Taxes And Transitions

Bringing Order to Your Investment Universe: Taxes And Transitions

In the first installment of our “Bringing Order to Your Investment Universe” Series, we talked about the beauty of being organized. Now, in Part 2 of this series, let’s take a look at transitions and taxes.

Easy Assignments

Here are two conditions under which you should be able to fast-track your transitional trades:

In Tax-Sheltered Accounts: Depending on the account type, you may pay ordinary income taxes when you eventually take money back out of a tax-sheltered account. But there are no tax consequences to the trades you make within these accounts along the way. Because realized gains are not taxed in your tax-sheltered accounts, we can usually place trades promptly within any of them. (1)

In Taxable Accounts: In your taxable accounts, we can sell targeted positions that have not grown much in value over time, since these trades will incur few, if any taxable gains. If a holding has actually declined in value, you may even be able to incur a capital loss on it, which can be used to offset gains incurred elsewhere.

Deliberate Decisions

What if your plan calls for selling taxable positions that have substantially appreciated (gone up in value)? It is not as easy to decide whether and when to trigger these taxable gains. Should you sell sooner than later? Bide your time? Skip it entirely? Let’s look at each possibility.

Selling Sooner

Nobody enjoys paying taxes. But remember…

Tax Costs Are Relative: Moving toward a low-cost, tax-efficient, well-structured portfolio should leave you better positioned to earn the highest expected returns for the costs and other risks involved. If a careful analysis suggests the expected rewards should readily outweigh the upfront costs, it may make sense to go ahead and pay those taxes anyway.

Your Mindset Matters: The sooner you are able to sell positions that are no longer serving your needs, the sooner you can establish a better sense of control over your money. With the improved clarity, you are less likely to make costly “buy high, sell low” investment mistakes in ever-moving markets. Failing to invest consistently can cost far more than the tax hit you may need to take to acquire greater investment resolve.

You Are Buying Low and Selling High: If you sell a position for a taxable gain, you are also locking in a profit. Since that is exactly what an investor ultimately wants to do, it may be worth paying reasonable taxes to periodically take some of your overweighted “winnings” off the table.

Biding Your Time

So, yes, there are times it may make sense to pay some upfront taxes to speed your plan along. Other times, it may make more sense to take a multiyear course toward your ideal transition. By preparing to sell targeted positions across several years, you may be able to strike a happy medium between minimizing the impact on your annual tax rates while successfully moving toward your preferred portfolio.

“Pretty Nice” May Need To Suffice

Your plan also may include keeping some of your less-ideal investments indefinitely. Even if a holding is not THE perfect position for the job, close enough may be good enough if the tax and/or trading hurdles are high enough. Also, some of your net worth may be tied up in an employer’s retirement plan, equity incentive program or similar account where your choices are limited. These assets still need to be considered within your overall portfolio but may call for a different level of planning.

Bottom line, do not be blindsided by taxes. But neither should an aversion to taxes blind you to the practical and emotional costs of clinging to a position longer than warranted. Fortunately, there are many ways to manage a smoother transition. We will cover some of them in the next installment of this series.

FREE FINANCIAL ASSESSMENT

With all the uncertainty and volatility in today’s economy, the time is now to take a thorough look at your finances. To accurately plan for your financial future, you must first know where you currently stand. For these reasons, our Success Team at Impact Advisors Group is offering a free financial assessment for both individuals and business owners. Request yours today!

(1) Tax-sheltered accounts include traditional, Roth, SEP, and other types of IRAs; 401(k) and 403(b) employer plans; and similar types of accounts

This post was written and first distributed by Wendy J. Cook.

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