More About Mutual Funds and Taxes

BY RICHARD P. SNYDER

“A Taxing Problem” ( JofA, May00, page 51) discussed the need for investors and their accountants to consider the impact taxes have on their total returns earned in mutual funds. The article provided some practical advice for executing sound tax strategies (for example, to avoid purchasing a mutual fund just before it is due to make a capital gains distribution).

However, one item is incorrect: “Most fund managers tend to sell stocks with the lowest cost basis…to boost returns.” Although I’m not sure that most fund managers tend to sell stocks with the lowest cost basis, I am certain that the tax lots they sell have no impact on a fund’s total return. Selecting different tax lots affects the character of the gain, not the amount. In this instance, “character” categorizes gains as either realized or unrealized. Therefore, the total return of a fund, as currently calculated on a pretax basis, is not affected by tax lot selection. The pretax total return of a fund will be the same regardless of the tax lot selection method (for example, FIFO or specific identification).

It should be noted that when aftertax returns are required, the tax lot selection will affect the fund’s aftertax return.

Richard P. Snyder
Milwaukee

SPONSORED REPORT

Why cybercriminals are targeting CPAs

This free report expands on the most commonly found scams, why education and specialized IT knowledge help to lessen security vulnerabilities, and why every firm should plan carefully for how it would respond to a breach.

PODCAST

How tax reform will impact individual taxpayers

Amy Wang, a CPA who is a senior technical manager for tax advocacy at the AICPA, answers to some of the most common questions on how the new tax reform law will impact individual taxpayers.