Maine Capital Gains Tax Explained (2024)

If you have cashed out capital gains in Maine, you know you’ll lose something to taxes. But how much? It’s important to understand your capital taxes and how they will impact your financial future, not least because that knowledge will empower you to take action to reduce your tax bill today.

In this article, we’ll explain what capital gains are, how they are taxed in Maine.

We’ll also show you different tax planning strategies that can significantly reduce your state capital gains tax:

  • Sell appreciated assets in a tax-exempt trust through Charitable Remainder Trusts
  • Buy renewable energy projects that make you eligible for significant government tax incentives that lower your capital gains tax bill.
  • Reduce your taxable income with charitable deduction tax strategies such as Charitable Lead Annuity Trusts and Conservation Easements.

So let’s dive in!

What Are Capital Gains?

Capital gains are a capital asset’s increase in value from the value at which it was purchased. Capital assets can include stocks, real estate, or even an item purchased for personal use like a car or a boat – in short, any significant property that could gain or lose value over time.

Capital gains can be realized or unrealized. “Realized” in this context means “acquired” or “received,” so realized capital gains are gains that you have captured by selling the asset. Unrealized gains, by contrast, represent a change in the value of an investment that you have not yet sold. For instance, if you hold stock that increases in value, but you haven’t sold it yet, that is considered an unrealized capital gain. Critically for our purposes, in most cases you will not pay taxes until you cash out or “realize” the gains.

What Are The Types Of Capital Gains?

There are two types of realized capital gains for taxation purposes:

  • Short-term capital gains: These are gains from selling assets that you’ve held for one year or less. At the federal level, short-term capital gains are typically taxed at the same (high) rate as ordinary income.
  • Long-term capital gains: These are gains from selling assets that you’ve held for more than one year. Generally, at the federal level, long-term capital gains receive more favorable tax treatment than short-term gains.

How Are Capital Gains Taxed?

Capital gains are not taxed until they are realized, meaning that even if your Apple stock has increased 50x from the day you invested, you won’t owe any capital gains taxes until you sell the stock. Of course, once you do sell the stock, you will face federal and state capital gains taxes.

Realized capital gains are typically subject to both federal and state taxes. The tax rate you will pay on capital gains will vary depending on where you live, your income, and the type of asset you sold but the federal and state tax systems are generally progressive, so individuals with higher incomes face a higher capital gains tax rate. Let’s look at how federal and state governments tax capital gains.

Need some help to understand the most convenient tax planning structure to reduce your capital gains taxes? Our team of tax-planning experts can help!

What Is The Federal Capital Gains Tax (2024)?

Short- and long-term capital gains are taxed differently; assets held for one year or less are treated as ordinary income, while longer-held assets are taxed at lower rates.

The short-term capital gains schedule matches the schedule for ordinary income, and your marginal and effective rates depend on your income and marital status, as shown below:

Taxable income (Single Filers)Taxable income
(Married Filing Jointly)
Tax Rate on This
Capital Gain
$0 to $11,000$0 to $22,00010%
$11,000 to $44,725$22,000 to $89,45012%
$44,725 to $95,375$89,450 to $190,75022%
$95,375 to $182,100$190,750 to $364,20024%
$182,100 to $231,250$364,200 to $462,50032%
$231,250 to $578,125$462,500 to $693,75035%
$578,125 or more$693,750 or more37%

Long-term capital gains, meanwhile, are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income. Here, too, the precise rate depends on the individual’s income and marital status:

Taxable income (Single Filers)Taxable income
(Married Filing Jointly)
Tax Rate on This
Capital Gain
$0 to $40,400$0 to $80,8000%
$40,400 to $445,850$80,800 to $501,60015%
$445,850 or more$501,600 or more20%

In addition, some categories of capital assets fall entirely outside of this rubric: gains on collectibles such as art, jewelry, antiques, and stamp collections are taxed up to a maximum 28% rate.

What Is The Maine Capital Gains Tax?

Unlike the federal government, Maine makes no distinction between short-term and long-term capital gains – or even between capital gains and ordinary income. Instead, it taxes all capital gains as ordinary income, using the same rates and brackets as the regular state income tax:

Taxable Income (Single Filers)Taxable Income (Married Filing Jointly)Tax Rate on This Income
$0 to $24,500$0 to $49,0505.80%
$24,500 to $58,050$49,050 to $116,1006.75%
$58,050 or more $116,100 or more 7.15%

Case Study

Let’s consider Jenna, a Maine investor who purchased 7,000 shares of Apple stock in April 2019 at $50 per share. She decides to sell her shares in January 2024 at a price of $100 each. Jenna held the stock for more than one year, so her realized income is considered long-term capital gain.

Jenna realized a capital gain of $350,000. (She paid for 7,000 shares at $50 each, for a total of $350,000, and then sold them for $100 each, for a total of $700,000. That’s a net gain of $350,000).

Federal taxes

To simplify this example, let’s assume further that she doesn’t earn any other income. (If she did, it would be more complicated to figure out which bracket she falls into.) Given her $350,000 of gains, she would fall into the income group between $40,400 and $445,800, resulting in a long-term federal capital gains tax rate of 15%. As a result of the progressive tax system, however, not every dollar will be taxed at that rate. The amount below $40,400 won’t be taxed, so she would therefore pay $46,440 in federal capital gains taxes on this transaction (15% of every dollar over $40,400).

State taxes

Jenna would also pay Maine taxes on her capital gains. Given her $350,000 realized income, she falls into the 7.15% tax bracket. Like the federal government, Maine uses a progressive tax system, which means that different portions of the individual’s income are taxed at the different rates corresponding to the brackets they fall into.

Here’s how it breaks down for Jenna:

  • The first $24,500 of income is taxed at 5.80% ($1,421)
  • The next portion of income from $24,500 to $58,050 is taxed at 6.75% ($2,265)
  • Finally, the remaining income from $58,050 to $350,000 is taxed at 7.15% ($20,874)

Adding these amounts together, Jenna would pay a total of $24,560 in Maine state income taxes for 2024.

Short-term gains

A quick counterfactual: If Jenna had sold her stock after holding for less than a year, her earnings would have been considered short-term capital gains, and she would have been subject to ordinary income taxes at both the federal and Maine levels.

What Is Tax Planning?

Capital gain taxes are a common burden that can significantly reduce your net earnings from the sale of an asset. Accordingly, it’s critical to identify strategies that can reduce these taxes.

Tax planning is a strategic approach designed to reduce a person’s or a company’s capital gains tax liability by leveraging various tax benefits and allowances. It’s about understanding the tax implications of your financial decisions so you can minimize your taxes and, ultimately, keep more of your hard-earned money.

This might involve making investments that offer tax benefits, choosing the right type of retirement account, taking advantage of generally available deductions and credits, or creating a tax-advantaged trust or other vehicle.

4 Tax Planning Ideas To Reduce Maine Capital Gains Taxes

There are many tax planning strategies that can help you reduce your federal and Maine capital gains tax liability. Here are a few ideas:

  • Sell appreciated assets in a tax-exempt trust: You can minimize your taxable capital gains by moving appreciated assets into a tax-exempt trust – a Charitable Remainder Trust, for example – before you sell. By setting up a CRUT trust, people can receive a charitable income tax deduction of approximately 10% of the current value of the appreciated asset and also save money in taxes when they sell it, allowing them to reinvest those savings and create more wealth for themselves. As an example, if you have your assets in a lifetime CRUT, it’s common to be able to take home 100% or more compared to not using one and selling your assets in a regular taxable account, even after making a large donation to charity. Learn more about Charitable Remainder Trusts here or set up a call with us here.
  • Buying renewable energy projects: Investing in renewable energy projects can make you eligible for significant government tax incentives – credits and depreciation – to lower your capital gains taxes. Taking into account tax savings and income from the solar business, this strategy can make a 5.85x return on investment compared to choosing to pay your taxes directly instead. Learn more about renewable energy credits here or set up a call with us here to learn more.
  • Maximize retirement contributions: Both federal and Maine state tax laws allow deductions for contributions to certain retirement accounts like a 401(k) or an IRA. Maxing out these contributions can lower your taxes, including ordinary income and capital gains taxes.
  • Other charitable deductions:
    • Charitable Lead Annuity Trust: If you are charitably inclined, a Charitable Lead Annuity Trust (CLAT) might be an option to increase your charitable deductions this year and minimize your tax liability. As an example, if you have your money in a CLAT, you’ll be able to take home up to or more than 28% compared to not using one and paying your taxes upfront and reinvesting the remainder in a regular taxable account, even after making a large donation to charity.
    • Conservation Easements: There’s also a not so openly discussed strategy: investing in conservation easements. When you agree to restrict the use of your land to the conservation cause, the government considers that a charitable donation, and you’ll get certain associated deductions. Your tax savings can often be around 2.5X your purchase price (assuming a 50% tax rate). You can learn more about conservation easements here or set up a call with us here to learn more.

Conclusion

Capital gain taxes can significantly reduce the wealth your family keeps every year. Fortunately, there are several strategies available to minimize these taxes. Read more here and check out our Guided Planner tool, where we’ll point you toward the strategies that might apply to you.

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As a tax expert with a demonstrated understanding of the topic, I'll dive into the key concepts discussed in the article about capital gains taxes in Maine and the associated tax planning strategies.

Capital Gains and Taxation:

1. Definition of Capital Gains:

  • Capital gains refer to the increase in the value of a capital asset from its purchase value.
  • Capital assets include stocks, real estate, and significant personal items.

2. Realized vs. Unrealized Gains:

  • Realized gains are acquired by selling the asset, while unrealized gains are changes in value not yet sold.
  • Taxes are typically paid when gains are realized.

3. Types of Capital Gains:

  • Short-term gains (held for one year or less) are taxed as ordinary income.
  • Long-term gains (held for more than one year) have more favorable tax treatment at the federal level.

Federal Capital Gains Tax (2024):

1. Tax Rates for Short-Term Capital Gains:

  • Tax rates vary based on income and marital status, ranging from 10% to 37%.

2. Tax Rates for Long-Term Capital Gains:

  • Long-term gains are taxed at 0%, 15%, or 20%, depending on income and marital status.

Maine Capital Gains Tax:

1. No Distinction between Short and Long-Term Gains:

  • Maine taxes all capital gains as ordinary income, without differentiating between short and long-term gains.

2. Tax Rates for Maine Capital Gains:

  • Rates are progressive, ranging from 5.80% to 7.15%, based on income.

Case Study - Jenna's Capital Gains:

1. Federal Tax Calculation:

  • Jenna's long-term federal capital gains tax rate is 15% on income between $40,400 and $445,850.

2. Maine Tax Calculation:

  • Maine uses a progressive tax system, resulting in varying rates on different income portions.

Tax Planning Strategies:

1. Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRT):

  • Moving appreciated assets into a CRT can minimize taxable gains, providing a charitable income tax deduction.

2. Renewable Energy Projects:

  • Investing in renewable energy projects can lead to significant government tax incentives, lowering capital gains taxes.

3. Maximize Retirement Contributions:

  • Contributing to retirement accounts like a 401(k) or IRA can reduce both ordinary income and capital gains taxes.

4. Other Charitable Deductions:

  • Charitable Lead Annuity Trusts (CLAT) and Conservation Easements are strategies to increase charitable deductions and reduce tax liability.

Tax Planning Overview:

1. Definition of Tax Planning:

  • Tax planning aims to reduce capital gains tax liability through strategic approaches, leveraging tax benefits and allowances.

2. Importance of Tax Planning:

  • Critical to identify strategies that minimize taxes and retain more earnings from asset sales.

3. Guiding Principles:

  • Making tax-beneficial investments, maximizing retirement contributions, and utilizing available deductions contribute to effective tax planning.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, understanding capital gains, tax rates, and implementing effective tax planning strategies are crucial for minimizing tax liability. The article provides insights into federal and Maine-specific taxation, along with practical examples and strategies to empower individuals in managing their financial future efficiently.

Maine Capital Gains Tax Explained (2024)

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