5 Tax Planning Strategies to Implement in a Down Stock Market

January 26, 2016 | Authored by Albert A. Nigro CPA, CVA


January 26, 2016 – Most investment advisors will tell you that a down stock market presents a buying “opportunity”. While that may be true, a down market definitely provides a tax savings opportunity. Here are some strategies to consider:

Contributing to a Retirement Plan

Taxpayers’ can contribute fixed dollar amounts to retirement accounts, including IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401(k)s and Roth 401(k)s. As a result, taxpayers who put money in when values are lower can reap tax-free growth when markets rebound. Now is a good time to contribute to 2015 IRAs and Roth IRAs, as contributions can be made up to this April’s tax-filing date.

Converting to a Roth IRA

Roth IRA’s provide the ultimate benefit in tax-favored retirement plans: Both asset growth and withdrawals are tax-free, and the owner doesn’t have to take required payouts starting at age 70½.

The law now allows all IRA owners to convert accounts to Roth IRAs—but income taxes are due on the switch. Converting to a Roth when asset values are down can lower the tax bill.

What if markets drop further? Unusually, the law allows owners to reverse a Roth conversion up to the October tax-filing date of the year after the conversion. So, taxpayers who convert this year have until Oct. 16, 2017 to undo it.

Reversing a Roth Conversion

Are values lower than when you did a Roth conversion last year? You have until Oct. 17, 2016 to reverse it and avoid paying more tax than necessary.

Tax Loss Harvesting

Investors who sell losing positions held in taxable accounts receive capital losses they can use to offset capital gains on the sales of other assets, reducing future taxes on their winners. Although such losses can’t offset gains from sales in earlier years, they do carry forward indefinitely for future use. Investors can also deduct up to $3,000 of capital losses against ordinary income (such as wages) annually.

Investors can also capture losses from holdings that the investor still wants to own. Here the investor sells shares to book a loss and immediately repurchases a similar security so as not to miss out on a rebound. Investors can’t repurchase shares in the original investment for 30 days, or the benefit of the loss will be postponed.

Gifts of Assets

For people who want to gift investment assets, a market decline means the ability to transfer more for the same gift tax cost, which could be zero.

Sorting it Out

We know your probably focused on your 2015 tax filing, but given the current market conditions, it’s a good time to start planning for 2016. Contact Al Nigro at anigro@dopkins.com or your Dopkins Tax Advisor to discuss how we can find a silver lining in the clouds of a down market.

About the Author

Albert A. Nigro CPA, CVA

Albert A. Nigro CPA, CVA is a partner in the Tax Advisory Group of Dopkins & Company, LLP. As the leader of Dopkins CAAS team, he focuses on developing solutions for clients to help them improve their finance and accounting functions through re-engineered processes, digital transformation and optimal utilization of talent.

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