How Are Gains on Gold Taxed?

How are gains on gold taxed

Gold is considered a collectible by the IRS and any profits from investing in precious metals are subject to a maximum 28% long-term capital gains rate taxation rate. Gains can be calculated by subtracting your initial purchase cost from its selling price.

Precious metals dealers must report their customers’ profits annually on a 1099 form. Losses from an investment in gold may offset any capital gains; subject to certain restrictions and rules.

Long-term gains

The IRS taxes profits made on gold investments sold for more than their original purchase price, known as capital gains. Investors can bypass paying these taxes using a 1031 exchange to reinvest proceeds of selling their gold into new assets of equal or greater value.

Physical gold and precious metal ETFs not held within an IRA are taxed as collectibles and incur a maximum tax rate of 28%; this figure exceeds the 15% long-term capital gains tax rate applicable to most investments and taxpayers.

However, if a physical gold investment is sold at less than its initial purchase price, no capital gain occurs and therefore it should be treated as a capital loss that can offset other capital gains over time, subject to certain restrictions and limitations. Investors should consult a CPA or tax specialist regarding how best to utilize capital losses to offset other earnings.

Short-term gains

Physical gold investments such as coins and bullion in the US are taxed at a maximum collector’s rate of 28%. Investors looking to minimize their tax bills can invest in mining stocks or ETFs that invest directly in physical gold, offering simple trading with reduced fees than physical gold investments.

Gold stocks or ETFs held for more than one year qualify for long-term capital gains treatment (LTCG) of 15%-20% depending on a taxpayer’s income level, which helps offset some of the higher costs of investing in physical metals such as dealer markups and storage fees.

Investors may save on taxes by investing in gold via an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). While initially banned by the IRS, most forms of physical gold such as coins and bullion can now be purchased within such accounts. It’s wise to review your own situation carefully prior to making any financial decisions and consult with a licensed professional before taking action on anything financial.

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

The Internal Revenue Service classifies precious metals like gold and silver as collectibles, so if you purchase and sell within one year of purchasing or holding for longer than 12 months then long-term capital gains tax rates from 0% up to 15% or 20% may apply depending on your income bracket.

However, when investing in ETFs that are physically backed by physical gold bullion (such as SPDR Gold Shares or iShares Gold Trust) your gains will be taxed at collector coin collector rates; ETFs that trade futures contracts however, are treated like stocks and subject to the lower 20% long-term capital gains tax rate. Furthermore, indirect investing may be advantageous as mutual funds and gold mining corporation stocks tend to be taxed similarly as traditional IRAs and thus avoid dealer markups and storage fees associated with owning physical metals and precious metals ownership.


Individuals investing in physical gold such as coins and bullion face an unexpectedly high tax rate of 28% when their profits come in, unlike stocks which are typically taxed at one of three long-term capital gains rates: 0%, 15% or 20%.

Apart from taxes, various costs and fees that reduce after-tax returns on gold investments include annual maintenance fees, storage charges, buying/selling costs as well as management fees. Because fees vary between investment types it is wise to compare all available options before making your decision.

Overall, a well-planned strategy can reduce the impact of capital gains taxes on gold investments. Depending on your type of investment and marginal tax rates, consulting a financial advisor before investing can provide maximum after-tax returns. In particular, IRA accounts offer investors with increased after-tax returns.

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