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Adjusting Costs For Inflation When Computing Cap Gain Taxes?

Posted by taxguru on July 31, 2019

One of the many extremely unfair aspects of the tax system in this country that I have long railed against is the fact that, when assets that have been owned for several years are sold, the taxable gain is based on the original cost, with no adjustment for the fact that the dollars being recovered are worth much less today than what was paid out those many years ago.  Current year tax rates are literally assessed on inflation.

Over the past three decades, there have been some feeble attempts to remedy this injustice by allowing people to adjust their cost bases by the changes in the cost of living.  I have written and spoken about this in great detail since 1992, when it seemed to have some momentum, only to fizzle out under the wimpy gutless leadership of both Bush presidents.

Some historical references on this issue:

My article from the 1990s on this topic has been on my main website ever since then: Indexing Gains For Inflation

The Wall Street Journal article addressed to Pres. George H.W. Bush from 8/31/92 that got a lot of us excited at the time: An Act of Leadership

A similar press release from the National Taxpayer Union on 1/23/08 addressed to Pres. George W. Bush: Bush Can Bolster Economy by Ordering Inflation-Indexed Cap Gains Taxes, Legal Brief Says

The actual report from August 1992 that is discussed in the above articles, describing the authority that the Treasury Dept. has to define Cost Basis as being inflation adjusted: 96 page PDF

 

The reason I am bringing this issue back up for discussion is the following very encouraging news from the U.S Senate:

Cruz Pushes Mnuchin for Quick Action on Capital Gains Tax Break

I doubt that I am alone in thinking that things are very different nowadays in terms of the odds of such a change finally being made.  As was illustrated, both Presidents Bush were extremely wimpy and utterly scared to death to do anything that would offend the media and the Dims, such as authorizing anything that would be propagandized by them as a boondoggle for the evil rich at the expense of the poor working slobs.  Both of them were too scared to do the right thing and implement this change in policy to allow the cost basis of capital assets to be adjusted for inflation.  Now that we have someone in the White House who seems to relish taking on the status quo and cares not a whit about offending the Dims and their media cohorts, we should finally have a much better chance of seeing this long overdue change enacted.

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