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News

Loyola Corners economics, traffic rise to top of planning concerns

Loyola Corners economics, traffic rise to top of planning concerns

Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Loyola Bridge construction parallel to the Fremont Avenue frontage may lead officials to alter circulation plans for the area.

Loyola Corners stakeholders last week mulled the issues that will likely shape the area&rsquo...

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Schools

LAHS Green Team commemorates Earth Week

LAHS Green Team commemorates Earth Week


Traci Newell/Town Crier
Los Altos High School Green Team members, above, quiz their classmates about water conservation. The club distributed plants as prizes during the club’s Earth Week activities.

Members of the Los Altos High School Green...

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Community

Local pianist, 11, slated to perform Saturday at statewide competition

Local pianist, 11, slated to perform Saturday at statewide competition


Courtesy of the Cha family
Spencer Cha plays piano at a Santa Clara University recital. The sixth-grader also enjoys soccer, tennis, golf and skiing.

Spencer Cha has come a long way since he first sat down at the piano at age 2.

“I remem...

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Sports

Spartans net second place, eye top prize next season

Spartans net second place, eye top prize next season


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Jeremy Hsu, Mountain View High’s top singles player, competes against Pinewood Thursday. The Spartans won the match 7-0.

With freshmen playing the top three spots in singles, the future of the Mountain View High boy...

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Comment

Los Altos at a leadership crossroads: Editorial

Don’t look now, but there could be some major changes ahead regarding how the Los Altos city government is run.

The current city council has the opportunity to hire a new city manager in the wake of Marcia Somers’ recent resignation. Fur...

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Special Sections

How to personalize the wedding bar

How to personalize the wedding bar


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
A seasonal signature cocktail adds interest beyond the standard wedding bar’s spirits and mixers. Focus on one set of fresh ingredients, such as blueberries, blackberries and mint for a dose of budget...

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Business

Farmers prepare to market season's bounty

Farmers prepare to market season's bounty


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Journeyman farmer Jen Friedlander waters Hidden Villa’s greenhouse plants, which will grow stronger in the controlled indoor environment before being transferred to the field outdoors.

Around Hidden Villa, the gree...

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People

BUOL JOANNE DOUGHERTY

BUOL JOANNE DOUGHERTY

1930-2016

Heaven gained a beautiful angel today. Our beloved mother’s blessed life ended in her Los Altos home surrounded by her loving family on April 18, 2016.

Buol Joanne Dougherty was born Sept. 28, 1930 in Chicago. At the age of two, M...

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Stepping Out

'Catch' comes to conclusion LA Stage Co. comedy  ends run this weekend

'Catch' comes to conclusion LA Stage Co. comedy ends run this weekend


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
Bryan Moriarty, left, stars as Yossarian and John Stephen King plays the Psychiatrist in Los Altos Stage Company’s “Catch-22.”

Los Altos Stage Company’s presentation of “Catch...

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Spiritual Life

Tax gain harvesting a good strategy to avoid fiscal cliff

 

You may be familiar with the term “tax loss harvesting.” Toward the end of each year, many investors routinely sell assets such as stocks or mutual funds with embedded losses to offset the current taxes they will have to pay on gains from other assets.

This strategy generally works well during periods of steady or declining tax rates. However, if you really wanted to keep those stocks or funds and sold them solely for the purpose of taking tax losses, you would need to buy them back immediately after selling them.

The IRS doesn’t appreciate investors executing this maneuver for the sole purpose of deferring taxes. So they require you to wait 31 days or more before repurchasing the asset (or a substantially identical asset), otherwise they will add the loss to your cost basis and treat the sale as if it never happened. This is the wash sale rule and complying with it can make this strategy a bit tricky to execute.

This year we are facing the so-called fiscal cliff. Among other things, the 15 percent long-term capital gains tax rate has the potential to increase to 20 percent if Congress fails to restore some or all of the tax cuts set to expire Dec. 31. In addition, married taxpayers with incomes more than $250,000 will see their capital-gains tax rate go up an additional 3.8 percent to fund the Affordable Care Act (this one is a sure thing). Under these circumstances, tax loss harvesting probably doesn’t make sense. But you can do the reverse (tax gain harvesting), and it’s completely acceptable to the IRS.

The strategy involves selling assets with embedded long-term gains before the end of 2012, then immediately buying them back. The gains accumulated since the assets were originally purchased will be taxed this year at the current 15 percent rate, and any future gains will be taxed at the higher 2013 rates. Not only is this strategy simple to execute, it does not run afoul of the wash sale rule, because that applies only to losses, not gains. (The IRS is perfectly happy when you make your tax payments sooner rather than later.)

It’s important to remember that this strategy applies only to investments held in taxable accounts, not in retirement accounts like IRAs or 401(k)s. Because the money you put into the latter accounts was never taxed (except under certain circumstances), the IRS doesn’t care how much you paid for your investments. You will be taxed at the ordinary tax rates when retirement account money is withdrawn.

If you are a high-income taxpayer, tax gain harvesting in 2012 could save you at least 3.8 percent in taxes on your investments, unless tax rates go down within the next five years or so (a pretty unlikely prospect). For everyone else, you need to balance your expectations of higher tax rates – what are the odds that our lawmakers will reach a deal before the end of the year? – with your own cash-flow needs for this year and next. Don’t wait too long before having this conversation with your tax accountant or financial planner.

Los Altos resident Artie Green is a Certified Financial Planner with Cognizant Wealth Advisors. For more information, call 209-4062.

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