Originally Posted by modhatter
.... Supose you have a $3,000 loss with a Dodge Cox International Fund and a $3,000 gain with lets say Wellington. If the gain in the Wellington fund is due to stocks rising, can the stock portion of that fund be offset by the loss from the Dodge Cox Fund when you sell both fund?
Whenever you sell funds held in taxable accounts in the same tax year, the sales are reported on your Schedule D and the net capital gain/loss is figured and reported. So you can do what you wrote, but I do not see why you would want to do so. If you just sold the stock fund with a loss, then your would have a net capital loss that could be deducted against ordinary income. Since ordinary (i.e. not a capital gain) income is taxed at a higher rate than a long term capital gain, you want your losses to offset ordinary income if you can (there is a $3000 limit, any more is carried over to the next tax year). If you can use stock losses to reduce ordinary income, maybe you can even convert rollover IRAs to Roth IRA at a lower tax rate.
And likewise, say if you have two income or two dividend equity funds. If they are the same type of funds can you tax harvest between them?
If you have 2 funds of the same type, they will very likely have similar returns. That is, when one fund has a losing year, the other fund will have a losing year as well. You could tax-loss harvest between them, but you must make your trades to avoid a wash sale if you want to deduct the loss that year on your taxes.
Perhaps a more realistic scenario might be something like this:
1. Buy shares of VEU (an international fund) in January and July.
2. In December note that your January shares have a gain, but your July shares have a loss.
3. Sell the shares bought in July to book the loss, use the proceeds to buy VEA (an international fund). Now you own both VEU and VEA. You cannot buy more VEU until 31 days after you sold VEU. So in February buy more VEU. If the VEA has a gain, so no reason to sell it. If it has a loss, you should sell it and book the loss and use the proceeds to buy VEU.
You continue to own VEU and VEA with gains essentially forever.
Since every year you sell any position with a loss, eventually you will have no losing positions to sell, but only gains. When you need to sell a fund, only sell a fund with a long term gain. You may still have carry over losses to offset the gain.
In the past 18 months there were many tax-loss harvesting opportunities for holders of stock funds in taxable accounts. I have a large amount for my carryover loss, so that I won't be paying any capital gains taxes for years. I will be offsetting $3000 of ordinary income each year for quite some time.