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Your Question

How can I keep my investment taxes down?
Suggestions on how to keep Uncle Sam from turning your pockets inside out.

Jason's Answers

The dark side of the muni
09/21/2004: Money Magazine
Municipal bonds seem safe, but buying or selling them is fraught with peril. Protect yourself.

Mutual Competition
08/01/2000: Money Magazine, Vol. 29 No. 8
Are the new rivals to traditional funds – like folios and exchange traded funds (ETFs) -- a better bet?

Performance Review: Part 1
07/18/2000: money.com
I've been answering your questions in Mutual Fund Mailbag for just about a year now, and I think I've gotten things mostly right. Just to be sure, though, I've asked some of the investing world's top minds for their two cents. In this three-part series, I square off with Vanguard's John Bogle, efficient-market theorist William Bernstein, and finance professor Terrance Odean on the issues you've written in most about. This week: Bogle beats me up.

When index funds don't work
05/24/2000: money.com
Passive investing almost always beats active management. There are cases, though, when it just doesn't add up. (See also July 18, 2000.)

Prodigal son
05/08/2000: money.com
Many investors have strayed in search of tech-sized returns, but repentant sinners can get back on the true path. (See also August 1, 2000.)

How many funds are enough?
09/17/1999: money.com
Jason explains why most investors shouldn't own more than a handful of mutual funds.

“Expert Q&A”
08/01/1999: morningstar.com
In this online chat, Jason fields questions from Morningstar users about everything from stock-picking “systems” to index funds, how and why to use a broker, investing in corporate bankruptcies, saving for college, the fine points of bond funds, and the ethics of financial journalism. [Conversation 676: in the “Jump to #” box, enter 676]

Are Index Funds a Tax Disaster Waiting to Happen?
07/20/1999: money.com
In his online mailbox, Money Magazine's mutual funds columnist, Jason Zweig, has gotten several letters warning that index funds are ticking tax time bombs waiting to blow their shareholders to bits in the next market decline. Should you worry?

Mutual Fund Tax Bombs
07/01/1999: Money Magazine, Vol. 28 No. 7
How to run up a $10,000 tax bill without even trying

Why Do Mutual Funds Cost So Much?
06/01/1995: Morningstar Investment Conference
In this speech, Jason told the history of rising expenses over the years and reviewed – then dismantled – the fund industry’s justifications for the ever-higher flood of costs. If you want to learn more about how high fund expenses are, how they got there, and what to do about them, you may find that this speech (given while Jason was the mutual funds editor at Forbes) remains a useful resource.

A Nasty 401(k) Surprise
01/01/2005: Money Magazine
If you hold most of your stocks inside a retirement plan, you could be handing Uncle Sam more than his fair share of taxes.

Don\'t Get Caught in This Big Year-End Tax Trap
12/01/1995: Money Magazine
How to avoid a common investing mistake, and some winners and losers.

How You Can Avoid the Worst Year-End Mutual Fund Mistake: Giving Uncle Sam a Handout
11/01/1996: Money Magazine
Tips on steering clear of big mutual-fund tax bills at the end of the year.

Tax Angles for Fund Investors
11/01/1998: Money Magazine
Act now to lock in the losses and duck the distributions: a year-end guide.

Psyching Yourself up to Let Losers Go
08/23/2008: The Wall Street Journal
When you buy and hold, you don`t have to use a death grip

Giving Your Portfolio a Year-End Face Lift
12/06/2008: The Wall Street Journal
Some ways to turn a market crash to your advantage.

Muni-Bond Bargains: The Devil’s in the Details
01/31/2009: The Wall Street Journal
Municipal bonds have been left for dead in the market, but you must shop wisely.

After the Crash, Stocks May Face Long Road Back
02/26/2009: The Wall Street Journal
The markets will recover, but that recovery will probably take longer than many investors imagine.

Tempest-Tossed? Take Some Control
03/04/2009: The Wall Street Journal
Instead of plunging in and out with both feet, take some baby steps.

Should You Buy Municipal Bonds Individually or in a Fund?
02/03/2009: The Wall Street Journal Online
A blog post on how to tell how you should own munis.

Transferring Wealth via the Bank of Mom and Dad
10/03/2009: The Wall Street Journal
Today`s low interest rates make some estate-planning techniques unusually attractive.

Watch Out for Hidden Tax Traps Inside ETFs
04/17/2010: The Wall Street Journal
A look at the tricky tax rules on commodity and currency ETFs.

Volatility Is Your Friend
05/15/2010: The Wall Street Journal
Strategies that can turn market crashes into opportunities. (A news story with Kelly Greene, Laura Saunders, Anne Tergesen and Jane Kim.)

Look Before You Reap: Tax-Loss Harvesting Can Backfire
12/11/2010: The Wall Street Journal
Selling at a loss for the tax break can be trickier than it looks.

How Long Will the Tax Break on Municipal Bonds Last?
05/07/2011: The Wall Street Journal
Will Congress make tax-free bonds taxable?

Flash Tax: Why Levies on High-Speed Trading Won`t Work
09/03/2011: The Wall Street Journal
Transaction taxes have a long history -- of failing to serve their purpose.

For Muni Investors, November May Be a No-No
11/04/2011: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
Research suggests that municipal bonds tend to be unduly cheap in November and December.

Make the Tax Man Wait!
11/17/2012: The Wall Street Journal
Should you sell your winning stocks before capital-gains taxes go up?

No Easy Money in Munis
12/01/2012: The Wall Street Journal
A flood of money fleeing higher tax rates has driven up the prices of municipal bonds.

How to Owe Capital-Gains Taxes Without Even Trying
01/19/2013: The Wall Street Journal
The rare phenomenon of `corporate inversions` can lead investors to incur taxable capital gains when they don`t even sell stock.

Other Resources

Efficient Frontier

Link to William J. Bernstein's "Efficient Frontier" online newsletter, where he serves up opinion that is, at one and the same time, both biting and mathematically rigorous, both challenging and fun to read. Full of righteous anger at the knaves and nincompoops who dish out most financial advice, Bernstein is an invigorating breath of fresh air.

Bogle Financial Markets Research Center

This site, featuring John C. Bogle's speeches and research papers, enables you to keep up with the latest thinking of the founder of the Vanguard Group. Jack Bogle is probably the best friend the individual investor has ever had, and the materials archived here are rich with insights into how the money management business really works and how you can take control of your own financial destiny.

Return to Your Questions by Topic

JasonZweig.com is my place to tell you what I think about a whole lot of investing stuff. I’m the only one responsible for my opinions, but I can’t guarantee they’ll always be right. If you don’t like what I say or it turns out to be wrong, I’m sorry; you can’t sue me. The material you find here is not meant as specific investing advice for you, and if you use it that way and something goes wrong, that’s your problem, not mine. To get individualized investing advice, you need to do your own homework or else hire a financial advisor, a tax professional, or a lawyer to do it for you (and even then, you’d better watch like a hawk!). If you think anything on this website is an invitation for you to buy or sell any investment, you need to get your head examined. What’s more, I’m not soliciting business of any kind, because I don’t have any business to solicit. (Believe it or not, I don’t want your money.) I’ll do my best to avoid any conflicts of interest in running this website, but I don’t have silvery wings and a halo, and somebody might manage to corrupt me. If that happens, it’s your job to notice and to be disgusted by it. In short, none of my best efforts to be honest, sensible, and trustworthy exempt you from your constant duties to treat what I say with the same skepticism you should treat anyone’s pontification about investing. I wish you good luck!

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