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Well, the best way to get rid of capital losses is to put them against ordinary income, $3000 at a time. You're set for the next 50 years.

After I realized a big loss, let's say in one future year, I realize a big gain, can I apply the carried-over loss to the gain?

Oh, absolutely. In fact, you have to do it that way. If you have a carried-forward loss, it is first used to offset any capital gains that you may have. If you still have a loss, up to $3K of the remaining loss goes against ordinary income, with the rest carried forward again.

When I said that the best way to use up losses was to put them against ordinary income, $3K per year until you run out, I meant that you get the greatest tax benefit that way - since ordinary income (and short term gains) is taxed at the highest rate. You don't get so much bang for the buck if you offset long term gains, since they are taxed at a fairly low rate these days. (But they're still good things to have!)

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