When taking a diversified investment approach, our goal in constructing a portfolio is to combine assets that don’t move together. This means that even during a year which saw the S&P 500 up over 21%1, it may be that some of your investments are trading for less today than when you purchased them.
When we have investment losses, we can harvest or “realize” these losses within a given year to offset tax liabilities on investment gains and personal income. Currently, the IRS allows a married couple filing jointly to deduct up to $3,000 in investment losses from their total income. For single individuals or those married and filing separately, the maximum deduction is $1,500.
It’s important to note that the IRS has several “gotchas” built into the current rules surrounding tax-loss harvesting. Wash sales, reinvestment of mutual fund distributions, and cost basis accounting are just a few of the more technical items to look out for.