Probably the last thing you want to think about is taxes. However, as we approach the close of 2017, planning ahead and taking advantage of this time-proven strategy before year-end, just may allow you to lessen your tax bite come April 15.
If you are looking for ways to minimize your tax bill, there’s no better time for tax planning than before year-end. In fact, there are a number of tax-smart strategies you can implement now that will reduce your tax bill come April 15. Here’s just one of them…
PUT LOSSES TO WORK
If you expect to realize either short- or long-term capital gains, the IRS allows you to offset these gains with capital losses. Short-term gains (gains on assets held less than a year) are taxed at ordinary rates, which range from 10% to 39.6%, and can be offset with short-term losses. Long-term gains (gains on assets held longer than a year) are taxed at a top rate of 20% and can be reduced by long-term capital losses. 1To the extent that losses exceed gains, you can deduct up to $3,000 in capital losses against ordinary income on that year’s tax return and carry forward any unused losses for future years.
Given these rules, there are several actions you should consider:
Avoid short-term capital gains when possible, as these are taxed at higher ordinary rates. Unless you have short-term capital losses to offset them, try holding the assets for at least one year.
Take a good look at your portfolio before year-end and estimate your gains and losses. Some investments, such as mutual funds, incur trading gains or losses that must be reported on your tax return and are difficult to predict. But most capital gains and losses will be triggered by the sale of the asset, which you usually control. Are there some winners that have enjoyed a run and are ripe for selling? Are there losers you would be better off liquidating? The important point is to cover as much of the gains with losses as you can, thereby minimizing your capital gains tax.
Consider taking capital losses before capital gains since unused losses may be carried forward for use in future years, while gains must be taken in the year they are realized.
When evaluating whether or not to sell a given investment, keep in mind that a few down periods don’t mean you should sell simply to realize a loss. Stocks in particular are long-term investments subject to ups and downs. Likewise, a healthy unrealized gain does not necessarily mean an investment is ripe for selling. Remember that past performance is no indication of future results; it is expectations for future performance that count. Moreover, taxes should only be one consideration in any decision to sell or hold an investment.
Important Note: The views expressed in this post are as of the date of the posting and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This post contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and should not be taken to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Lenity Financial, Inc. unless a client service agreement is in place.
1Under certain circumstances, the IRS permits you to offset long-term gains with net short-term capital losses. See IRS Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses.
Financial Planning Association®