How Does the IRS Tax Gold?

Investors must understand how their gold investments are taxed. While direct IRA investments in physical coins are prohibited, gains on indirect gold investments like stocks and ETFs backed by physical gold are taxed at the same rate as long-term capital gains.

Buyers who make customer sales to dealers exceeding certain quantities must report these sales to the IRS using Form 1099B forms, to help the agency prevent tax evasion schemes and tax avoidance schemes from taking place. These reporting requirements help detect instances of tax evasion as well as instances of tax evasion by customers and dealers alike.

Cost Basis

When selling securities, investors are required to keep accurate records of their cost basis in order to accurately calculate and report capital gains and losses. For more details on this topic, see IRS Publication 550; it would also be prudent to seek professional advice when computing and reporting gains or losses on gold investments.

Physical gold investments such as coins and bullion are considered collectibles by the IRS and subject to a maximum 28% rate when sold, far exceeding the 15% long-term capital gains (LTCG) tax rate that usually applies for most assets and taxpayers.

Investors looking for tax-efficient investments should consider opening an individual retirement account (IRA). Gains on gold sold within an IRA won’t be taxed until distributed, while losses on gold investments can be offset with other forms of investment income – improving after-tax returns significantly.

Capital Gains

Gold and other precious metals provide investors with alternative investments beyond stocks, but there are specific tax considerations they must keep in mind when considering such assets. Gains realized from selling such investments are subject to capital gains taxes calculated by subtracting your cost basis from their sales price; keeping accurate records can help establish this number accurately.

As part of your cost basis calculation, be sure to factor in any fees incurred during ownership, such as dealer markups and storage costs for physical coins; or management fees and trading costs for ETFs. Doing this can help maximize after-tax returns while mitigating unexpected tax liabilities.

Profits from physical gold sold or traded at a profit are taxed at long-term capital gains rates that tend to be lower than ordinary income rates, with any gains on coins gifted from inheritance taxing at the higher collectibles rate which may reduce after-tax returns significantly. It is therefore essential that you track your cost basis and consult a professional.


As physical gold is considered a collectible, the IRS does not impose capital gains tax upon its sale at a profit. However, precious metal dealers are required to report any sales involving large quantities of specific bullion pieces or when customers make cash payments of $10,000 or more; failing to meet reporting obligations could result in penalty fines and even imprisonment for both dealers and their clients.

Investors must always carefully consider all costs associated with any given investment, from dealer markups and storage fees for physical gold to annual management fees and trading costs for gold ETFs. Additional expenses such as these can significantly reduce after-tax returns on gold investments; it is therefore imperative that when considering different gold investment options you compare all total costs when making your decision. A savvy overall investment strategy can maximize after-tax returns while simultaneously minimizing taxes; for this reason it may be beneficial to make your gold investments through either a traditional or Roth IRA for maximum after tax return potential.

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