Author Topic: Betterment and Tax Loss Harvesting  (Read 1856 times)

jabell

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Betterment and Tax Loss Harvesting
« on: February 08, 2016, 05:09:48 PM »
I started using Betterment over 1yr ago.  One of the selling points that caught my attention was their Tax Loss Harvesting service.  I am not so sure about Betterment anymore at this point.  As far as I understand after reading Betterment’s Tax Loss Harvesting page http://support.betterment.com/customer/portal/articles/1595496-can-i-still-use-tax-loss-harvesting-if-i-have-overlapping-securities-in-other-accounts-what-are-those-overlapping-securities-?_ga=1.223827353.323003068.1434660648 and after speaking with customer support on two separate occasions it doesn’t seem like I can use this service.
 In my 403B nontaxable account I have holdings that track the same indexes as my Betterment taxable account which according to Betterment will trigger a wash sale with the IRS if I buy more in my 403b holdings while utilizing the Tax Loss Harvest option at Betterment.  It would be easy for me to simply not invest more in those 403b holdings for the time being, but from what I understand if I receive interest or dividends in my 403b holdings this will trigger the wash sale as well because it will be reinvested in holdings that track the same indexes being sold at a loss in the taxable Betterment account.

After speaking with customer service at Betterment, both times they recommended me to go meet with a tax adviser.   I didn’t sign up at Betterment because they advertised “We recommend our customers meet with tax advisers”.  I signed up at Betterment because of the advertised ease of a no hassle robo adviser.
What are other people doing in this scenario besides getting out of Betterment?

GrowingTheGreen

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Re: Betterment and Tax Loss Harvesting
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2016, 08:12:49 PM »
This is very intriguing to me.  I was just reading their white paper on tax loss harvesting.  After doing my taxes this year, I was seriously considering going with them just for the TLH.  I didn't like the extra fee they charge, cause I can beat it, but the TLH would have been worth it.

Could you share which funds are in your 403b?  It would help people like me figure out if this will apply in our case.

jabell

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Re: Betterment and Tax Loss Harvesting
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2016, 09:48:32 AM »
In our 403B there are 27 different investment options.  I am invested in 5 of the 27 options available.  3 of the 5 options I am invested in can trigger a wash sale, from what I now understand. 

The 3 options are: 
1.  VITSX
2.  VSGIX 
3.  FXSTX

VITSX tracks the performance of CRSP
VSGIX tracks the performance of CRSP
FXSTX normally investing at least 80% of the fund's assets in bonds included in the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index

If you view Betterment primary and alternate securities at the website listed below you can see they track CRSP and Barclays.
https://www.betterment.com/resources/research/tax-loss-harvesting-white-paper/?_ga=1.257997960.323003068.1434660648#etftable


mizchief

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Re: Betterment and Tax Loss Harvesting
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2016, 04:22:05 PM »
Can you switch to other index funds in your 403(b)  that track different indexes?  Do you have one that tracks SP500 that can be augmented with a smaller cap index to reconstitute the total market?

Alternatively, can you just put your taxable in Vanguard and do TLH yourself?  It's pretty easy.  There are a lot of index funds that will give you similar results but are not exactly the same.  Check out the bogleheads forum.  Lots of information there about DIY TLH.