Mutual Funds

Mutual funds usually pay capital gain distributions in November or December. If you buy into a fund before the distribution date, you can be taxed on the gains distributed even though they have already been reflected in your purchase price. Consider waiting until January to buy into the fund.

Although you have no control over the timing of sales in a mutual fund, you can look for mutual funds that employ certain tax-saving strategies. Some funds trade actively, while others employ a buy-and-hold strategy.

To calculate exact gains or losses on mutual fund investments, save every statement. Determining which shares are sold can reduce your gain, or at least qualify it as a long-term gain, which is subject to lower tax rates. Also consider everything that comprises your basis:

  • Commissions or fees paid when you bought the shares;

  • Reinvested dividends for which you have been taxed;

  • Nontaxable returns of capital.

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    Delay late-year mutual fund investments until after the fund's dividend date.
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