Tag Archives: taxes


Navigating Taxes for the Self-Employed

If you’re one of the many people who work as an independent contractor or self-employed individual, you’ve probably wondered if you’re doing the right thing when it comes to your tax returns.  Are there tax benefits you’re missing out on?  Should you form a business entity?  These are common questions and the answers will vary depending on circumstances.  Let’s explore some basic guidelines for dealing with taxes when you’re self-employed. What’s deductible? I tell my clients that nearly every dollar you spend in relation to your business is tax deductible in some fashion.  There are three keys to remember for staying out of trouble: Expenses should be ordinary and necessary. You can’t deduct personal expenses. Don’t spend more money than […]

The 529 Series, Part 1: Five Simple Questions When Saving for College

On June 1, 2016, Wealthfront announced its new 529 College Savings Plan. This post is the first in a 3-part series updating our previous advice on saving for college using 529 plans. This post is based on an original 2012 post by Jeff Rosenberger, PhD. For most households, the birth of a child represents a wide range of conflicting emotions and new found responsibilities. From an investment standpoint, it is at this moment that many parents confront a familiar, and yet suddenly urgent financial goal: how to save for the ever-increasing financial burden of a college education. Saving for college can be a daunting financial goal. If you have a newborn daughter, you’ll need roughly $540,000 to pay for her […]

Investment Fees Matter, But Taxes Matter Even More

For more than 40 years, our Chief Investment Officer Burt Malkiel has been telling investors that you can’t outperform the market, so you should buy index funds and focus on the three things over which you do have control: minimizing fees, minimizing taxes and staying diversified. Minimizing fees gets a lot of attention from personal finance bloggers, but minimizing taxes gets almost none. That’s because these tax-minimization strategies are often hard to understand and even harder to put into practice, and thus have mainly been used by high net worth individuals who are serviced by well-paid financial advisors. And that’s bad news for the portfolios of average investors like yourself, because as I will show in this article, taking steps […]

We’ve Made Filing Your Taxes Even Easier

For too many investors, tax season is a time filled with unwelcomed surprises.  Not only can investment taxes be confusing and difficult to file, but at most traditional brokerages, you only realize a hefty tax bill is due when you receive your 1099 forms.  At Wealthfront, we pride ourselves on our efforts to both minimize our clients’ taxes and make them as simple as possible to file.  This year, we’re proud to say we have worked hard to make it even easier to file your 2015 taxes. Automated TurboTax Integration for Direct Indexing  From a tax perspective, 2015 was an unprecedented year of tax savings for Wealthfront clients who took advantage of our Daily Tax-Loss Harvesting and Direct Indexing services. […]

Even Warren Buffett Prefers Index Funds

In last year’s Berkshire Hathaway annual report and shareholder letter Warren Buffett caused quite a stir by suggesting that upon his demise the assets he was leaving his wife, in trust, should be invested in index funds (see “Warren Buffett: ‘Investing Advice For You–And My Wife,’” “Will Warren Buffett’s investment advice work for you?,” “Warren Buffett’s 90-10 Rule of Thumb for Retirement Investing,” or “The Warren Buffett Guide to Retirement Investing“). The primary reason for the hubbub was probably the contradiction it represented in coming from Mr. Buffett. An endorsement of index investing from the man who is thought of as one of the greatest stock pickers of all time seemed to fly in the face of all that Buffett […]

What Long-Term Return Should I Expect?

One of the most common questions posed to our client services team is “What is the expected long-term rate of return I can assume if I invest in a diversified portfolio?” Based on return estimates derived from the market (not Wealthfront’s opinion), an optimally diversified portfolio of low-cost index funds is expected to generate an annual long-term pre-tax  return of 4% – 6%, depending on how much risk you are willing to tolerate. It should be noted that the returns achieved over the past two years were much higher, but as you know past returns are not indicative of future returns. Returns Are Almost Impossible to Predict Some of you might be disappointed with this expected long-term return. I wish it […]

Minimize Your Investment Taxes

Our Chief Investment Officer, Burt Malkiel, famed author of “A Random Walk Down Wall Street,” has spent the past 40 years explaining that investors can’t control the market, so they should focus their efforts on the three investment tactics within their control: Diversify and rebalance your portfolio Minimize fees Minimize taxes Previously, we published posts on the value of diversification and minimizing fees. However, too often the industry avoids talking about one of the most important aspects of maximizing your long-term investment results: minimizing taxes. The Seven Ways to Minimize Taxes There are seven ways Wealthfront can significantly reduce your investment taxes: Using Index Funds Rebalancing your portfolio with dividends Applying different asset allocations for taxable & retirement accounts Tax–loss […]

When Should You Exercise Your Stock Options?

Stock options have value precisely because they are an option. The fact that you have an extended amount of time to decide whether and when to buy your employer’s stock at a fixed price should have tremendous value. That’s why publicly-traded stock options are valued higher than the amount by which the price of the underlying stock exceeds the exercise price (please see Why Employee Stock Options are More Valuable than Exchange-Traded Stock Options for a more detailed explanation). Your stock option loses its option value the moment you exercise because you no longer have flexibility around when and if you should exercise. As a result many people wonder when does it make sense to exercise an option. Tax Rates […]

14 Things to Consider for Your Year-End Financial Checklist

The last few weeks of the year are always a mad rush to wrap up loose ends, often in a frantic fashion. In the spirit of the season, we thought it a good time to share a checklist of important items to consider before the calendar year ends, all related to your investments and finances. We also wanted to reiterate some key topics we’ve already discussed, but that are especially important to review by end-of-year. Here are some brief pieces of financial advice on several fronts that could benefit you and yours in multiple ways, and that could ultimately add to your long-term bottom line, not to mention peace of mind. 1. Establish or Tune Up Your Emergency Fund If you […]

New Research on the Efficacy of Tax-Loss Harvesting

Tax-loss harvesting isn’t something new. It’s actually been around for decades. It’s also one of the few ways you can intelligently lower your investment-related taxes. More than $100 billion has been invested with dedicated firms like Parametric Associates and Aperio, and with high-end private wealth managers like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley — specifically  to access their tax-loss harvesting strategies. Unfortunately, until recently, tax-loss harvesting was only available to the ultra-wealthy. That changed two years ago when Wealthfront became the first automated investment service to offer tax-loss harvesting to its clients. Wealthfront now manages almost $1 Billion in accounts enabled with tax-loss harvesting. Tax-Loss Harvesting Helps You Defer Investment Related Taxes Tax-loss harvesting is a method to defer taxes, not […]