Capital gains aren't just for rich people
Anyone who sells a capital asset should know that capital gains tax may apply. And as the Internal Revenue Service points out, just about everything you own qualifies as a capital asset. That's the case whether you bought it as an investment, such as stocks or property, or for personal use, such as a car or a big-screen TV.
If you sell something for more than your "basis" in the item, then the difference is a capital gain, and you’ll need to report that gain on your taxes. Your basis is usually what you paid for the item. It includes not only the price of the item but any other costs you had to pay to acquire it, including:
- Sales taxes, excise taxes and other taxes and fees
- Shipping and handling costs
- Installation and setup charges
In addition, money spent on improvements that increase the value of the asset -- such as a new addition to a building -- can be added to your basis. Depreciation of an asset can reduce your basis.