Dabbling in the stock market typically is considered a practice of wealthier individuals.
Thanks to the 2003 tax law changes, the capital gains tax on profits from sold assets were cut from 20 percent to 15 percent for higher earners, and 10 percent to 5 percent for investors in the two lowest tax brackets.
Further cuts made investing, or rather selling investments, even more appealing for individuals in the 10 percent and 15 percent tax brackets. They don't owe any tax on their adjusted net capital gains.
This zero percent capital gains tax rate is a great benefit not only for workers with lower incomes, but also for retirees and semiretirees, as well as for young investors.
But that no-tax rate, as well as the 15 percent levy for wealthier investors, will jump back to 10 percent and 20 percent, respectively, unless Congress acts.
Certain dividend payments also receive favorable tax treatment under current law, being taxed at the taxpayer's applicable capital gains rate. That, too, will change in 2011.
Taxes on qualified dividend earnings will once again be taxed at the individual's ordinary income tax rate which, absent Congressional changes, will range from 15 percent to 39.6 percent.