Contrary to what many think, tax rates have generally been decreasing since the 1970s. The top rate in the 1970s used to be 50%, declined to as low as 28%, and is now 35%. The top long-term capital gain rates used to be 39.9% and is now 15%. The top dividend rate used to be 70% (!) and is now down to 15%.
[Now, I see the top tax rate used to be 7% in 1913, then more than doubled to 15% in 1916, then zoomed to 67% in 1917. It reached as high as 92% in 1952. [The capital gain tax rate has ranged from 7% to 49.88% (in 1977). And the dividend tax rate has ranged from zero to fully taxable (100% of the ordinary income rate).]
Should you sell some securities now, before long-term capital gains
rates go up? Currently, profits on long-term investments (those held
more than one year) are taxed at a top rate of 15%. The Obama
Administration has proposed raising the top rate back to 20% for
families making over $250,000 and keeping it at 15% for everyone else.
If Congress takes no action, the top rate is scheduled to return to 20%
for securities held between one and five years, and 18% for those held
more than five years for everyone (23.8% and 21.8% respectively
including the new healthcare law surtax for high earners).