What is Capital Income?Definition, Difference, Example

Capital income refers to the money that you make from assets. If you have any capital assets, then you are making capital income. These assets include real estate, personal property, stock, bonds, and so on. Continue reading to learn all you need to know.

What is Capital Income?

Capital income is revenue that is derived from capital, or wealth itself, as opposed to particular output or direct labor.What is Capital Income?

Examples include stock dividends and any type of capital gains, as well as income derived from a firm that is unrelated to the owner’s labor. This term can also be used to refer to any revenue utilized for capital expenditures, but this usage is less prevalent.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States classifies income as either a capital gain or capital loss, depending on whether there is a net gain or loss.

For instance, if a parcel of land is acquired for $500,000 USD and sold for $600,000 USD one year later, the seller has a capital gain of $100,000 USD, which is included in his or her capital income for the year. Alternatively, if the land was sold for $400,000 USD, a capital loss of $100,000 USD has happened.

In the United States, this type of income is taxed much less than regular income, which includes wages and salaries. It is expected that this will encourage capitalists to invest more significantly. In fact, there are regular proposals to repeal capital gains taxes entirely and replace them with a consumption tax.

Under a consumption tax, only the purchase of goods and services would be taxed, thus individuals would be charged on how much they consume as opposed to how much wealth they produce.

The difference between capital income and regular income

Historically, the gap between capital income and regular income was referred to as the distinction between unearned and earned income. The idea behind this statement was that income from capital, which was simply generated from asset ownership, was not earned in the strictest meaning of the word.

On the other hand, labor was viewed as earned revenue. Particularly in the nineteenth century, there was a tremendous pushback against unearned wealth, which found expression in several anti-capitalist ideologies of the time.

History of Capital Income

Historically, in the United States, non-earned income was expected to be taxed at a considerably higher rate than earned or regular income. In the late 19th century, the initial plan for the federal income tax contained a tax on unearned income that was larger than the tax on earned income.

What is Capital Income?

When the current income tax was enacted in 1913, a provision was proposed to tax earned income at a lower rate than capital income, but it was rejected. A similar law was subsequently enacted, but it was removed a year later.

One argument against permitting the expansion of capital income is that it tends to compound, resulting in a more unequal distribution of wealth.

Since capital may generate more capital, any block of initial capital, such as that received by inheritance, will generate additional capital over time, causing it to grow exponentially. However, since salaries and the number of hours a person may work limit earned income, it will rise at a far slower rate.

Understanding Capital Incomes

As previously stated, capital incomes are the rise in value of an asset. Typically, these incomes are realized upon the sale of the asset. Due to the inherent price volatility of investments, such as stocks and mutual funds, capital incomes are typically connected with these assets.

However, they can also be realized on any asset that is sold for more than its initial purchase price, such as a home, furnishings, or a vehicle. Capital incomes are divided into two classes:

  • Short-term capital incomes are those incomeed on the sale of assets held for less than one year.
  • Long-term capital incomes are realized on assets sold after more than one year of ownership.

You must report both short- and long-term incomes on your annual tax return. 1 Understanding this differential and incorporating it into your plan is essential for day traders and those who take advantage of the increased convenience of internet trading.

Realized capital incomes result from the sale of an asset, which is a taxable event.

Unrealized incomes, sometimes known as paper incomes and losses, represent a rise or reduction in the value of an investment, but they are not regarded capital incomes that should be handled as taxable events.

Special Considerations

The tax treatment of short- and long-term capital incomes is distinct. Remember that short-term benefits result from holding investments for less than one year. Consequently, these profits are taxed as ordinary income depending on the taxpayer’s filing status and adjusted gross income (AGI).

What is Capital Income?

However, long-term capital incomes are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income. Long-term capital incomes are taxed at 15 percent for the majority of persons if their income falls below the following thresholds:

  • $441,450 for a single filer
  • $248,300 for separate filing married couples
  • $469,050 for the household’s head
  • $496,600 for jointly filing married couples

Long-term capital incomes are taxed at a rate of 20% for individuals whose earnings above certain levels and who are in a higher tax band. Those with an annual income of $40,000 or less (or $80,000 or less if filing jointly) pay zero percent on long-term capital incomes.

Capital Incomes and Mutual Funds

During the tax year, mutual funds that collect realized capital incomes must distribute them to owners. Before the conclusion of each calendar year, many mutual funds payout capital incomes.

Short-term or long-term capital incomes are distributed to shareholders together with a 1099-DIV form detailing the amount and kind of income. When a mutual fund distributes a capital income or dividend, the net asset value (NAV) falls by the distribution amount. A distribution of capital incomes has no effect on the fund’s total performance.

Before participating in a fund with a substantial unrealized capital income component, tax-aware investors in mutual funds should identify the unrealized cumulative capital incomes, represented as a percentage of the fund’s net assets. This condition is known as a fund’s capital incomes exposure. Capital incomes distributed by a fund are subject to taxation by the fund’s investors.

What is Capital Income?

Example of Capital Incomes

Here is a hypothetical illustration of how capital incomes function and are taxed. Suppose Jeff buys 100 shares of Amazon (AMZN) stock for $350 per share on 30 January 2016. Then, he chooses to sell all of the shares on January 30, 2018, for $833 apiece. Jeff achieved a capital income of $48,300 ($833 x 100 – $350 x 100 = $48,300), assuming there were no transaction costs involved with the sale.

Jeff’s annual income of $80,000 places him in the income bracket that qualifies him for the 15 percent long-term capital incomes tax rate ($40,001 to $441,500 for individuals and $80,001 to $496,600 for joint filers)

Jeff should pay $7,245 in tax on this transaction ($48,300 x 0.15 = $7,245).

How Are Capital Incomes Taxed?

There are two types of capital incomes: short-term and long-term. Depending on the individual’s filing status and adjusted gross income, short-term capital incomes are taxed as ordinary income. Long-term capital incomes, which are defined as profits made on securities held for more than one year, are often taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income.

What Are the Current Capital Incomes Tax Rates in the U.S.?

Individuals who earn more than $441,451 and married couples filing jointly who earn more than $496,601 pay a capital incomes tax rate of 20%.

The majority of taxpayers, however, qualify for a 15 percent long-term capital incomes tax rate if they earn between $40,001 and $441,450 for single filers and $80,000 and $496,600 for joint filers.

Up to $40,000 in income (or $80,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly) is exempt from long-term capital incomes tax.

What is Capital Income?

Short-term capital incomes tax brackets mirror those for regular income (10 percent to 37 percent ).

How Do Mutual Funds Account for Capital Incomes?

Mutual funds that amass realized capital incomes are required to disperse them to owners, often before the end of the calendar year. The distribution of the fund’s capital incomes is accompanied by a 1099-DIV form that details the distribution’s amount and the proportion of short-term and long-term profits.

This distribution decreases the net asset value of the mutual fund by the amount of the dividend, but has no effect on the fund’s overall return.

What Is a Net Capital Income?

A net capital income is defined by the IRS as the amount by which net long-term capital  income (long-term capital incomes minus long-term capital losses and any unused capital losses carried over from earlier years) surpasses net short-term capital loss (short-term capital income minus short-term capital loss). A net capital income may be taxed at a rate lower than the rate applicable to ordinary income.

What is Capital Income?


Capital Income is the most common type of income, it is also referred as profits or gains. In some countries it is called dividends.Capital Income is one of the most important sources of income in a company and it is earned by its owners or shareholders through the company’s profits.

If you are an owner of a company, then capital income is a part of the company’s revenue. You receive dividends from the company, after it pays its debts, taxes, and other costs.

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