While there is a lot of discussion about tax-loss harvesting, less is spoken about tax gain harvesting. Harvesting your earnings, particularly your long-term capital gains, can save you up to a big amount in taxes each year.
Tax gain harvesting, when done correctly, can save you money, lower your taxes, and reduce the risk in your portfolio. Let’s have a look at how it works.
What Is Tax Gain Harvesting?
Tax gains harvesting is the practice of strategically selling assets that have appreciated to reduce taxes and restore portfolio balance. The conventional idea is to avoid paying capital gains taxes by deferring the sale of valuable assets. This isn’t always the ideal strategy because it might lead to portfolio over-concentration, which increases the chance of future losses.
What is the Process of Tax Gain Harvesting?
You should sell appreciated assets for a variety of reasons. Here are three circumstances in which selling and harvesting profits to improve the overall financial health of your portfolio makes sense.
Lower tax bracket this year
Locking in your earnings during low years is an excellent strategy for folks whose income fluctuates year to year. To keep your tax burden low, you can take advantage of lower tax brackets. In addition, if your taxable income is less than $40,400 as a single taxpayer ($80,800 married filing jointly) in 2021, your capital gains tax rate could be as low as 0%.
Offset losses in your portfolio
You can counterbalance the gains you’re harvesting dollar-for-dollar if you have losses in your portfolio. Many investors are aware of this tax loss harvesting technique. You can harvest your losses at any time during the year, but most investors wait until the end of the year to reap the benefits of their losses and tax status.
Reduce concentrated positions (AKA rebalancing your portfolio).
For their portfolios, most investors have a good mix of stocks and bonds. Your portfolio mix may need to be rebalanced based on market performance. To re-establish the right balance, rebalancing involves selling appreciated assets and purchasing those that have lost money. This prevents you from becoming overly reliant on a single asset class and allows you to purchase assets that are “on-sale” compared to their normal worth.
When You Shouldn’t Use Tax Gain Harvesting
In the correct circumstances, tax gain harvesting is a wonderful technique, but not all investors should use it. Following this strategy might sometimes be detrimental to your financial health. There are three scenarios in which tax gain harvesting should not be used.
You only owned assets for a year
Tax gain harvesting takes use of long-term capital gains’ low tax rates. You must possess the asset for at least one year to qualify for the lower taxes. Ordinary income tax rates apply if you sell it before one year.
Alternative Minimum Tax may be due (AMT)
For some taxpayers, the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) is a legal requirement. Selling investments to harvest profits could result in you owing to an alternative minimum tax, depending on your income. Consult your tax professional and consider completing a preliminary tax return to see if the AMT applies to your situation before harvesting your earnings.
You have to pay Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT)
The Net Investment Income Tax is an additional tax on certain net investment income that high-income taxpayers must pay. If this tax applies, any investment income above the threshold will be taxed at a rate of 3.8 percent. The barrier is $200,000 for solo taxpayers and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly (2021 tax rules). Because these income restrictions aren’t adjusted for inflation, it’s feasible that more and more investors could be affected in the future.