Author Topic: Betterment Tax-Loss-Harvesting and Company 401k. Avoid accidental wash sales?  (Read 1875 times)


  • Stubble
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  • Posts: 173

I have 3 accounts. My 401k, wife's 401k, and Betterment.

I'm worried that Betterment will accidentally introduce wash sales because it doesn't know about the 401k's.

My 401k: 50/50 vanguard mid / small cap index fund (vscix / vmcix)
Wife 401k: 20xx target date retirement
Betterment: 100% stock allocation portfolio (including vbr / voe).

Is it possible for betterment to do something that gets counted as a wash sale. Are vscix / vbr different enough to count as different funds? How can I avoid any potential problems here?


  • Bristles
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  • Posts: 256
I ask a similar question to schwab. I was told that technically the wash sale rule applies to all accounts you hold, but practically it was non-issue because schwab doesn't report any sales inside TD-retirement accounts to the IRS.  A quick google search confirmed the same.

If you want to be super careful you can have a look at the ETFs use.  Keep in mind they likely have 2-3 different ETFs per asset class, and that the wash sale rule is based on the index that the ETF tracks not the ETF itself.


  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 173
Still looking for help guys.

Bases on kenaces answer,
I confirmed that both Betterment, and my 401k are tracking the same indexes (CRSP small / mid cap indexes). This isn't ideal.

New questions:
kenaces mentions schwab doesn't report to the IRS in retirement accounts. Betterment isn't a retirement acct, just a normal taxable account. And for now, Betterment would be the only account making any sales. Do you I need to check that fidelity (401k) won't report any purchases within the retirement (401k) account?   

Would I be better off switching out the 401k funds back into a target year fund to make sure it can't interfere with betterment? I'd really rather keep the higher return, lower fee vanguard funds if possible.


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