their home after owning and living in the house for at least two of the last five years before a sale can avoid paying taxes on the first $250,000 of profit from the sale. Married couples filing jointly in the same scenario can avoid paying taxes on the first $500,000 of the profit from the sale. Any excess profit will be subject to capital gains taxes, which can be a hefty and unplanned expense.  

Accepting an Inheritance 

If you ever receive an inheritance after the death of a loved one, you might wonder if any of it is taxable. In general, money inherited is not taxable. If you receive property, things are a little more complicated. You will receive the home at its fair market value determined on the date of inheritance. If you sell the property for more than the fair market value, you’ll be taxed on those gains only. If you inherit an IRA account, the rules of taxation vary depending on your relationship to the original account owner. Generally, you’ll likely be taxed on any distributions taken from the account. 


If you currently save for retirement, you might already know that you are eligible for certain tax breaks, like deducting contributions to your 401(k) or traditional IRA accounts. On the other hand, when it comes to taking distributions on these accounts, you will have to pay income tax on your withdrawals each year. You will not owe taxes on Roth IRA withdrawals since your contributions were made with after-tax dollars.  

Dealing With Taxes After Death 

Many taxpayers are unaware that after death, one final tax return will need to be filed in your name. If you’re married, your spouse will be able to file a joint return one last time. Your spouse, or other named representative, may even need to file an estate tax return, which summarizes the assets of the deceased.  

Tax Help for All Life Transitions 

You may not be at an age to begin worrying about how these life transitions could affect your taxes. However, being unprepared is what can lead to financial mishaps. So again, plan for the year ahead so you are not blindsided by a large tax bill in the future. If you find yourself financially crippled by a large tax liability because you were unprepared, a knowledgeable and experienced tax professional can help. Contact Optima Tax Relief at 800-536-0734 for a free consultation. 

Life Transitions That Affect Your Taxes: Part I

life transitions that affect your taxes

For the most part, our tax situation remains consistent year after year. However, every now and then there are certain life transitions that can dramatically change how you file your taxes, even if just for that year. Here are some of the most common life transitions that can affect your taxes. 

Getting Married 

While a wedding will bring many types of joy, newlyweds can also celebrate new tax breaks. Once you are married, you and your spouse will likely have the benefit of filing jointly, which can offer lower tax rates and a higher standard deduction. Married couples filing jointly also have extra tax perks to look forward to. For example, if you are not working, you cannot contribute to an IRA account if you are single, but you can if you are married and use your spouse’s income. You can also take advantage of flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and lower health care expenses. 

Having a Baby 

Having a baby, or growing your family in other ways, can significantly reduce your tax liability. Claiming dependents can grant access to new tax credits and deductions. The Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, Child and Dependent Care Credit, Adoption Credit, the Credit for Other Dependents, and higher education credits are just a few examples of credits available for those who can claim dependents. 

Education Expenses 

If you have recently decided to go back to school, or if you have a dependent who will be attending college soon, you might be able to take advantage of some education-related tax breaks. There are tax credits available to students to help offset qualifying expenses, including the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Leaning Credit. If you have already graduated and are now paying student loans, you can deduct up to $2,500 of your student loan interest during tax time.  

Moving Out of State 

Sometimes new opportunities come from out-of-state and moving states can affect your tax bill. Aside from moving expenses, you’ll need to figure out if you’ll be paying less or more taxes in your new state of residency. States like California and New York have much higher tax rates compared to others. Some states do not have any income tax. It’s important to factor this into your budget before you decide to make the big move.  

Accepting a Promotion at Work 

After properly celebrating a job well done, you might want to consider how your new role at work can affect your taxes. A bump in pay can also bump you up into a higher tax bracket, which means more taxes owed. For most, the tradeoff is worth it, but either way you should do the math to be prepared for tax season. To help offset any additional costs during tax time, you can also adjust your W-4 withholding.  

Tax Help for All Life Transitions 

Often times, you’ll find most of these life transitions that can affect your taxes offer greater benefits than things to worry about. The best thing you can do is prepare for the aftermath of each of these changes. Plan for the year ahead so you are not blindsided by a large tax bill next filing season. If you find yourself scrambling with a large tax liability because you were unprepared, a knowledgeable and experienced tax professional can help. Contact Optima Tax Relief at 800-536-0734 for a free consultation. 

How Unemployment Affects Your Taxes

how unemployment affects your taxes

If you spent time unemployed last year, you might be wondering how that’ll affect your tax return this year, especially if it was your first time ever being without work. When it comes to unemployment and taxes, you might have some questions. Here’s a breakdown of how unemployment affects your taxes. 

Is Unemployment Taxable? 

Perhaps the first question people ask about unemployment is: “Is my unemployment income taxable?” In short, it is taxable. The IRS requires you to report any unemployment income on your federal tax return with Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments. Most states tax unemployment income as well, except for the few that don’t tax any income and the few that exempt unemployment benefits from income taxes. You can check with your state’s Department of revenue to see if your income is taxed at the state level. 

How Do I Pay Unemployment Taxes? 

When applying for unemployment benefits, you can request your state to withhold federal taxes from your checks. In this case, 10% will be used to pay federal taxes. You can also make estimated quarterly tax payments throughout the year. If you go this route, be mindful of the deadlines for each quarter: April 15, June 15, September 15, and January 15 of the following year. Your final option is to just pay all taxes due during tax time. The same three options usually also apply to paying taxes at the state level. 

Does Unemployment Affect My Tax Credits? 

Receiving unemployment benefits might affect your eligibility for certain tax credits. For example, eligibility of the earned income tax credit (EITC) and the child tax credit (CTC) are determined by earned income. Since unemployment benefits are not considered earned income, it could reduce your credit amount or completely disqualify your eligibility. Since the EITC is worth up to $6,935 and the CTC is worth $2,000 per qualifying child in 2022, it is best to check with your tax preparer to see exactly how unemployment will affect your eligibility for tax credits you rely on each year.  

Are Other Government Benefits Taxable? 

Sometimes the unemployed seek other financial assistance from the government, including housing subsidies, childcare subsidies, and SNAP benefits. You might also accept food donations from food pantries. These benefits are generally not taxable, but you should check with your local benefits offices to confirm. 

What If I Can’t Pay My Taxes? 

Being unemployed might mean you’re low on funds and might need extra help if you run into issues during tax time. The IRS offers a free tax filing service on their website and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) provides free tax preparation for lower-income taxpayers. If your tax issues are bigger or more complex, it might be best to consider tax relief options. Our team of qualified and dedicated tax professionals can help if you have tax debt. If you need tax help, call Optima at 800-536-0734 for a free consultation.