Tax-loss Harvesting — Reduce Your Taxes

Possibly the single most important tool for reducing your taxes is tax-loss harvesting. Usually, tax-loss harvesting is done at the end of the year. But, as Jim Lange and radio guest Bob Keebler pointed out during the May 20th edition of The Lange Money Hour, the current down market has created an opportunity to harvest losses right now.

Bob is a partner with Virchow, Krause & Company in Wisconsin and has been busy all year executing this strategy for his clients. (By the way, congrats to Bob on being named one of the Top Most Influential CPAs in America by CPA magazine 4 out of the last 6 years).

If you have never used this strategy before, tax-loss harvesting is the art of selling securities at a loss in order to offset a capital gains tax liability. It truly is an art and Bob strongly advised against trying to execute this strategy yourself. Turn first to your trusted financial professional for their advice.

The key to this strategy is to take losses at their deepest point without getting out of the market completely. As Jim and Bob mentioned, you don’t want to miss a good run in the market. Therefore, a slow and methodical approach to tax-loss harvesting is the way to go.

What if you’ve accumulated thousands of dollars in losses, but don’t have an equal amount in capital gains? There are a couple of things to consider — a capital loss can offset only $3,000 of ordinary income as adjusted to your AGI (Adjusted Gross Income). The good news is that tax losses may be carried forward onto future tax returns.

If you have the bright idea that you can buy an asset and sell it solely to pay less taxes, you’ll have to think again. The IRS figured that taxpayers would try this, so their rule is that your loss won’t be allowed if you purchased the same asset within 30 days.

Tax-loss harvesting takes some serious analysis, but the results can be well worth it — especially in this down market. Jim and Bob’s final piece of advice was to sit down with your CPA now if you have losses. Don’t wait until the end of the year when the market may be on a rebound.

Thanks again to Bob for his great advice. His material is always incredibly helpful and informative and his latest product is designed to make the complicated topic of IRAs easy to understand. It’s called The Big IRA Book (literally big with 11 x 17 pages) and is packed with charts, graphs and tools to help you make informed decisions. For more information, call 800-955-0554.

As always, if you’d like to listen to Jim and Bob, the audio is available on this website.

$250 Recovery Checks

The check is in the mail. This time it’s coming from the federal government in the form of $250 economic recovery payments. Back in February, President Obama signed into law The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The idea is to jumpstart the stalled economy and save jobs by putting more than $13 billion into the hands of more than 50 million Americans.

Vice President Joe Biden said, “These are checks that will make a big difference in the lives of older Americans and people with disabilities — many of whom have been hit especially hard by the economic crisis that has swept across the country.”

So, who will be getting checks? You qualify if you receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) with the exception of those receiving Medicaid in care facilities. The legislation also provides for a one-time payment to Veterans Affairs (VA) and Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) beneficiaries.

If you fall into one of these categories, it’s possible that you already have your check, since the first checks were mailed on May 7th. If you haven’t received your payment yet — don’t worry. They are being sent on a staggered basis throughout the month of May.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to do anything to receive your $250 payment. Checks are being mailed automatically and will be sent separately from your regular monthly payment. The Social Security Administration is advising that you don’t contact them unless you have not received your payment by June 4, 2009.

If you still have questions about your economic recovery payment, feel free to contact one of the professionals on the Lange team. Our toll-free number is 800-387-1129. You can also get answers online at

Have fun stimulating the economy!