Worried About Year-End Capital Gains Taxes? ETFs May Help

This is the time of year when asset managers announce year-end capital gains distribution estimates for their funds. Capital gains are generated when funds sell their holdings at a profit. Due to the solid performance of the markets this year, some investors may find their tax liabilities have grown along with their portfolio balance — even if they haven’t sold their investments.

If you are concerned about capital gains taxes, there are two ways in which exchange-traded funds (ETFs) may help.

1. ETFs may defer taxable events due to their structure

Because of their unique structure, ETFs may allow investors to defer some, most or possibly all of their capital gains until they sell their investment.

Since ETFs are traded on an exchange, the majority of shareholder transactions take place on the exchange and away from the ETF, meaning that the ETF does not need to buy or sell securities in response to these shareholder transactions. Fewer portfolio transactions translates into fewer instances where capital gains may be realized by the ETF. In addition, creation and redemption transactions performed directly with the ETF are typically transacted in-kind, meaning that shares of the underlying portfolio holdings are exchanged as opposed to cash, which further limits the volume of transactions that could give rise to capital gains in the ETF.1

At Invesco PowerShares, only a small portion of our ETFs — about 4.5% of our assets under management — have distributed capital gains since each fund’s respective inception.2 These distributions represent an average of just 0.69% of NAV2 — a low figure is important because the less investors pay in taxes, the more they get to keep.

2. ETFs may help with ‘tax-loss harvesting’

Additionally, there is a technique called “tax-loss harvesting,” in which investors sell a stock at a loss (thereby offsetting any capital gains from elsewhere in the portfolio) and buy an ETF that correlates strongly to that security (thereby retaining that exposure in the portfolio).3 Invesco PowerShares offers a variety of tools to help advisors and investors identify ETFs that correlate with individual stocks, and this flyer gives more details about the technique.

Capital gains taxes are deferred for investors who hold their funds in Individual Retirement Accounts, 401(k)s or other tax-deferred accounts. But, if you hold investments in taxable accounts, and you’re interested in potentially reducing your tax liabilities related to capital gains, now is the time to talk to your financial advisor about ETFs.

Important Information

1 ETF shares are created and redeemed through an “in-kind” transfer process. Entities called “authorized participants” can trade ETF shares for baskets of individual shares that mimic the ETF’s underlying holdings.

2 Source: Invesco PowerShares as of Oct. 28, 2014

3 Internal Revenue Code “wash-sale” laws disallow capital losses if a security is sold at a loss and the same security is repurchased or a “substantially identical” security is purchased 30 days prior to or 30 days after the sale.

There are risks involved with investing in ETFs, including possible loss of money. Index-based ETFs are not actively managed. Actively managed ETFs do not necessarily seek to replicate the performance of a specified index. Both index-based and actively managed ETFs are subject to risks similar to stocks, including those related to short selling and margin maintenance. Ordinary brokerage commissions apply. The Fund’s return may not match the return of the Index.

While it is not Invesco PowerShares intention, there is no guarantee that the Funds will not distribute capital gains to its shareholders.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation of the suitability of any investment strategy for a particular investor. Invesco does not provide tax advice. The tax information contained herein is general and is not exhaustive by nature. Federal and state tax laws are complex and constantly changing. Investors should always consult their own legal or tax professional for information concerning their individual situation. The opinions expressed are those of the authors, are based on current market conditions and are subject to change without notice. These opinions may differ from those of other Invesco investment professionals.

Before investing, investors should carefully read the prospectus and consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses.

All data provided by Invesco unless otherwise noted.

Invesco Distributors, Inc. is the US distributor for Invesco Ltd.’s retail products and collective trust funds. Invesco Advisers, Inc. and other affiliated investment advisers mentioned provide investment advisory services and do not sell securities. Invesco Unit Investment Trusts are distributed by the sponsor, Invesco Capital Markets, Inc., and broker-dealers including Invesco Distributors, Inc. PowerShares® is a registered trademark of Invesco PowerShares Capital Management LLC (Invesco PowerShares). Each entity is an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Invesco Ltd.

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