What is tax-loss harvesting, and how can it lower your tax bill?

Five reasons not to be fearful of inflation
Key takeaways
Lower your tax bill

Tax-loss harvesting can potentially lower your tax bill by using portfolio losses to offset gains.

Improve your portfolio

An underperforming investment can be replaced with one that is expected to deliver better returns.

Consider ETFs

Invesco has over 200 ETFs across asset classes to consider as potential replacement options.

No one wants an investment to lose money. But if you have an underperforming investment, there’s a potential bright side. Your capital losses may be used to help reduce the tax bill on your capital gains in a process called tax-loss harvesting. What is tax-loss harvesting, and how does it work? 

Tax-loss harvesting is a strategy for managing a portfolio. An investor sells an investment at a loss to offset gains and taxable income, resulting in tax savings. The sold investment is then replaced with a similar one to maintain the intended asset allocation and expected potential returns.

Here’s how it works.

1. Sell investment for a loss

This step is as simple as it sounds: Sell an underperforming investment— such as an individual stock, a mutual fund, or an ETF — for less than you purchased it.

2. Harvest the investment loss

Here’s where your investment losses can potentially be beneficial: You can use your losses to offset the capital gains on another investment, helping to reduce your tax obligations. If you have more losses than gains, you can use up to $3,000 to offset the taxes on the gains.

Don't have any gains? That's okay. You can still use your losses to offset the taxes on your ordinary income, up to $3,000 in the current year.

Did you lose more than $3,000? You can carry over your losses into future tax years in $3,000 increments.

3. Replace your investment

By selling your underperforming investment, you now have cash to invest in something else. The key phrase here is “something else.”

If you sell a security and harvest a tax loss on that sale, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) prohibits you from buying a “substantially identical” security within 30 days before or after the sale of your losing investment. (This is called the “wash sale” rule.)

However, that doesn’t mean you have to buy an investment in a completely different industry. For example, if you sold tech stock to harvest a tax loss — but still want tech exposure — you could potentially buy an ETF focused on the tech industry. (Just make sure to consult your tax advisor first.)

Invesco ETFs could potentially be an efficient replacement investment option. We have over 220 ETFs, and 99% of our equity ETFs haven’t made a capital gain distribution in the last five years.1


If you’re faced with an underperforming investment, talk to your financial professional and your tax advisor. Tax-loss harvesting may be the right strategy for you.

Next steps

View our tax-loss harvesting reference guide.

Align your goals with our ETF solutions.


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    Source: Invesco, as of 3/31/24. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.