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Am I to understand that with nothing on the GAIN line, and everything on the LOSS line -- that this $3,000 loss can be used to offset my other income (e.g. wages, dividends, etc.) I don't have anything like $3K in dividends, so would ordinary wages apply?

I think you've got it. Capital losses are deducted from your capital gains first, and then if there is any losses left, up to $3k can be deducted from other income. It is not necessary to have a capital gain to take advantage of capital losses, it just that they go against those gains first. Wages are other income, so they would apply (as would any other income that you can think of).

I understand this is dependent on my bracket, it's deductible, not a credit, etc.

It is NOT dependent on your tax bracket. And yes, it is a deduction, not any type of credit.

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