How Tax Loss Harvesting Works

Investors choose investments with the highest returns to generate the maximum income possible. However, they must also consider the tax implications associated with these earnings. Therefore, they must employ tax strategies that allow them to minimize the impact of tax payments. One such strategy that investors use is tax-loss harvesting.

What is Tax Loss Harvesting?

Tax-loss harvesting is a strategy that investors use to minimize their taxes on capital gains. Usually, the higher an investment value goes, the more capital gains it will generate. While these gains are taxable, they are not similar to income taxes. On top of that, investors can also make capital losses on their investments when their value falls. For these losses, investors can also get deductions and exemptions.

Tax-loss harvesting works by using capital losses to offset capital gains to reduce taxes. When investors have high capital gains, they may deliberately sell investments that generate losses. Then, they use these losses to offset the gains from other investments. This way, they can reduce the tax on their returns. In most cases, investors also replace the loss-making investment with similar investments if they expect growth in the future.

How does Tax Loss Harvesting work?

Unlike income taxes, investors don’t have to pay capital gain taxes when they earn them. Instead, investors only account for capital gain taxes when they sell an asset. For most investors, these gains are the primary return they expect from their investment. In some cases, these capital gains may be significantly high. Therefore, investors use strategies, such as tax-loss harvesting, to reduce the taxes they pay on those gains.

Once an investor realizes a substantial capital gain on an investment, they may also sell another asset on capital losses. In most jurisdictions, investors can use these losses to offset the capital gains and pay taxes on the residual amount. Therefore, investors can significantly decrease their taxes for such investments.

For tax-loss harvesting to be successful, investors need to have investments that realize capital losses. However, no investor deliberately invests in these assets. Most investors keep investments with capital losses with an expectation for future benefits. Therefore, through tax harvesting, they may lose any potential benefits on the capital loss asset. However, some investors reinvest their money in similar investments while still benefiting from the tax-loss harvesting.

What are the risks associated with Tax Loss Harvesting?

Tax-loss harvesting can be a crucial strategy when it comes to tax planning. However, there are some risks associated with it. If not used properly, tax-loss harvesting can be detrimental to investors. Firstly, investors may risk losing potential gains on the asset they sell to offset capital gains. As mentioned, investors do not reinvest in the same asset as the tax rules prohibit it. It is known as the wash-sale rule.

Similarly, there are some limits for how much capital losses investors can use. In some jurisdictions, investors can also carry over their capital losses. However, if they don’t utilize those on time, they may risk losing any benefits from such losses. On top of that, selling investments and reinvesting in similar assets may come with costs that investors may need to consider.


Investors need to pay capital gain taxes when they dispose of investments that have experienced a growth in value. If these capital gains are significant, they can use tax-loss harvesting to reduce them. Tax-loss harvesting is a strategy in which investors sell an investment with a capital loss. Then, they use these losses to offset the capital gains from another asset.

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