California’s magnificent beaches, mountains, deserts, and cities are what attract over 40 million citizens and millions of visitors each year.

California offers a variety of extra perks in addition to the breathtaking views, like excellent school systems, museums, highways, parks, and more, but those services come with a price tag. Californians, on the other hand, are among the most heavily taxed citizens in the country, paying taxes on everything from petrol to income to capital gains.

Understanding the many sorts of capital gains taxes, both nationally and in California, should be a top focus for anybody wishing to invest money and profit from it.

Before you invest, bear in mind that, with a few exceptions, capital gains are treated as income in California, regardless of how long the investment has been held. When it comes to real estate and retirement savings, this is especially true.

Capital Gains Taxes in the State of California

California taxes capital gains as a source of income, but unlike the IRS, it does not discriminate between long-term and short-term earnings.

The capital gains tax rate in California is now expected to vary significantly. Tax rates on capital gains can range from 1% to 13%, depending on the source of the earnings and the individual’s tax bracket.

Because navigating the tax chart of the Franchise Tax Board can be complex, hiring a tax professional to assist you in planning and preparing your tax papers is a sensible move. Working with a tax specialist will save you money in the long run, so it’s something you should think about.

What is Capital Gains Tax?

Capital gains is a tax imposed on the value of an investment when it is sold by an individual or a company. As a result, the profit obtained from the initial buy price to the selling price is the value taxed on the transaction, or “capital gains.”

Investments that increase in value over time without being sold are not taxed. These are known as “unrealized capital gains,” and they’re tax-free until they’re sold.

Short-term capital gains occur when an investment is kept for less than a year, but “long-term” capital gains occur when an investment is held for more than a year.

Capital gains are generated through a variety of financial instruments, including real estate purchases and sales, stock and bond purchases and sales, and crowdsourcing investment possibilities. Understanding the federal and state capital gains tax codes is critical when deciding on the right investment vehicle for you.

How Capital Gains Taxes Work

Regardless of whether an asset is held for less than a year or more than a year, capital gains tax is applied as income in California.

When an individual or corporation buys an investment with the intention of selling it later, capital gains are made. Any earnings generated when the asset is sold are classified as capital gains.

Short-term and long-term capital gains are the two forms of capital gains, with varying tax implications and benefits.

Short-term capital gains are described as assets acquired and sold in less than a year as opposed to those retained for longer periods of time, which are known as long-term capital gains or earnings gained over a longer period of time.

To clarify the contrasts, California’s short-term capital gains tax is greater than the state’s long-term capital gains tax, which encourages investors to retain their investments for longer periods of time.

Because the tax law encourages people to keep on investments for longer periods of time, it may help to explain why housing prices in California are so high.

The longer a person retains a real estate investment, the more taxes are delayed on the property’s gain, making real estate an appealing long-term investment, particularly as an income rental property.

It’s vital to understand that California’s capital gains tax rates are based on gross income, whereas federal rates are dependent on the individual’s tax bracket:

Tax Bracket/RateSingleMarried Filing JointlyHead Of Household
0%$0 – $40,400$0 – $80,800$0 – $54,100
15%$40,401 – $445,850$80,801 – $501,600$54,101 – $473,750

Are Capital Gains Taxed in California?

If you’re wondering if capital gains are taxed in California, the quick answer is yes.

This is because California has a higher tax rate on income and capital gains than most other states, and this is one of the ways the state earns a large portion of its annual revenue.

Capital gains are taxed as income in California, regardless of how long the asset was held. The federal capital gains tax, on the other hand, will treat capital gained from short-term and long-term investments differently.

This suggests that retaining an investment rather than buying and selling it, such as stocks or flipping houses, maybe a more financially prudent approach for the ordinary investor.

Rather than seeking a rapid source of income to benefit from numerous exclusions available, a more wise method is to acquire and hold, whether it’s an investment vehicle such as a stock or Real Estate.

How Much Is Capital Gains Tax In California?

The 2021 California capital gains tax rate is determined by the type of asset that generated lucrative gains that must be assessed, regardless of the year.

If you sell a short-term investment like a stock or a real estate “flip,” you may face a tax of up to 15% on the gains.

A long-term holding of real estate property, on the other hand, maybe taxed even more heavily, but the higher rate in California will be compensated by lower rates under the federal tax code.

This implies that, depending on the asset, the tax system favors long-term capital gains through various deductions, exclusions, and methods of calculating the tax rate, such as income for California or income tax brackets for federal taxes.

How The Capital Gains Tax Is Calculated In California

In general, you may use a simple calculation to compute your gross tax rate in California to calculate your capital gains tax.

Use this easy calculation to figure out your capital gains taxes:

California Capital Gains Tax on Real Estate

The fact that real estate owners who use the property as their principal residence benefit from a built-in exclusion are a unique feature of California tax law.

The owner must satisfy the following requirements: they may have only one primary residence, they must live on the property for two years out of every five, and the home must sell for less than $250,000.

Even with this provision, any property sold for more than $250,000 will be subject to a tax on every dollar beyond that amount.

According to the Franchise Tax Board of California, the California capital gains tax rate in 2021 allows for that exception if an owner meets the following criteria:




            House on Wheels


            Apartment in a cooperative

The Difference Between Short-term Vs. Long-term Capital Gains Tax

The key distinction between discussing short-term and long-term capital gains is the duration of time the individual held the asset before selling it.

The higher the tax burden, the shorter the investment is kept, resulting in short-term capital gains that must be reported as income in the year of sale.

While long-term capital gains are taxed at a higher rate, since the investment was held for a longer length of time, the earnings from any capital gains are eligible for a variety of deductions and exclusions.

To put it another way, unless you’re an expert at day trading or home flipping, the tax system encourages you to hold onto your investments for extended periods of time, resulting in various tax benefits.

The capital gains tax rate in California in 2020 is identical to that in 2021, with a few minor changes.

The biggest distinction in the tax law is between the federal and state tax codes, which favour higher income categories and require them to pay a greater percentage rate. The rates are still more bearable for the ordinary Californian with a family income of less than $180,000.

Finally, California taxes capital gains as a source of income at a greater rate than practically every other state in the country. In reality, capital gains account for little over 11% of the state’s overall revenue, allowing locals and visitors alike to benefit from a variety of public services paid for by those capital gains.

Furthermore, while capital gains are taxed as income in California, there are a few exceptions: when individuals sell their primary house for less than $250,000 profit, the exemption provided makes homeownership an appealing investment vehicle for Californians.