This year, one of the biggest tax changes is the zero tax rate on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends for those who are normally in the 10% or 15% regular income tax brackets. Single taxpayers whose 2008 taxable income falls under $32,551 and marrieds with income under $65,101 meet the requirements.
Even if you're not usually in the 10% or 15% tax brackets, you may be able to benefit from this tax break with some 2008 tax planning. You might consider ways to cut your 2008 taxable income if you're close to the threshold amounts.
For example, you might increase deductions such as charitable donations or contributions to retirement accounts. If you assist your parents financially, you might consider gifting appreciated stock to them if their income falls below threshold amounts. They could then sell the stock and qualify for the zero tax rate on the sale.
Unfortunately, the recent change to the kiddie tax rules means that gifting investment assets to a child may not allow the child to qualify for the 0% rate on investment income. This year the kiddie tax applies to investment income exceeding $1,800 for children up to age 19 (up to age 24 for full-time students).