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News

Foothill to offer four-year degree: Foothill aims to launch dental hygiene degree in fall 2016

Foothill to offer four-year degree: Foothill aims to launch dental hygiene degree in fall 2016


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Students enrolled in Foothill College’s two-year dental hygiene program, above, can soon earn a four-year bachelor’s degree for approximately $10,000.

Foothill-De Anza Community College District Chancellor Linda M. Th...

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Schools

Freestyle hosts exhibition at Computer Science Museum

Freestyle hosts exhibition at Computer Science Museum


Traci Newell/Town Crier
Mountain View High junior and Freestyle Academy student Radika Gupta, right, works with a fellow student during a WebAudio course this month.

For three periods a day, a small subset of students from Los Altos and Mountain Vi...

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Community

Museum explores Stanford, Valley connection

Museum explores Stanford, Valley connection


Courtesy of Julie Rose
The Los Altos History Museum’s “Symbiotic Superstars” event drew a crowd including, from left, “The Lure & the Legends” creator Nan Geschke, Stanford President John L. Hennessy, historian Leslie Berlin and Adobe Systems c...

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Comment

Good compromise on PE exemptions: Editorial

While “Deflategate” captures the national sports headlines, the local issue of physical education class exemptions for freshmen seems a much worthier sports topic for discussion.

The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Truste...

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Special Sections

Your Home Brief

Filoli hosts bird exhibition

Filoli kicks off the 2015 season of art exhibitions in its Visitor and Education Center with “The Birds of America: Audubon Collection,” a selection of prints from Filoli’s Permanent Collection, Feb. 10...

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Business

Wine & beer lounge coming to First Street

Wine & beer lounge coming to First Street


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The new wine and beer lounge Honcho heads to First Street, with a spring opening anticipated.

A cocktail lounge proposed for First Street has cleared its first hurdle – the Los Altos Planning and Transportation Comm...

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Books

"Fearless Genius" photos chart Silicon Valleys brain trust


Not every book needs pages and pages of words to tell a story – some do it through pictures.

“Fearless Genius: The Digital Revolution in Silicon Valley, 1985-2000” (Atria Books, 2014) by Doug Menuez features more than 100 photographs Menuez to...

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People

RUBY DOSHIM LAI

Ruby Doshim Lai was born on July 26, 1929 and passed away at home on January 10, 2015. A resident of Los Altos for over 50 years, Ruby is survived by her husband Bill; children Gwen, Tracy and Allyn; and grandchildren Kiyoshi and Misa.

Born on Mott ...

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Travel

Cuban photographer slated to appear at Foothill

Cuban photographer slated to appear at Foothill


Courtesy of Raúl Cañibano
Cuban photographer Raúl Cañibano is set to appear at Foothill College tonight. His work – including the image “Series: Guajira’s Land, Viñales, 2007,” right – is on display at the KCI Gallery t...

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Stepping Out

'Betrayal' at Pear

'Betrayal' at Pear


Ray Renati/Special to the Town Crier
The cast of Pear Avenue Theatre’s “Betrayal” includes Maryssa Wanlass, from left, Fred Pitts and William J. Brown III.

The Pear Avenue Theatre presents Harold Pinter’s investigation of modern relationships, “...

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Magazine

Tracing history on foot: Hidden Villa’s long hike

Tracing history on foot: Hidden Villa’s long hike


Campers on Hidden Villa’s Sierra Backpacking Trip study historical photos to measure how the land has changed and alternate serving as student leaders who guide the route of their three-week trek.

Amid the high-tech camps and programs of a Bay Area ...

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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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