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Tax-saving investments

Sometimes saving money on taxes is as easy as choosing the right types of investments.
4 minute read

Points to know

  • Investments that minimize trading activity and offset gains with losses may result in a lower tax bill.
  • Some investments are exempt from taxation altogether.

Index mutual funds & ETFs

Index funds—whether mutual funds or ETFs (exchange-traded funds)—are naturally tax-efficient for a couple of reasons:

  • Because index funds simply replicate the holdings of an index, they don't trade in and out of securities as often as an active fund would. Constant buying and selling by active fund managers tends to produce taxable gains—and in many cases, short-term gains that are taxed at a higher rate.
  • Since index funds have to buy new lots of securities in the index every time investors put money into the fund, the fund generally has hundreds or thousands of lots to choose from when selling a given security. This gives the fund manager flexibility to sell lots that have the lowest tax bite.
  • These funds will only sell their complete holdings of a specific security if the index itself removes the security, which is a good thing for investors, since such sales can result in large capital gains.

And because of the way they trade, ETFs may have an additional tax benefit.

When you sell shares of an ETF, you're selling to another buyer as opposed to the fund company. This means the fund itself usually isn't involved in the transaction and doesn't have to sell any securities, potentially triggering capital gains.


We introduced the first index funds for individual investors, and we've been the voice of indexing ever since.

Vanguard is designed to be different: our funds own our company, and investors like you own our funds. This means that as new economies of scale help us lower costs, those benefits are passed directly to you.

See how Vanguard index funds stand above the rest >

Tax-managed stock funds

Some mutual funds are managed specifically to minimize the investors' tax burden, using strategies like:

  • Avoiding dividend-paying stocks.
  • Offsetting capital gains with losses.
  • Holding stocks for an extended period to avoid short-term gains.

Tax-managed funds are usually more expensive than comparable funds that don't have that additional layer of tax management. So they'll probably make sense for you only if you're in a higher tax bracket.*

Municipal bonds & bond funds

Income from municipal bonds, which are issued by state, city, and local governments, is generally free from federal taxes.** These bonds are often called "tax-exempt bonds." Municipal bond income is also usually free from state tax in the state where the bond was issued.

Because they offer this special tax treatment, these bonds generally give you lower interest rates than comparable taxable bonds. So like tax-managed funds, they make the most sense for investors in higher tax brackets.

Learn more about the taxation of government bonds

Saving for retirement or college?

Take advantage of tax breaks just for you! See guidance that can help you make a plan, solidify your strategy, and choose your investments.

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From mutual funds and ETFs to stocks and bonds, find all the investments you're looking for, all in one place.

Partner with a Vanguard advisor or call 855-850-6972 to speak with an investment professional.

*It's possible that the funds will not meet their objective of being tax-efficient.

**Although the income from a municipal bond fund is exempt from federal tax, you may owe taxes on any capital gains realized through the fund's trading or through your own redemption of shares. For some investors, a portion of the fund's income may be subject to state and local taxes, as well as to the federal Alternative Minimum Tax.

Vanguard ETF Shares are not redeemable with the issuing fund other than in very large aggregations worth millions of dollars. Instead, investors must buy and sell Vanguard ETF Shares in the secondary market and hold those shares in a brokerage account. In doing so, the investor may incur brokerage commissions and may pay more than net asset value when buying and receive less than net asset value when selling.

Investments in bonds are subject to interest rate, credit, and inflation risk.

All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest. We recommend that you consult a tax or financial advisor about your individual situation.

Vanguard's advice services are provided by Vanguard Advisers, Inc. ("VAI"), a registered investment advisor, or by Vanguard National Trust Company ("VNTC"), a federally chartered, limited-purpose trust company.

The services provided to clients will vary based upon the service selected, including management, fees, eligibility, and access to an advisor. Find VAI's Form CRS and each program's advisory brochure here for an overview.

VAI and VNTC are subsidiaries of The Vanguard Group, Inc., and affiliates of Vanguard Marketing Corporation. Neither VAI, VNTC, nor its affiliates guarantee profits or protection from losses.