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The Labyrinth of Capital Gains Tax Policy

A Guide for the Perplexed

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Document date: January 01, 1999
Released online: January 01, 1999
[ Brookings Institution] Few issues in tax policy are as divisive as the 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 they are earned, or when they are realized? Should taxes be adjusted for inflation? And should gains be taxed at both the individual and corporate levels? In this book, Leonard Burman cuts 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.

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