With the failure of the so-called “Super Committee” to come up with tax and budget proposals, it appears that 2012 will have the same tax laws as 2011. Therefore, income deferral still makes sense, in many situations. There’s no need to act this year in order to lock in a low tax rate.
For example, the maximum tax rate on long-term capital gains is 15 percent. There have been some proposals to raise that rate to 20 percent, at least for high-income taxpayers. Apparently, that won’t happen in 2012.
Therefore, there is no need to take taxable gains in 2011 unless you must have the money now, or you feel that waiting will lead to a decline in the selling price. Wait a few weeks, until the calendar turns into 2012. If you take taxable gains in January, you won’t owe tax on those gains for 2011–and you’ll know the maximum tax rate on those gains in 2012 will still be 15 percent.