Talk:Tax-efficient fund placement/Archive 1

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I don't agree with the idea that an Emerging Stock Market Index is very tax efficient. Once a country transitions between emerging to developed, all the companies in the emerging market index would have to be sold and bought in a different index. Possibility for lots of capital gains. (NYCPete)

When this happens, it will lead to a lot of capital gains. If South Korea were promoted from emerging to developed, then since it is 15% of Emerging Markets Index and probably 5% of the basis, that would mean a 10% capital gain distribution, all long-term, and a 1.5% tax bill. However, that is a fairly rare event; if it happens once every ten years, the annualized tax cost would be 0.15%. The other tax disadvantage of emerging markets is that the dividends are only 2/3 qualified, which is currently a tax cost of 0.12% in the top tax bracket. The sum of those two extra tax costs is just about equal to the tax savings from the foreign tax credit; therefore, emerging market indexes are not quite as good in a taxable account as developed or US market indexes, but the difference is small enough that emerging markets should still be placed in a taxable account in preference to anything else. Grabiner 11:54, 25 May 2008 (EDT)

Based on expected tax rates

I think there should be a comment here that this placement recommendation is making some basic (and well reasoned) assumptions about future tax law. What do you think? --Edge 20:39, 29 May 2008 (EDT)

Good idea, and I have added a sentence. Grabiner 23:19, 29 May 2008 (EDT)

I would suggest deleting the return-of-capital section; it is useful in the REIT page, but it is too large a part of this page, and it isn't the main point of the page. A correction mentioning that almost all, rather than all, of the REIT income is taxable might be useful. Grabiner 23:39, 3 June 2008 (EDT)

The table is gone now, but I would still suggest deleting the return-of-capital section as a separate section, with a wording in the main text such as, "REITs are required to distribute almost all their income, and the income is taxable at the non-qualified dividend rate except for a small portion (historically about 15%) which is non-taxable because it compensates for depreciation of the property." Grabiner 22:19, 4 June 2008 (EDT)

This article needs some introduction for the context. For example if all your accounts are tax deferred accounts, don't even worry about any of these.

Done; this also allowed me to point out that the principles are still important even if all your investments are taxable.Grabiner 23:17, 6 June 2008 (EDT)

Bringing the ordering up to date

With the established record of ETFs, I believe we should move non-value ETFs (and Vanguard funds with an ETF class) up to the Efficient category. (Value ETFs should stay in the middle category until it is determined what happens to qualified dividends in 2011; they won't be tax-efficient if their high dividend yields are taxed at your full tax rate.) I would also suggest either deleting or updating the pictorial guide, which was good at the time it was writted but predates ETFs (and thus tax-efficient small-cap index funds).Grabiner 03:01, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

From my perspective, the tabular list (Order of Funds by Estimated Tax Efficiency) is too difficult to understand. I suspect this is why the pictorial guide was created in the first place. If you can suggest an updated hierarchy using simplified categories, I can update the guide. I don't have the original image, but I do have PowerPoint. --LadyGeek 02:18, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
The pictorial guide is older than the tabular list, and if we update both, then the pictorial guide can match the tabular list.Grabiner 01:40, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

I deleted the original pictorial guide, but created a similar layout with the existing tabular list (and new arrow). To me, this is easy to read. The table is ready for editing. ETFs have recently become very popular, so this list needs an evaluation to be sure it's current (I don't have the background to do it). --LadyGeek 01:37, 6 May 2010 (UTC)

And I removed the preference for tax-deferred over tax-free for the most tax-inefficient assets; this was never correct. (It may be better to put higher-returning assets in a Roth, but that is not the same issue.) Grabiner 02:55, 6 May 2010 (UTC)
I think the pictorial diagram looks good now, except for the big gap at the top (at least on my screen width); can anyone fix that on the wiki?Grabiner 03:12, 6 May 2010 (UTC)

I modified centered the table vertically inside the cell, scaled the arrow, and added a cell for better separation. I left comments in the code to show what I did. Edit the page or look at the history to view. --LadyGeek 01:40, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

Reordering of page

I think the order of funds by tax-efficiency (with the colored arrow) should be put back near the top, followed by the explanation, as it is the most important point for most readers. We can discuss the theory further down in the page, but the order should be where newbies will see it.Grabiner 12:49, 29 January 2011 (EST)

I moved the table usage directly after the table itself, the sections should go: Overview, general strategy, fund placement table, how to use the table, detailed explanation. Also note that the fund placement table is used in Investing FAQ for the Bogleheads Forum. It was already out of sync, so I changed that page to utilize the table source from here (wiki's transclusion operation).--LadyGeek 12:29, 30 January 2011 (EST)


The reason for the controversy should be noted. If there will never be a consensus, perhaps the controversy marker should be removed and just state that the placement is subject to judgment. The detailed explanations are very helpful. --LadyGeek 12:29, 30 January 2011 (EST)

forum link--Blbarnitz 13:46, 30 January 2011 (EST)

Bond taxation

The 4th paragraph in "Hypothetical tax costs for comparison" states: "Bond funds are tax-inefficient because their gains are almost all in ordinary income."

This is unclear to me, what gain aspect is inefficient? Bond fund gains / losses are treated the same as a mutual fund - Tax Treatment on a Bond Mutual Fund. Is the intent to say that the dividends are treated as ordinary income, which is taxed at the marginal rate, and therefore represent an inefficiency (?).

I don't understand capital allocation as described in the same article. Is allocation something an investor would never see(?).

When a mutual fund actually adds value, this is considered a capital gain. The gains can be distributed or allocated. Most mutual funds distribute the capital gains. On a traditional mutual fund, capital gains qualify for some preferred tax treatment if they are distributed in the long term. Short term capital gains are treated as ordinary dividends, though. It is rare for a mutual fund, specifically a bond mutual fund, to use capital allocation. This would actually raise the value of the principal of your bond. If this occurs, however, the taxes would need to be filed as an allocation and not a distribution.

Bond Basics#Taxes could also use some clarification. "How" bonds are taxed should be added before the "Where bonds are ranked in tax order".

I'm hesitant to update these sections myself, as I'm unclear on the subtleties involved.

--LadyGeek 21:33, 1 February 2011 (EST)

There is little tax difference between bonds and bond funds. The issue with bonds is that almost all the gains from bonds are taxed at your full tax rate; in contrast, most of the gains from stocks are deferred, and when taxed, are taxed at the capital-gains rate.

Here's a link to Fairmark's explanation of capital allocation. [1] A fund is allowed to pay the taxes itself, rather than make a taxable distribution to fundholders. (However, a fund which does this creates an unnecessary tax cost for investors who hold it in tax-deferred account, which is why few funds do this.)Grabiner 20:10, 2 February 2011 (EST)

A few items were unclear with this latest update:

  • The meaning of gain for a bond fund. I believe the intent is for dividends.
  • The capital-gains rate implication is for long-term capital gains, which leaves out short-term gains.

Bonds or bond funds are tax-inefficient because almost all their gains are taxed as ordinary income; in contrast, much of the return from stocks is from price appreciation, which is not taxed until the stocks are sold, and is taxed then at the capital-gains rate if the stocks were held more than a year. Municipal bond funds have a hidden cost; while their interest incomes are not subject to federal tax, they earn less than corporate bond funds of comparable risk. REITs, although they trade as stocks, are required to distribute almost all their income, and the income is taxable at the non-qualified dividend rate except for a small portion (historically about 15%) which is non-taxable because it compensates for depreciation of the property. (For details on the tax consequences of this return of capital distribution, refer to Vanguard REIT Index tax distributions).

I used the discussion from Bond Basics#Taxes and broke up the paragraph into separate bond, mutual bond funds, and REIT (placed after stocks). However, I'm unsure on the intent of index fund as used here:

Therefore, bonds are widely regarded as being less tax-efficient than stock index funds and should be held in tax-deferred accounts when possible.

Should this say stock funds instead of stock index funds? --LadyGeek 21:21, 3 February 2011 (EST)

I mean stock index funds; the tax advantage of a stock index fund over a bond fund is that almost all capital gains are deferred, and this doesn't happen for most active stock funds. The low-turnover active fund has tax costs of 0.85%/0.95%/1.35% in the table , which is comparable to the 1.50% tax cost of a municipal bond fund once you consider the capital-gains tax to be paid when you sell the stock fund. I did add a clarification.Grabiner 22:32, 3 February 2011 (EST)