Lessons Learned in 2014

In 2014, US stocks forged ahead, international developed and emerging-market stocks lagged, bonds did better than expected, and the IRS took a bigger bite. Here are some lessons for US investors to carry forward into 2015.

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Get Smart About Giving

With the year-end drawing near, many US taxpayers are starting to think about how much to give to tax-deductible causes. But too often, even financially sophisticated people miss a simple way to boost the tax benefit from their charitable donations: by giving appreciated securities, rather than cash.

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Investing for Tax-Efficient Portfolio Income

Tara Thompson Popernik (pictured) and Robert Dietz With tax-exempt income from US municipal bond portfolios still near historic lows, investors spending from their portfolios can no longer get the income they need by simply increasing their allocation to high-quality, intermediate-duration bonds. As a result, many investors today are chasing yield into dangerous territory.

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Avoiding Short-Term Gains

Want to reduce tax on your investment income? Avoid sales of appreciated stocks held less than a year. Here’s how it might have helped some disappointed Facebook shareholders earlier this year.

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A Nice Problem to Have (and Some Partial Solutions)

 Paul Robertson and Tara Thompson Popernik Many taxable US investors will face higher capital gains tax bills for 2014 than for 2013, although market returns are likely to be more modest. The reason isn’t higher tax rates: US tax rates were up in 2013, too. The reason is large capital gains and limited losses.

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What’s the Safest Investment Strategy?

Seth J. Masters and John McLaughlin Many investors with little appetite for risk think cash is the safest asset class. After all, if you have no investments, you have no investment risk. That’s true enough, but it’s reassuring only if you ignore inflation and taxes.  And of course, most individuals do pay taxes and everyone [...]

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What Tax Strategies Make Sense for You?

Many investors adopt tax-reducing strategies from year to year without taking a step back to look at the big picture. But how you save or spend money today can have a profound impact on your after-tax wealth over the long term and, ultimately, on your legacy.

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What Your Parents Didn’t Tell You About Saving for Retirement

Chances are, your parents have told you to max out your 401(k) plan. That’s good advice, but the hard truth is that your 401(k) plan is highly likely to fall short. To live comfortably in retirement, our research shows, you will almost surely need more.

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How Tax Savings from a College Savings Plan Could Pay for a Year of College

The option to front-load funding makes a tax-deferred college savings plan is a great way to avoid taxes on the future growth of funds earmarked for higher-education expenses. We project that the taxes avoided over a 10-year savings horizon could pay for a full year of college.

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The Future’s Still Bright for College Grads

Is college worth it? It’s not an uncommon question these days, especially with soaring college costs, ballooning student debt levels and higher unemployment. But research shows that pursuing a college degree can result in far more than just a diploma.

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