Those Gold Sales May Be Taxable

March 23, 2012

If you took advantage of the escalating gold and silver prices and made any sales of gold, silver, gems, jewelry, or the like during 2011, you are required to report the sales on your tax return. Whether or not the sales are subject to tax, and at what tax rate, depends upon the type of item sold and your tax basis for the item.

Determining Basis—Generally, your tax basis is what you originally paid for the item, assuming that you can recall the amount. It may be difficult to remember how much you paid for an item; however, if the cost was significant, you hopefully have documentation that can verify the price. Without documentation, you are at the mercy of the IRS should you be audited! Even more complicated is determining the value of an item acquired as a gift. Your tax basis for a gift generally is the same basis as it was for the item in the hands of the individual who gave you the gift. Meanwhile, the basis for an item acquired by inheritance is generally the fair market value of the item on the date of the inheritance. As you can see, simply determining the basis for the items that you sold can be complicated.

Types of Items Sold—Not all items are taxed the same. The percentage depends on whether the item was held for personal use or for investment purposes and whether or not the item is classified as a collectible. A higher maximum tax rate applies to collectibles than to other capital assets.

  • Jewelry—Generally, jewelry that is held for personal use is excluded from the definition of collectibles and is taxed the same as any other personal use property. Losses are thus not allowed, and gains are taxed as either short-term or long-term capital gains. For the most part, jewelry that an individual may choose to sell will have been owned for over a year, and the gain will be taxed at the long-term rate, which, for 2011, is a maximum of 15% (0% to the extent that the taxpayer is in the 15% regular tax bracket or lower). Beware, however, as some jewelry may include gold or silver coins that are considered collectible items and thus may be taxed at a higher rate, as explained below.

  • Collectibles—Gold and silver coins and bullion are included on the IRS’s list of collectibles. Unlike jewelry, the sale of “collectibles” can result in either a taxable loss or a taxable gain. In addition, collectible gains are taxed at a maximum rate of 28%, as opposed to a maximum of 15% for other capital assets that are held long-term. The maximum rate does not imply that all collectible gains are taxed at 28%. A taxpayer in a lesser tax bracket will be taxed at that lesser rate.

If you have questions related to selling jewelry and collectibles, please give the office a call.

Donna Bordeaux, CPA with Calculated Moves

Creativity and CPAs don’t generally go together.  Most people think of CPAs as nerdy accountants who can’t talk with people.  Well, it’s time to break that stereotype.  Lively, friendly, and knowledgeable can be a part of your relationship with your CPA as demonstrated by Donna and Chad Bordeaux.  They have over 50 years of combined experience as entrepreneurial CPAs.  They’ve owned businesses and helped business owners exceed their wildest dreams.   They have been able to help businesses earn many times more profit than the average business in the same industry and are passionate about helping industries that help families build great memories.