Does Physical Gold Attract Wealth Tax?
Gold is a timeless investment option, as its counterparty risk-free nature makes it easy to store safely at home. But there are costs associated with physical gold investing such as dealer markups and storage fees which should not be ignored when considering your options.
Profits on the sale of gold coins or bars are subject to short term capital gains tax, while investing in Sovereign Gold Bonds (SGB) yielding interest contributes directly towards your income tax liability.
1. Tax on short-term capital gain
Gold is one of the world’s most reliable assets, serving as an insurance against inflation or falling currency values, being traded and valued worldwide, and serving as a medium of exchange between nations or individuals. Furthermore, it’s popularly invested in by governments, central banks and billionaires alike.
Physical gold in the US is taxed just like any other asset; taxes on its sale depend on any capital gains realized, which are subject to an ordinary long-term capital gains rate of 20%.
In India, returns on physical gold investments held for less than 36 months may incur short-term capital gain tax (STCG). Investors should keep in mind that owning and holding physical gold investments may incur additional expenses that reduce after-tax returns significantly – it is therefore wise to compare annual charges, storage fees and buying/selling costs between various gold investments before making a final decision.
2. Tax on long-term capital gain
Gold has become increasingly popular as an investment asset that can protect assets against inflation and geopolitical risks, but before making your decision it is essential to understand its tax ramifications.
Physical gold investments such as jewelry and bullion bars are subject to income tax when sold. Their sales proceeds will typically be added to your taxable income and taxed at your current rate; you may even qualify for capital gains indexation benefits if you hold them longer than three years.
Digital gold investments such as bullion-backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs) do not attract wealth tax when sold; however, long-term capital gain tax of 20% plus 4% cess is assessed upon them because they are considered collectibles and taxed at similar rates as art, stamps and antiques. Furthermore, investors in such products will need valid tax invoices as evidence of purchases.
3. Tax on income tax
Investment in physical gold such as jewellery and coins or virtual forms such as gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or sovereign gold bonds is subject to wealth tax; however, there are ways around it. Proceeds of such investments could be used towards buying a house or purchasing tax-saving bonds as alternatives.
Income tax on such returns depends on their length of holdings and can be divided into short-term capital gains and long-term capital gains categories. Returns from gold held for less than three years are considered short-term capital gains and must be added to an individual’s income at slab rates before being subject to income tax at 20% plus indexation benefits.
Gold can bring peace of mind through tangible assets that do not expose the owner to counterparty risk or default, something other paper currencies and stocks cannot offer.
4. Tax on dividends
For physical gold (coins, bars and ornaments) held for less than one year and sold at a profit, the IRS will tax your sale at ordinary income rates. A more tax-efficient way of investing in gold would be investing through bullion-backed ETFs or mutual funds that do not store physical metal directly.
The IRS taxes any profits from selling dedicated investment assets like gold at your marginal income tax rate up to 28% – similar to how collectibles like art, stamps and antiques are taxed; however it exceeds the average 15% capital gains tax rate. You may be able to avoid this tax altogether by investing your profits within 45 days in another precious metals asset or real estate – though this only defers rather than eliminates it; you must still file an annual tax return and settle any tax obligations from this transaction.
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