If you are subject to the 3.8% net investment income tax, there are strategies that may help you manage that tax. The tax is applied to the lesser of your net investment income or the amount by which your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) exceeds the applicable income tax threshold. MAGI is basically adjusted gross income plus any associated foreign earned income exclusion. Any strategy you consider should be directed at the appropriate target.
If your net investment income is greater than your MAGI over the threshold, then your focus should be aimed at reducing your MAGI. Conversely, if your MAGI over the threshold is greater than your net investment income, you should try to reduce your net investment income.
Here are a few strategies that may help you manage the net investment income tax:
- • Before selling appreciated securities, consider whether you can offset the gain with capital losses. Likewise, if you have any capital loss carryforwards, you should review your portfolio for capital gain opportunities to make use of the capital losses.
- Consider gifts of appreciated securities to tax-qualified charities.
- If passive income is from a business, offset passive income with passive losses. If you don’t have passive losses, you may be able to convert the passive income to non-passive income (not subject to the tax) by becoming more active in the business.
- You may be able to reduce your MAGI by increasing contributions to a traditional IRA, 401(k), or 403(b).
- Consider investments that may have growth potential but typically do not generate dividends.
- Generally, any gains in tax-deferred annuities and cash value life insurance are not reportable as income unless withdrawn, which may help reduce both your MAGI and your net investment income.
While any of these alternatives may help reduce your net investment income or your MAGI, they may also affect your financial planning. So before implementing strategies to reduce or eliminate exposure to the net investment income tax, consult with a tax professional to help with your specific situation.