Understanding Tax-Loss Harvesting

2 min readPublished Jan 29, 2024

Discover how tax-loss harvesting, a strategic investment approach, can manage taxes efficiently in your portfolio by offsetting capital gains and income.

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Tax-loss harvesting is an investment strategy designed to improve tax efficiency by selling securities at a loss and replacing them with similar investments. This strategy offsets taxes on both capital gains and, up to $3,000 annually, ordinary income.

Understanding Tax-Loss Harvesting

This strategy utilizes the tax code’s provisions for offsetting capital gains with losses, aiding in portfolio rebalancing and tax minimization.

Key Points

  • Offset Gains and Income: It offsets both capital gains and a portion of ordinary income.
  • Wash-Sale Rule: Investors must avoid buying “substantially identical” securities within 30 days before or after the sale.
  • Timing and Market Risks: Commonly executed towards the end of the financial year, with a consideration of market timing risks.

How It Works

Investors sell securities at a loss and buy similar but not identical securities, maintaining the portfolio’s exposure while realizing a tax loss.


Selling a stock at a $5,000 loss and buying a similar stock offsets capital gains by $5,000. It’s crucial to avoid purchasing substantially identical stocks to comply with the wash-sale rule.


  • Tax Reduction: It lowers tax liabilities on capital gains.
  • Enhanced Returns: Potentially improves net investment performance after taxes.
  • Strategic Investment: Facilitates strategic reallocation in the portfolio.

Considerations and Limitations

It’s vital to consider transaction costs, investment strategy alignment, and adhere to the wash-sale rule. Integrating tax-loss harvesting with overall tax planning is essential for maximizing benefits.

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