MONEY Ask the Expert

Do I Pay Taxes When I Profit from a Stock Sale?

Your gains are taxable, either as ordinary income or capital gains, depending on how long you've held the stock. Photo: shutterstock

Q: Say I buy $100 worth of stock. If the price jumps to $125 and I sell $100 worth, do I pay taxes? — David, Middletown, Conn.

A: Yes, your gain is taxable, says CPA Michael Goodman of Wealthstream Advisors in New York City.

Assuming the shares are in a taxable account, your tax bill will be based on the profit you made on each share you sell.

Say, for example, that you purchased 10 shares at $10 each for $100. If the stock price rises to $12.50, and you then sell $100 worth of your stock, you’re actually selling eight shares that you originally bought for a total of $80. Thus, you’ll owe taxes on a $20 gain.

If you’ve held those shares for one year or less, that gain will be taxed as ordinary income. Shares held for longer are subject to lower capital gains rates, typically 15%.

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