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Can Exchange Traded Funds -ETFs- Save You Money On Taxes? – Forbes

Can you use ETFs to pay less taxes on your investments? How to investment more tax efficiently.

The exchange-traded fund industry has been booming for the past few years. Much of these gains in assets have come at the expense of old-school mutual funds. Some investors have transitioned to ETFs because of lower expense ratios when compared to similar mutual funds. Many wealthier Americans have been guided towards ETFs for their tax efficiency.

Generally speaking, ETFs are more tax-efficient investment vehicles that incur fewer capital gains disbursements than your mutual funds. As a financial planner who loves tax planning, being more tax efficient with your investments is essential to improving net after-tax investment returns without necessarily taking on more investment risk.

When you sell a mutual fund, the fund manager is forced to sell securities in their portfolio to raise cash to fund your redemption. Whereas when you sell an ETF, you sell that investment bucket (within the ETF) to another investor. With the ETF, there is no taxable sale of the underlying holdings. You will still have capital gains (or capital losses) on the sale of the whole ETF.

When an investor exits a mutual fund, the fund’s manager must sell securities to raise cash for redemption. The same investor leaving an ETF can sell their shares to another investor, meaning neither the fund nor its manager has made a taxable transaction.

In 2021, the ETF industry took in about $500 billion of new assets when looking at asset flows. On the flip side, the mutual fund industry lost around $362 billion. While I do see the shift toward ETFs continuing, I don’t think mutual funds are going away any time soon. Many Americans own mutual funds within their workplace retirement plans. For tax-deferred accounts like an IRA, 401(k), or even a Cash Balance Plan, tax efficiency is not an issue for the underlying investments.

You can lose money in a mutual fund and still get hit with substantial capital gains taxes; this is called Phantom Income. As other investors sell their mutual funds’ shares, other owners can get hit with capital gains distributions throughout the year.

In this scenario, you could almost think of this as playing hot potato- someone gets left holding the proverbial bag of hot potatoes- capital gains. Vanguard funds were recently sued for the amount of capital gains a move it made created for owners of their Target Date funds in taxable accounts.

The capital gain distribution was 12.1% of fund assets in 2021. This resulted in substantial tax bills for many of the account holders.

It is rare for ETFs to pass along any capital gains to shareholders. Most active mutual funds will disperse capital gains each year. Before you run out and sell your highly appreciated mutual funds, look at the taxes you would incur to sell. If you have held mutual funds for long periods of time, you may have substantial embedded capital gains. In plain English, it could cost a lot of money to sell out of the funds.

If you have highly appreciated mutual funds, consider turning off the automatic reinvestment of capital gains and dividends. This will allow you to reinvest the future funds more tax efficiently in ETFs. The same would go for future contributions to your account being used to purchase ETFs rather than mutual funds in your taxable investment accounts.
While I don’t have a crystal ball, I do expect taxes to be higher in the future. As your income increases and as tax rates increase, the value of tax planning and tax-efficient investment grows exponentially.


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Meet the cheapest US states to buy a house

A new study analyzing Zillow data has found that the monthly median sale price of a house last year was more than $500,000 in Utah, California and Colorado — and more than a staggering $800,000 in Hawaii.

The study, conducted by Studio City realtors, found that Hawaii clocked in as the most expensive state in the U.S. for homebuyers. On the island, the average home price was $805,775 — hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the cheapest state on the list.

Studio City realtor Tony Mariotti noted that market turbulence contributed to a “significant increase” in house prices across the U.S.

Home prices went up nationwide in February after months of declines amid low inventory and a small uptick in demand — and experts have said they expect affordability will continue to be a problem for prospective homebuyers in the months ahead.

Here are the priciest and cheapest U.S. states to buy a home:

The most expensive states to buy a home
Eight states and Washington, D.C., saw a monthly median sale price of a house last year of $400,000 or higher, with Oregon sitting at that exact figure.

Washington state, Nevada, Montana and Washington, D.C., came in between $402,900 and $487,500.

California, Colorado and Hawaii were the top three most expensive, at $537,000, $537,125 and $805,775 in monthly median sale prices last year, respectively.

Costs differed in different areas within states: for example, the median monthly sale price of a house last year in California’s cheapest city of Red Bluff was $320,000 — while the ticket in its most expensive city of San Jose was $1,370,000.

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Don’t just hug a tree this Arbor Day — plant one, too

Nearly five years ago, Hurricane Michael became the first Category 5 storm to hit the United States in 25 years. It left a trail of destruction in its wake, and my community of Panama City — located in the Florida Panhandle — was hit especially hard. Since then, working together as neighbors and citizens, we’ve made significant progress in key recovery areas, including rebuilding key and vital infrastructure, enhancing quality of life, developing our downtown, and attracting new businesses across a mix of industries. However, one of our most important recovery efforts lies within our tree canopy restoration — an often overlooked but vital area of disaster recovery and prevention.

When Hurricane Michael uprooted nearly 80 percent of Panama City’s trees — approximately a million trees, generating 5.7 million cubic yards of debris within the city — it created serious challenges. Not only did we lose the beautiful canopy from 100-year-old oak trees, but the vital function of the trees was lost, the first of which was the absorption of groundwater. The loss of so many trees significantly increased the risk of flooding in our community,

where we now experience flooding in areas that haven’t typically flooded in the 114-year history of the city. The second function lost from the lack of trees is shade.

Trees serve to mitigate the urban heat island effect, where an entire city is warmed by concrete being heated by the sun. These increased temperatures not only result in uncomfortably hot weather but can also lead to other extreme weather events like wildfires. Since the storm, Panama City has experienced increased flooding whenever thunderstorms roll through, in addition to wildfires that consumed over 40,000 acres last year – both due in part to the damaged tree canopy and loss of trees.

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The problems facing VA modernization are bigger than its software systems

The list of criticisms of the new Veterans Affairs (VA) electronic health record system, Oracle Cerner, is long.

Thousands of doctors’ orders went missing, putting patient safety at risk. Its downtime has been high compared to the old system, though it has improved. The new system is expensive: $16 billion so far, up from the $10 billion originally estimated. And, so far, it has been rolled out at just five of the VA’s 171 sites.

One of the problems is that the old record system, VistA, has its own lengthy list of reasons why it cannot continue to serve as the main software for VA hospitals. VistA was coded in Mumps, a computer language so old that few programmers are available to work on it. This old system is also not cloud-based, and cloud-based systems are now standard. And each VA location has customized VistA for its own particular needs, which means that each system is, in its way, unique, and interoperability is not-at-all simple.

Even those who still love VistA concede that sticking with the old software is not a long-term solution. And even in the short-term, VistA is expensive to maintain, costing $900 million for this purpose just last year. So VA has been sinking money into two different electronic health record systems, each one broken in its own way.

As of last Friday, VA has called for a complete reset of the modernization program and a halt to any further Oracle Cerner rollouts.

How did this implementation go so wrong? And what should be done now?

Electronic health record (EHR) implementations often take a long time and go over budget. And while the VA implementation of its new EHR software has been challenging for a number of reasons, all of these reasons could be, and indeed were, anticipated.

VA is unique in its geographical breadth — most EHR rollouts occur in a single health care system that is physically situated in one state, not across 50. Most EHRs, including the new Oracle Cerner system, are designed around billing, which is not a focus for providers in VA hospitals. The VA patient population is also different than the general public, with different frequencies of disease (more PTSD and missing limbs; less pregnancy and pediatric care), and it requires management of referrals and care outside the VA system.

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