4 smart ways to reduce your tax bill

Dump your losers and cash in some winners. Moves you can make now to cushion the blow to your portfolio

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
By Janet Morrissey, contributor

Fortune 40: The best stocks to retire on
After a bleak 2008, equities are looking up. But whatever the market, our trademark long-term portfolio can help you build a nest egg for a secure future.
When do you plan to retire?
  • Before age 65
  • At age 65
  • After 65
  • Never

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- We spoke to several leading financial advisers about the strategies they were recommending their clients adopt to cut their taxes now and in the future.

Harvest your stock market losses

"We have been aggressively harvesting tax losses for our clients over the last year or two, and of course the market environment has assisted us with that," says Gregg Fisher, president of financial advisory firm Gerstein Fisher.

"Those losses can be used to offset capital gains in the future, and if you think capital gains rates might be higher in the future, those losses become even more valuable," he says.

And for clients who still like the battered stock they just sold, no problem. IRS rules allow an investor to buy the asset back after 31 days.

Cash in some winners

There's also a tax strategy for those with gains in their portfolio.

A number of advisers are urging their more affluent clients to sell some of those appreciated assets in order to lock in the gain, and to pay the capital gains tax while it's only 15%, before it rises to 20% in 2011.

These investors can also buy back the same shares after 31 days if they still want to own the stock.

Invest in municipal bonds

Many advisers are also recommending that clients put a bigger chunk of their cash into tax-free municipal bonds.

Although many states are facing severe financial difficulties because of the recession, "We like munis right now because even during the Great Depression the default rate was less than 4%, and we're not in a Great Depression," says Mark Brown, a managing partner at Brown & Tedstrom, a financial planning and advisory firm.

"In a normal recession, less than one-tenth of 1% has been the historical default rate." He adds that their prices have fallen over the past six months, making them even more attractive.

Divide and conquer

Even as tax rates rise, you'll probably be paying less on capital gains than on ordinary income.

Sean Cunniff, a research director in TowerGroup's brokerage and wealth management service, is recommending that investors take advantage of that gap by favoring fixed-income investments (which pay interest that is taxed as ordinary income) in your tax-deferred accounts and putting equity investments with big potential long-term capital gains into taxable accounts. To top of page

 
Company Price Change % Change
Facebook Inc 60.87 -0.49 -0.80%
Bank of America Corp... 16.34 -0.03 -0.18%
Microsoft Corp 39.86 0.17 0.43%
Verizon Communicatio... 46.28 -1.15 -2.42%
Micron Technology In... 26.16 -0.09 -0.34%
Data as of 4:01pm ET
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,501.65 0.00 0.00%
Nasdaq 4,148.34 21.37 0.52%
S&P 500 1,878.61 3.22 0.17%
Treasuries 2.69 0.00 0.07%
Data as of 6:12pm ET
More Galleries
Don't give my job to Staples Hundreds of U.S. Postal Service workers protested against experimental mini post offices at Staples. Here's why some Washington, D.C. workers don't like the deal. More
Tools to make your money grow You've started saving and built a financial base. Time for a few new strategies and tools to get your money to grow even more. From real estate to IRAs, here are some tips. More
Ready to start saving? Here's how to do it right When you are just starting out or finally starting to get serious about saving, the basics will get you far. Here are more than a dozen tips that will help you lay the base for building your net worth. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.