How do I avoid taxes on my ETF?
Tax Strategies Using ETFs
ETFs allow investors to circumvent a tax rule found among mutual fund transactions related to capital gains. ETFs are structured in a way that avoids taxable events for ETF shareholders.
For ETFs held more than a year, you'll owe long-term capital gains taxes at a rate up to 23.8%, once you include the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) on high earners. If you hold the ETF for less than a year, you'll be taxed at the ordinary income rate.
|Vanguard Tax-Exempt Bond ETF (ticker: VTEB)
|Vanguard Short-Term Tax-Exempt Bond ETF (VTES)
|Vanguard High-Yield Tax-Exempt Fund Investor Shares (VWAHX)
|Schwab Tax-Free Bond Fund (SWNTX)
To avoid a wash sale, you could replace it with a different ETF (or several different ETFs) with similar but not identical assets, such as one tracking the Russell 1000® Index.
At least once a year, funds must pass on any net gains they've realized. As a fund shareholder, you could be on the hook for taxes on gains even if you haven't sold any of your shares.
Special treatment for certain ETF losses
Currency ETFs do not generate capital gains or losses, but rather ordinary income or losses. This means that losses on the sale of shares in these ETFs produce ordinary losses that can be used to offset ordinary income, such as wages and bank interest.
ETFs are subject to market fluctuation and the risks of their underlying investments. ETFs are subject to management fees and other expenses.
ETF dividends are taxed according to how long the investor has owned the ETF fund. If the investor has held the fund for more than 60 days before the dividend was issued, the dividend is considered a “qualified dividend” and is taxed anywhere from 0% to 20% depending on the investor's income tax rate.
This is no different than the tax treatment that applies to the sale of shares in individual stocks or in mutual funds. With some exceptions for certain types of ETFs, long-term capital gains are taxed at no more than 15% (zero for investors in the 10% or 15% tax bracket; 20% for investors in the 39.6% tax bracket ).
What is the downside of ETFs?
An ETF can stray from its intended benchmarks for several reasons. For instance, if the fund manager needs to swap out assets in the fund or make other changes, the ETF may not exactly reflect the holdings of the index. As a result, the performance of the ETF may deviate from the performance of the index.
Moreover, capital gains tax on an ETF is incurred only upon the sale of the ETF by the investor, whereas mutual funds pass on capital gains taxes to investors through the life of the investment. In short, ETFs have lower capital gains and they are payable only upon sales of the ETF.
Each Vanguard fund (other than money market funds and short-term bond funds, but including Vanguard Short-Term Inflation-Protected Securities Index Fund) generally prohibits, except as otherwise noted in the Investing With Vanguard section, an investor's purchases or exchanges into a fund account for 30 calendar days ...
Exchange-traded funds have different tax rules, depending on the assets they hold. For most ETFs, selling after less than a year is taxed as a short-term capital gain. ETFs held for longer than a year are taxed as long-term gains.
Any profit you make from selling a stock is taxable at either 0%, 15% or 20% if you held the shares for more than a year. If you held the shares for a year or less, you'll be taxed at your ordinary tax rate.
ETFs may close due to lack of investor interest or poor returns. For investors, the easiest way to exit an ETF investment is to sell it on the open market. Liquidation of ETFs is strictly regulated; when an ETF closes, any remaining shareholders will receive a payout based on what they had invested in the ETF.
Under Section 1091 of the Treasury regulations, a wash sale occurs when an investor sells stock (or other securities) at a loss, and within 30 days before or after the sale: Buys substantially identical stock or securities. Acquires substantially identical stock or securities in a fully taxable trade.
Short-Term: ETFs can be used for short-term trading strategies, such as taking advantage of short-term market trends or making tactical asset allocations based on short-term market conditions. Investors with short-term goals may hold ETFs for weeks, months, or a few yea.
If you own a stock where the company has declared bankruptcy and the stock has become worthless, you can generally deduct the full amount of your loss on that stock — up to annual IRS limits with the ability to carry excess losses forward to future years.
In a word: yes. If you sold any investments, your broker will be providing you with a 1099-B. This is the form you'll use to fill in Schedule D on your tax return.
Can you lose more than you invest in ETFs?
Yes, if you're using leverage or trading on margin, you can lose more than you invest in ETFs. Otherwise, in a standard investment without leverage, your losses are limited to the amount you've invested. Can you lose all your money from investing in ETFs even if you don't sell your position? No.
Like any business, even low-cost ETFs need to generate revenue to cover their costs. Like any business, even low-cost ETFs need to generate revenue to cover their costs. Plenty of ETFs fail to garner the assets necessary to cover these costs and, consequently, ETF closures happen regularly.
You expose your portfolio to much higher risk with sector ETFs, so you should use them sparingly, but investing 5% to 10% of your total portfolio assets may be appropriate. If you want to be highly conservative, don't use these at all.
|Assets under management
|Invesco QQQ Trust (ticker: QQQ)
|VanEck Semiconductor ETF (SMH)
|Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLY)
|Global X Uranium ETF (URA)
Capital gains are realized anytime you sell an investment and make a profit. And, yes this applies to all mutual fund shareholders even if you didn't sell your shares during the year.