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Long-Term Capital Gain or Loss


A Long-Term Capital Gain or Loss refers to the profit or loss made from selling an asset, such as stocks or property, that was held for more than one year. It is significant because the rate at which long-term capital gains are taxed by the U.S. federal government is different and generally lower than short-term capital gains. A loss can offset income to reduce your taxable income.


Long-Term Capital Gain or Loss: /lɔːŋ tɜːrm ˈkæpɪtl geɪn ɔːr lɒs/

Key Takeaways

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  1. Long-Term Capital Gain or Loss: These refer to the profits or losses an individual or business incurs following the sale of an asset, such as stocks or property. The “long-term” distinction means the asset was held for more than one year before being sold.
  2. Tax Preference: Long-term capital gains typically have preferential tax rates compared to short-term gains. These rates remain lower than the standard income tax rates and are made to encourage long-term investment.
  3. Loss Offset: Long-term capital losses can be used to offset capital gains, reducing an investor’s tax obligations. If the losses exceed the gains, these can be carried over and deducted in future tax years.



The business/finance term Long-Term Capital Gain or Loss is important because it directly affects the taxes an investor pays on an asset that has been sold. A capital gain or loss is characterized as long-term when an asset, such as stocks, bonds, or real estate, is owned for more than a year before it’s sold. Long-term capital gains tax rates tend to be less than short-term rates, incentivizing investors to hold onto their assets for a longer time period, promoting long-term investments. Understanding this concept can help an investor strategically decide when to buy and sell assets in order to minimize the tax burden and improve their overall financial returns.


Long-Term Capital Gain or Loss refers to the profit or loss that investors realize when they sell an asset that they have held for over a year. The primary purpose of identifying a gain or loss as long term is to apply the appropriate tax rates as outlined by the tax authorities. In many jurisdictions, the tax rate applied to long-term capital gains is typically lower than the rate applied to short-term gains or ordinary income. This kind of tax treatment is designed to encourage long-term investment, which theoretically promotes economic stability and growth.Indeed, Long-Term Capital Gain or Loss serves as a significant tool for personal and business strategy. From a financial planning perspective, investors may aim to hold assets for at least a year to optimize the tax benefits associated with long-term capital gains. On the business side, this concept impacts decisions related to asset management and business operations. For instance, a company may decide to hold onto an asset for longer than a year before selling to take advantage of the lower long-term capital gains tax rates, thereby increasing net returns and improving overall profitability.


1. Real Estate Investment: An individual purchased a residential property in 2010 for $200,000. Over the years, the value of this property significantly increased due to various improvements and a flourishing property market. The individual then decided to sell this property in 2021 for $350,000. The profit of $150,000 realized from this sale is considered a long-term capital gain because the property was held for more than one year.2. Stock Market Investment: In 2015, an investor bought 100 shares of a company for $20 per share, amounting to a total investment of $2000. Over the next six years, the value of the company increased dramatically due to a variety of factors, causing the share price to rise to $60 per share by 2021. The investor decided to sell all shares at this price, making a total of $6000. The difference between the selling price and the original cost, which is $4000, is a long-term capital gain.3. Collectibles and Antiques: A collector bought an antique painting in 1990 for $500. Over the years, the value of the painting increased due to its rareness and demand. In 2021, the painting was sold for $5000 at an auction. The $4500 profit made from this sale is treated as a long-term capital gain, as the asset was held for more than a year.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Long-Term Capital Gain or Loss?

A Long-Term Capital Gain or Loss refers to the profit or loss that is realized after the sale of an investment or valuable asset that has been held for longer than a year.

How is a long-term capital gain or loss calculated?

It’s calculated by deducting the purchase price of an asset from its sale price. If the resulting figure is positive, it’s a long-term capital gain. If it’s negative, it’s a long-term capital loss.

How are Long-Term Capital Gains taxed?

In most countries, including the United States, long-term capital gains are taxed at lower rates than ordinary income to encourage long-term investment. The specific rate depends on the individual’s tax bracket.

What is the difference between short-term and long-term capital gains?

The primary difference lies in the holding period of the asset. If the asset is held for a year or less before it is sold, the gain or loss is considered short-term. If the holding period exceeds a year, it’s considered long-term.

Can I offset my income with long-term capital losses?

Yes, if you have a long-term capital loss, you can use it to offset long-term capital gains. If your losses exceed your gains, you might also be able to deduct the difference on your tax return, depending on your jurisdiction.

How do I report a long-term capital gain or loss?

You typically report long-term capital gains or losses on your income tax return. The process may require a separate form or schedule. It’s wise to consult a tax advisor or the tax authority in your country.

Are all types of assets eligible for long-term capital gain or loss?

Not all types of assets are perceived the same way. Most commonly, real estate, stocks, bonds, and collectibles are eligible. However, the specific regulations can vary by country.

Why are long-term capital gains taxed at a lower rate?

Long-term capital gains are taxed at a lower rate to motivate individuals to invest and hold assets for extended periods. This is seen as beneficial to the overall market economy and potentially the specific sectors where investments are made.

Related Finance Terms

  • Investment Portfolio
  • Asset Appreciation
  • Capital Gains Tax
  • Discounted Cash Flow
  • Selling or Disposing Securities

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