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Financial Q&A: gold-coin sales tactics and taxes

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Q: My mother-in-law wants to convert some gold coins, specifically American Gold Eagles and Canadian Maple Leafs, into CDs and/or money market funds. How does one convert gold coins into cash in order to do this? What are the IRS reporting requirements?

R.S., via e-mail

A: From high-end jewelers to coin dealers to pawnshops, you'll have little trouble finding buyers for those coins. But to maximize your profit, Alan Olsen, a certified public accountant in Fremont, Calif., with Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen & Co., offers a few tips:

•Locate a reputable dealer. In addition to the Better Business Bureau and other resources, the US Mint's website ( lists dealers by state.

•Call around, as prices to buy and sell can vary greatly. In addition, prices change continually throughout the day, so try to get a time commitment for how long a quote will be valid.

•Be very wary of TV, Internet, and "get cash fast" ads.

As for taxes, Mr. Olsen notes that collectibles sales can be subject to a steep 28 percent federal capital-gains rate. (Stocks, securities, and many other investments typically carry a 15 percent long-term capital gains rate for most taxpayers.)


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