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What ETFs does Wealthfront use to implement tax-loss harvesting?

We regularly survey the landscape of over 1,400 ETFs and rank them for each asset class using the criteria of low expense ratios, minimal tracking error, ample liquidity, client-focused securities lending policies, and low correlation to the rest of the overall client investment portfolio. We receive no compensation for recommending any of the ETFs in our client portfolios and have no business relationship with any of the providers.

Our current recommended primary (initial) ETFs are:*

Asset Class Primary ETF Vendor Underlying Index Expense Ratio
U.S. Stocks VTI Vanguard CRSP US Total Market Index 0.04%
Foreign Stocks VEA Vanguard FTSE Developed All Cap ex US Index 0.07%
Emerging Markets VWO Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets All Cap China A Inclusion Index 0.14%
Real Estate ** VNQ Vanguard MSCI US REIT 0.12%
Natural Resources XLE State Street S&P Energy Select Sector Index 0.14%
U.S. Government Bonds ** BND Vanguard Barclays Aggregate Bond 0.05%
TIPS SCHP Schwab Barclays Capital U.S. TIPS 0.05%
Municipal Bonds VTEB Vanguard S&P National Municipal 0.09%
Dividend Stocks VIG Vanguard Dividend Achievers Select 0.09%

Our current recommended secondary ETFs are:*

Asset Class Secondary ETF Vendor Underlying Index Expense Ratio
U.S. Stocks SCHB Schwab DJ Broad US Market 0.03%
Foreign Stocks SCHF Schwab FTSE Dev ex-US 0.06%
Emerging Markets IEMG iShares MSCI EM 0.14%
Real Estate ** SCHH Schwab DJ REIT 0.07%
Natural Resources VDE Vanguard MSCI Energy 0.10%
U.S. Government Bonds ** BIV Vanguard Barclays 5-10 Gov/Credit 0.07%
TIPS VTIP Vanguard Barclays Capital U.S. TIPS 0-5 Years 0.07%
Municipal Bonds TFI State Street Barclays Capital Municipal 0.23%
Dividend Stocks SCHD Schwab Dow Jones U.S. Dividend 100 0.07%

Note: For accounts with Tax-Optimized Direct Indexing the “U.S. Stocks” position is implemented by directly purchasing up to 1,001 securities – 1,000 stocks from the S&P 1500 index and the Vanguard VXF or Vanguard VB ETFs to provide exposure to small and medium capitalization stocks.

* Subject to change without notice.

** Wealthfront’s March 2013 asset allocation update no longer contains Real Estate and U.S. Government Bonds in taxable accounts, however, they may remain until client accounts are fully transitioned.

Nothing in this blog should be construed as tax advice, a solicitation or offer, or recommendation, to buy or sell any security. Financial advisory services are only provided to investors who become Wealthfront Inc. clients pursuant to a written agreement, which investors are urged to read carefully, that is available at www.wealthfront.com. All securities involve risk and may result in some loss. For more information please visit www.wealthfront.com or see our Full Disclosure. While the data Wealthfront uses from third parties is believed to be reliable, Wealthfront does not guarantee the accuracy of the information.

When Wealthfront replaces investments with “similar” investments as part of the tax-loss harvesting strategy, it is a reference to investments that are expected, but are not guaranteed, to perform similarly and that might lower an investor’s tax bill while maintaining a similar expected risk and return on the investor’s portfolio. Wealthfront assumes no responsibility to any investor for the tax consequences of any transaction.

Tax loss harvesting may generate a higher number of trades due to attempts to capture losses. There is a chance that Wealthfront trading attributed to tax loss harvesting may create capital gains and wash sales and could be subject to higher transaction costs and market impacts. In addition, tax loss harvesting strategies may produce losses, which may not be offset by sufficient gains in the account and may be limited to a $3,000 deduction against income. The utilization of losses harvested through the strategy will depend upon the recognition of capital gains in the same or a future tax period, and in addition may be subject to limitations under applicable tax laws, e.g., if there are insufficient realized gains in the tax period, the use of harvested losses may be limited to a $3,000 deduction against income and distributions. Losses harvested through the strategy that are not utilized in the tax period when recognized (e.g., because of insufficient capital gains and/or significant capital loss carryforwards), generally may be carried forward to offset future capital gains, if any.

Wealthfront’s investment strategies, including portfolio rebalancing and tax loss harvesting, can lead to high levels of trading. High levels of trading could result in (a) bid-ask spread expense; (b) trade executions that may occur at prices beyond the bid ask spread (if quantity demanded exceeds quantity available at the bid or ask); (c) trading that may adversely move prices, such that subsequent transactions occur at worse prices; (d) trading that may disqualify some dividends from qualified dividend treatment; (e) unfulfilled orders or portfolio drift, in the event that markets are disorderly or trading halts altogether; and (f) unforeseen trading errors. The performance of the new securities purchased through the tax-loss harvesting service may be better or worse than the performance of the securities that are sold for tax-loss harvesting purposes.

Wealthfront only monitors for tax-loss harvesting for accounts within Wealthfront. The client is responsible for monitoring their and their spouse's accounts outside of Wealthfront to ensure that transactions in the same security or a substantially similar security do not create a “wash sale.” A wash sale is the sale at a loss and purchase of the same security or substantially similar security within 30 days of each other. If a wash sale transaction occurs, the IRS may disallow or defer the loss for current tax reporting purposes. More specifically, the wash sale period for any sale at a loss consists of 61 calendar days: the day of the sale, the 30 days before the sale, and the 30 days after the sale. The wash sale rule postpones losses on a sale, if replacement shares are bought around the same time.

The effectiveness of the tax-loss harvesting strategy to reduce the tax liability of the client will depend on the client’s entire tax and investment profile, including purchases and dispositions in a client’s (or client’s spouse’s) accounts outside of Wealthfront and type of investments (e.g., taxable or nontaxable) or holding period (e.g., short- term or long-term). Except as set forth below, Wealthfront will monitor only a client’s (or client’s spouse’s) Wealthfront accounts to determine if there are unrealized losses for purposes of determining whether to harvest such losses. Transactions outside of Wealthfront accounts may affect whether a loss is successfully harvested and, if so, whether that loss is usable by the client in the most efficient manner.

A client may also request that Wealthfront monitor the client’s spouse’s accounts or their IRA accounts at Wealthfront to avoid the wash sale disallowance rule. A client may request spousal monitoring online or by calling Wealthfront at 844-995-8437. If Wealthfront is monitoring multiple accounts to avoid the wash sale disallowance rule, the first taxable account to trade a security will block the other account(s) from trading in that same security for 30 days.

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