Wed02102016

News

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues


Graphic courtesy of Don Gardner
Activists claim that a new SFO flight path leaves a “sound shadow” that impacts Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

Sky Posse Los Altos Team – more simply known as SPLAT – seeks to squelch the noise...

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Schools

Los Altos High student-run charity plans ‘5 Gallon Gala’

Los Altos High student-run charity plans ‘5 Gallon Gala’


Courtesy of Lia Evard
Water by Youth members gave Egan students a chance to carry a 40-pound Jerry can, to see how difficult it is to obtain water in developing nations.

Water by Youth, a club at Los Altos High School, is making a splash by plannin...

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Community

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage


Courtesy of Alicia Madden
Sales of local Girl Scout cookies support service projects, such as funding an orphanage in the village of Mto wa Mbu in Tanzania.

Girl Scout cookies – whether you think of them as a treat, a tradition or a diet comp...

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Sports

Scoreless spells sink LA boys

Scoreless spells sink LA boys


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High point guard Nolan Brennan attempts a shot in Friday’s game versus Palo Alto. He scored eight points in the loss.

There have been several games this season in which the Los Altos High boys basketball t...

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Comment

New 'York' values

New 'York' values


Hughes

 

As we have witnessed California suffer through one of its worst droughts in history over the past few years, all of us, I’m sure, have been keenly aware of our surroundings and have done a small part in trying to conserve wa...

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Special Sections

PYT ‘Gets Famous’

PYT ‘Gets Famous’


Lyn Flaim Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Renee Vetter of Palo Alto, left, and Megan Foreman of Los Altos star in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Judy Moody Gets Famous.” Performances are scheduled Friday and Saturday.

Peninsula Yo...

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Business

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos resident Ella Roosakos, 11, with her mother, Gail, puzzles over which Gourmet Works sweets to buy as a valentine for Ella’s friend.

The gift-buying rush isn’t exclusive to Christmas. It may jump over...

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People

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

Alan Rodney Mills, PhD, 83, of Los Altos passed away peacefully on Saturday, January 30th, 2016. He was born in Rochdale, England in 1933 and came to California in 1962. He was a proud alumni of Manchester Grammar in England, University of Liverpoo...

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Stepping Out

LA Stage Company’s ‘Middletown’ continues run at Bus Barn Theater

Los Altos Stage Company’s Bay Area premiere of Will Eno’s “Middletown” is scheduled to run through Feb. 21 at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

Winner of the inaugural Horton Foote Award for Most Promising New Play in 2010, ...

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Spiritual Life

A time to prepare: Fasting for Lent isn't limited to food

 

Today is Ash Wednesday, which in the Christian calendar marks the beginning of Lent – the 40 days of preparation for Resurrection Sunday, otherwise known as Easter.

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Inside Mountain View

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters


Mountain View Tenants Coalition/Facebook
Residents gather in the fall to protest Mountain View’s rising rents. Rent relief is on the way in the form of a new ordinance.

A controversial Mountain View law requiring landlords to provide lease opt...

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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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