An In-Depth Look at the Tax Consequences of Asset Location
by Kevin Trout
Asset location refers to where an investment asset is held: in a tax-deferred retirement account (e.g., an IRA) or in a taxable account. By fine-tuning asset location, investors can improve their aftertax return on their overall investment portfolio.
Articles on asset location cannot definitively rank the type of investments to place in a tax-deferred account because such a ranking depends on changeable factors: return parameters that are constantly in flux in the economy; tax rates, which change with the political environment and investors’ income level; and investment holding periods, which are specific to the investor. This article summarizes the general information on asset location and gives investors access to a model that can help refine asset location decisions to take their own unique situation into account.
In this article
- Overview of Asset Location
- Tax Deferral: A Large Benefit of Investing in a Tax-Deferred Account
- The Model
- Effect of Tax Rate Increases
- Asset Location Dos and Don’ts
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Overview of Asset Location
Investors maintaining the same asset allocation in their taxable and tax-deferred retirement accounts are not receiving maximum benefit from their tax-deferred accounts. Investors should place the investments in the tax-deferred accounts that will provide the greatest benefit. The benefit of placing an investment in a tax-deferred account can be measured by the increase in the annualized aftertax rate of return.
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