It's not just real estate where location is key. To avoid adding to their clients' tax burdens, tax planners make sure to place income-producing investments, such as bonds and real estate investment trusts, in tax-sheltered accounts, including 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts.
The income from those investments is taxed as ordinary income and could push a taxpayer into the higher categories if they are hovering on the edge. But when it's in a retirement account, no tax is owed until the funds are withdrawn (or in the case of Roth IRAs, no tax will ever be owed after the contributions are made).
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Last year Benson analyzed the tax efficiency of one client's investments and found that the client had a hedge fund that Benson calls "horribly tax inefficient."
"The performance wasn't very good to begin with, but when you looked at the after-tax performance, it looked even worse," he said.
He recommended selling the hedge fund and moving other income-generating investments into retirement accounts while keeping stocks in taxable brokerage accounts.