How Are Gold ETFs Taxed?

How are gold ETFs taxed

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Investors should be mindful that gold ETFs may be taxed differently from other investments, depending on which type they own and might incur higher capital gains taxes when selling units.

Physical-backed ETFs

Physical ETFs are the traditional variety of ETFs and buy and hold assets or securities directly related to what they track, providing transparency and avoiding regulatory restrictions on trading. Unfortunately, this also opens the door for discrepancies between actual asset or security performance and what the ETF promises, potentially adding risk to an investment portfolio.

Funds that focus on precious metals such as gold are structured as physical-backed ETFs, and this year have attracted $8 billion of new capital due to fears of war, inflation and stock-market volatility. Yet investors don’t realize they face different tax obligations than other investments; gold ETFs are classified as collectibles under U.S. tax rules and any gains are subject to an annual capital gains rate of 28% rather than 15% for stocks; therefore it is wise for investors to consult a knowledgeable tax professional when understanding their holdings impact before investing.

Futures-based ETFs

An essential consideration when investing in ETFs is understanding their tax ramifications. This is especially relevant to ETFs backed by precious metals like gold and silver; when selling, the IRS treats such coins as collectibles and charges taxes at 28% when sold – something which may come as an unexpected shock for investors.

State Street’s Gold Shares and iShares Gold Trust, two major physical-backed gold ETFs, invest in physical gold bullion stored in vaults. When market volatility hits, investors seek out gold as an asset-safe haven investment. These ETFs typically experience their greatest inflows during these periods.

SPDR Gold ETF and iShares Silver ETF, for instance, invest in futures contracts to track the price of metal. Such futures-based ETFs tend to be more volatile than their physically backed counterparts and may be subject to factors like contango and backwardation that affect price changes.

Exchange-traded notes (ETNs)

ETNs track commodity prices such as gold. Like stocks, ETNs trade like commodities-based ETFs but take advantage of long-term capital gain treatment; unlike these investments though, ETNs do not issue K-1 forms when selling shares but instead use 1099 forms for tax filing purposes to avoid confusing investors.

ETFs backed by physical gold often see large inflows, yet their taxation can be complex. Since the IRS considers them collectibles, their capital gains tax rate can reach 28% or even higher.

Investors in ETFs should consult a tax professional to assess how to best manage their taxes. Achieve tax efficiency could mean offsetting gains from these investments with losses from elsewhere in their portfolio or using losses to offset any gains from equities or real estate investments; just remember to stay aware of all tax ramifications related to any investments, including ETFs!


Gold ETFs and other commodity-related ETFs have proliferated over recent years, further complicating tax planning. If you hold these funds outside a tax-advantaged account like an IRA, make sure you consider the taxes due when selling them.

Physical gold coins and bullion are subject to standard capital gains rates; however, ETFs that track the price of precious metal may have different tax treatments; for instance, an ETF that holds physical assets structured as a grantor trust could fall under special rules that tax any profits as collectibles rather than ordinary investment income.

ETFs that invest in futures contracts typically follow a 1099-style fund structure and are assessed according to traditional short and long-term capital gains rates. Before making decisions about investing in gold ETFs or other commodity ETFs, investors should consult a tax professional.

Raymond Banks Administrator
Raymond Banks is a published author in the commodity world. He has written extensively about gold and silver investments, and his work has been featured in some of the most respected financial journals in the industry. Raymond\\\'s expertise in the commodities market is highly sought-after, and he regularly delivers presentations on behalf of various investment firms. He is also a regular guest on financial news programmes, where he offers his expert insights into the latest commodity trends.

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