Tax-Rate Arbitrage: Realization of Long-Term Gains to Enable Short-Term Loss Harvesting


We look at an enhanced loss-harvesting strategy, tax-rate arbitrage, which exploits the
differential between short- and long-term tax rates. Our study relies on ATBAT, an After-Tax
Back-Testing Analysis Tool that lets us examine tax-managed strategies over numerous
historical periods. For the ideal tax-rate arbitrage investor, one who is subject to federal only tax
rates, who has a long horizon and a planned liquidation date, and who launches the strategy from
all cash, tax-rate arbitrage generated an average of 0.78% in excess after-tax active return at a
10-year horizon relative to a standard loss-harvesting strategy. Other investors with different
profiles may benefit from tax-rate arbitrage but typically to a lesser extent.

Taotao Cai
Pete Hand
Publication date: 
March 3, 2021
Publication type: 
Journal Article