Investments Best Held in an IRA

The following is an excerpt from 10 Investments You Should Hold in an IRA

Whether you want him to be or not, Uncle Sam is one of your most important partners in your retirement planning. The taxes you pay have a major impact on your effective returns … and in some cases might make the difference between retiring comfortably or just barely getting by. That’s why it pays to know what investments should go in different retirement vehicles, such as a 401k, IRA or Roth IRA.

Not all investment gains are taxed equally. Some are taxed at preferential rates — or allowed to defer taxes indefinitely — while others will cost you so much of your current income, you might mistake them for a vindictive ex-wife.

So, as important as asset allocation, it’s all for naught if you don’t take tax allocation into account.

If you’re like most Americans, your retirement savings are a mixture of tax-deferred IRA and 401k money, and good, old-fashioned taxable bank and brokerage accounts. Today, we’re going talk about how best to arrange your investments within those types of accounts in order to lower your tax bill.

Obviously, non-interest-bearing cash generates no taxable income and should therefore be held in a taxable account. The same holds true for low-turnover, buy-and-hold stock index funds. There’s no reason to burn valuable tax-free dollars on something that’s not going to generate taxable gains.

Your IRA dollars should be reserved for the highly taxed stuff. So with no further ado, here are 10 investments you should always try to hold in an IRA if possible.

Alternative Investments

“Alternative investments” is something of a blanket term that can mean different things to different people.

To me, an alternative is anything other than the traditional asset classes of stocks, bonds or cash. But for many of my high-net-worth clients, this will generally mean hedge funds.

Due to the lousy yields on offer in the bond market, I’ve been using market-neutral hedge funds for accredited-investor clients. While volatility tends to be low, this usually comes at the cost of higher portfolio turnover, which is extremely tax-inefficient.

That makes them an obvious choice for an IRA.

You really should do your homework here, however, because certain assets can create tax headaches. Some funds generate unrelated business taxable income (UBTI), which can result in you having to file a tax return on behalf of your IRA. However, you can sometimes avoid this by buying the offshore version of the fund for your IRA.

Before you do this, make sure you discuss this with your financial adviser or with the fund’s general partner because every scenario is a little different. But as a general rule, a fund that is “tax safe” for an offshore investor will also be “tax safe” for a rollover IRA investor.

To finish reading, see 10 Investments You Should Hold in an IRA

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