By Bill Canty
Asset location pertains to the types of investment assets that are best held in various types of accounts. Asset location is a tax minimization strategy that matches various types of investments with the type of account best suited for that type of investment holding.
Asset location is about strategically holding investments in accounts where you are likely to achieve the highest after-tax returns. This includes taxable investment accounts, tax-deferred accounts such as a traditional IRA or 401(k), or tax-free accounts which are usually Roth accounts.
Due to the nature of dividends, interest, or capital gains connected with certain types of investments, it might be most tax-efficient to hold them in one type of account versus another. This is the essence of asset location.
While it is not always possible to align your entire portfolio in a perfect fashion in terms of asset location for each holding, it does make sense to pay attention to this when deciding which investment holdings fit best into your various accounts.
The following types of holdings can be well-suited for a taxable account:
• Municipal bonds or mutual funds holding muni bonds. The interest on these bonds is exempt from federal income taxes, and in some cases from state taxes if they are issued by an entity in the state in which you reside.
• Individual stocks that you plan to hold for a year or more. After this time period, any capital gains from the sale of the shares will be taxed at preferential long-term capital gains rates.