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Greetings Chuck,

Can't I save just as much on cap gains through a brokerage if I buy and hold individual stocks?

Assuming you NEVER change stocks and NO dividends are paid you are right. Keep in mind though that for example about 6% of the S & P 500 changes every year by market cap and that the yield of the market is about 1.59% which means that each year you get a little tax bill if you hold say SPY for those dividends that is NOT the case within an IRA. (Also, some IRAs will let you use pre-tax monies so that it is a bigger initial value versus the post-tax case you have here.)

I mean I'm charged my max of 20% for long term gains, and that's not charged until I sell out

Assuming you hold growthy stocks(No REITs or hi-yielding stuff) with no dividends it should be 18% if you hold for at least 5 years. Of course 18% vs 0% which is better? Hmm...

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