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How would Uncle Sam determine my Capital Gains Tax on stock investments if theres no "base" tax bracket to refer to??

You can check out the Tax Strategies FAQ for more depth but basically, you are taxed at 10% until you "fill up" the 15% bracket then the balance is taxed at 20% assuming all capital gains are long term. If any are short term, they will "fill up" your brackets first and be taxed at normal bracket rates.
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