Few issues in tax policy are as divisive as capital gains tax. Should capital gains - the increase in value of assets such as stocks or businesses - be taxed at all? If so, when should they be taxed, when are they earned, or when are they realized? Should taxes be adjusted for inflation? And should gains be taxed at both the individual and corporate levels? In this study, Leonard E. Burman seeks to cut through the political rhetoric to present the facts about capital gains. He begins by explaining the complex rules that govern the taxation of capital gains, examines the kinds of assets that produce them, and the factors that can lead to gains or losses. He then reviews the effects of capital gains taxation on saving and investment and considers the arguments for and against indexing capital gains taxes for inflation, as well as other options for altering the current system.
Leonard E. Burman is director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and a senior fellow at the Urban Institute. He is the coeditor with Henry Aaron and Eugene Steuerle of Taxing Capital Income (Urban Institute, 2007).