What You Need to Know
- Tax loss harvesting effectively delays the realization of capital gains taxes, and when they are paid, it will hopefully be at a reduced rate.
- A tax-smart investment management strategy affords advisors a bit more control over normal portfolio volatility.
- Technology has revolutionized tax management, providing advisors with the ability to take an automated, year-round approach to tax loss harvesting.
Today’s market environment is increasingly challenging for investors. Long-term capital market assumptions forecast U.S. equities returning a meager 4.1%, a decline of 1.4% from 2020.
Alpha is harder to come by for even the most skilled active managers. As a result, tax management has come to the forefront, as an extra 1% per year or more potentially achieved through tax loss harvesting is a significant improvement for clients, and the savings can add up substantially over time.
The concept of tax loss harvesting is not new, but it is a core component to tax-smart investing, seeking to increase after-tax return and offset the client’s tax burden. Historically, tax loss harvesting has been a tedious exercise, with advisors manually reviewing and selecting a handful of positions where a client could realize a tax loss toward the end of the year.
In short, whatever happened to be at a loss at that particular time may be a candidate for loss harvesting. In that setting, it is typically worth only a small incremental benefit to the client, but a benefit nonetheless that will ultimately lighten the tax bill at the end of the year.
As we enter the year-end period, a lot of advisors will begin discussing tax loss harvesting strategies with clients. But the practice can be far more impactful if applied systematically throughout the year.
Technology has revolutionized tax management in that it has provided advisors with the ability to take an automated, year-round approach to tax loss harvesting. Such scalable, technology-based solutions can service an advisor’s entire practice, meaning tax management is no longer the exclusive domain of high-net-worth accounts.