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There are a few related questions about taxation of stocks in the US. I've never sold stocks yet, so the question may seem silly.

  • Do I pay taxes only for the stocks which were sold for a price that is higher than their acquisition price?
    • E.g. I buy 1 stock unit for $100.00 and sell it later for $150.00 => income taxes arise.
    • I buy 1 stock unit for $150.00 and sell it later for $100.00 => no income taxes here.

What is the value which is a subject of taxation? Do I pay taxes based on the $50.00 difference only? How much would I pay in taxes? Does tax amount vary based on initial stock price itself (penny-stocks vs blue chips)?

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    In a very basic sense, as in bullet point number 1, you only pay taxes on gains. If you have a loss, like bullet point number 2, you can offset your gains by your losses. There are other rules that complicate matters like when you have more losses than gains and the period in which you held the security, but those are the basics. – quid Mar 4 '16 at 23:38
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E.g. I buy 1 stock unit for $100.00 and sell it later for $150.00 => income taxes arise.

Correct. You pay tax on your gains, i.e.: the different between net proceeds and gross costs (proceeds sans fees, acquisition costs including fees).

I buy 1 stock unit for $150.00 and sell it later for $100.00 => no income taxes here.

Not correct. The loss is deductible from other capital gains, and if no other capital gains - from your income (up to $3000 a year, until exhausted).

Also, there are two different tax rate sets for capital gains: short term (holding up to 1 year) and long term (more than that). Short term capital gains tax matches ordinary income brackets, whereas long term capital gains tax brackets are much lower.

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