Is Buying Gold Taxable? An Expert's Guide

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) classifies gold and other precious metals as “collectibles”, which are taxed at a long-term capital gain rate of 28%. Gains on most other assets held for more than one year are subject to long-term capital gain rates of 15% or 20%. The IRS considers gold to be a collectible item similar to art or antiques and is likewise taxable. Yes, you usually need to report gold transactions to the IRS. However, tax liabilities for the sale of precious metals such as gold and silver do not expire at the time they are sold.

Instead, physical gold or silver sales must be reported on Schedule D of Form 1040 on your next tax return. When you sell gold, silver and other precious metals, you may be wondering if you need to pay sales tax. Because gold, silver and platinum are considered capital assets, capital gains taxes could be applied to your items. There are several ways to own gold bars directly. You can buy gold bars and store them yourself or store them in a facility.

Bullion coins, such as Krugerrands or American Eagles, are also an option. The IRS classifies precious metals, including gold, as collectibles, such as art and antiques. This applies to coins and gold bars, although their value depends solely on the metal content and not on rarity or artistic merit. You pay taxes on selling gold only if you make a profit.

However, a long-term gain on collectibles is subject to a tax rate of 28 percent, rather than the 15 percent rate that applies to most investments. The typical approach to investing in gold futures contracts is by purchasing ETFs or ETNs of gold futures. She earns more than 3.2 percentage points of annual after-tax return by using a traditional IRA instead of a brokerage account for her investment in gold mutual funds and more than 4.2 percentage points of annual after-tax return for her investment in gold coins. The restriction aimed to reduce gold hoarding, which according to the gold monetary standard was believed to be stifling economic growth, and lasted more than 40 years before rising in 1975. Alternatively, a physical CEF of gold is a direct investment in gold, but it has the benefit of taxes at the rates of LTCG. Then tell the administrator what gold you want your Roth account to have in your name, who to buy it from and at what price.

Whether through a brokerage account or through a traditional Roth or IRA account, individuals can also invest in gold indirectly through a variety of funds, stocks of gold mining corporations, and other vehicles, including exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and exchange-traded bonds. Profit margins on gold bars are usually lower than on country-specific gold currencies, but both are collectable for tax purposes. When buying gold, taxpayers should carefully compare annual costs, including annual maintenance charges, storage charges, buying costs, and selling costs, before selecting the investment. You can trade gold futures yourself or own an ETF you trade, such as PowerShares DB Gold Fund (DGL). This means that when a gold ETF sells part of the gold it owns, you have a short- or long-term gain or loss. While secondary investments in gold, such as gold mining stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, or ETNs may result in lower pre-tax returns; after-tax returns may be more attractive.

Gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs) offer an alternative to buying gold bars and are traded like stocks. Gold exchange-traded bonds (ETNs) are debt securities in which the rate of return is linked to an underlying gold index. This means that you reinvest the money from your gold sale by buying more gold and if you meet the IRS requirements all these transactions will not be taxed.

Alan Crippen
Alan Crippen

Hipster-friendly baconaholic. Infuriatingly humble food fan. Passionate organizer. Typical tv guru. Infuriatingly humble web maven. Coffee evangelist.