VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

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BogleTails
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VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by BogleTails » Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:40 pm

Hello fellow Bogleheads,
I was hoping for a recommendation on exchanging or future contributions to my bonds in my taxable account.

Currently, the majority of my bond allocation is in Vanguard Intermediate-Term Tax-Exempt Fund Admiral Shares (VWIUX) in my taxable account since I was previously in a 33% tax bracket. With the new tax changes, I will be in a 24% tax bracket.

Is it recommended to switch to Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund Admiral Shares (VBTLX), or put future bond funds into VBTLX keeping both funds, or just continue with the Muni fund?

I reside in Florida and do not pay State income tax.

I performed the taxable equivalent calculations on the SEC yields and the numbers were almost identical:

VWIUX SEC yield 2.10%
2.10/(1-0.24) = 2.76 (pre-tax equivalent)

VBTLX SEC yield 2.57%
2.57*(1-0.24)=1.95 (after-tax equivalent)

Why is the SEC yield lagging so much for the Muni fund compared to the distributions, but almost identical for VBTLX?

The most recent distribution in VWIUX was recorded as 2.83%
2.83/(1-0.24) = 3.72 (pre-tax equivalent)

Is there some aspect of this I am overlooking?
Thanks in advance for your advice.

radiowave
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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by radiowave » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:06 pm

You are still going to pay federal income tax on VBTLX if you put it in taxable. If you have room or otherwise are able, put total bond in a tax deferred account, tIRA, 401k, etc.
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Offshore
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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by Offshore » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:34 pm

OP, I'm in a similar situation as you, with taxable savings in VWIUX. TBM is not a great option due to tax consequence, right? When comparing VWIUX with TBM, what do you think about risk, as it pertains to potential for losses. Are they equivalent? Thanks.

Off Shore

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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by venkman » Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:30 pm

BogleTails wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:40 pm
Why is the SEC yield lagging so much for the Muni fund compared to the distributions, but almost identical for VBTLX?

The most recent distribution in VWIUX was recorded as 2.83%
2.83/(1-0.24) = 3.72 (pre-tax equivalent)
I think it's somewhat standard practice now for muni bonds to be sold at a premium with a higher-than-market coupon rate. So, you get more interest along the way, but you lose money when the bond gets to maturity and returns less than you paid for it. I would assume this means you should expect the NAV of the fund to gradually decline and cancel out some of that distribution yield, and your total return should be close to the SEC yield.

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jhfenton
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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by jhfenton » Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:17 am

Offshore wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:34 pm
OP, I'm in a similar situation as you, with taxable savings in VWIUX. TBM is not a great option due to tax consequence, right? When comparing VWIUX with TBM, what do you think about risk, as it pertains to potential for losses. Are they equivalent? Thanks.

Off Shore
I think they're similar in risk. I would certainly choose VWIUX in taxable in the 24% bracket.

I personally use the Ohio-specific long-term tax-exempt fund (VOHIX) in taxable in the 22%+4.6% bracket. I believe it offers better returns than the comparably-risky intermediate treasury or total bond funds. (The duration of the long muni funds is not particularly long.)

exigent
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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by exigent » Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:34 am

It’s interesting that, when you look at 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year performance, VWIUX does better than VBTLX. I would assume that the tax benefits would increase this advantage further. This is based on the little “Average annual performance” graph on the Vanguard fund pages. I guess this is a combination of price appreciation as well as dividends (right?). Didn’t reallt expect to see that when I started poking around.

BogleTails
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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by BogleTails » Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:44 pm

venkman wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:30 pm
I would assume this means you should expect the NAV of the fund to gradually decline and cancel out some of that distribution yield, and your total return should be close to the SEC yield.
Thanks for the additional explanation on the difference and expected effect on the NAV.
jhfenton wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:17 am
I think they're similar in risk. I would certainly choose VWIUX in taxable in the 24% bracket.
Seems like I should stick with VWIUX for the time being.

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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by rerod » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:33 pm

exigent wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:34 am
It’s interesting that, when you look at 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year performance, VWIUX does better than VBTLX. I would assume that the tax benefits would increase this advantage further. This is based on the little “Average annual performance” graph on the Vanguard fund pages. I guess this is a combination of price appreciation as well as dividends (right?). Didn’t reallt expect to see that when I started poking around.
I would also like to know .. I bought vbtlx and don't understand why vanguard never mentioned I should consider VWIUX knowing my account was taxable.

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House Blend
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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by House Blend » Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:55 pm

venkman wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:30 pm
BogleTails wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:40 pm
Why is the SEC yield lagging so much for the Muni fund compared to the distributions, but almost identical for VBTLX?

The most recent distribution in VWIUX was recorded as 2.83%
2.83/(1-0.24) = 3.72 (pre-tax equivalent)
I think it's somewhat standard practice now for muni bonds to be sold at a premium with a higher-than-market coupon rate. So, you get more interest along the way, but you lose money when the bond gets to maturity and returns less than you paid for it. I would assume this means you should expect the NAV of the fund to gradually decline and cancel out some of that distribution yield, and your total return should be close to the SEC yield.
FWIW, I agree and will add that it is a free lunch. Or maybe just a free snack.

(More precisely, what I am saying is that having a muni fund that distributes 3% and drops 1% in price is better than a muni fund that takes similar risks, but distributes 2% and has a stable share price.)

You are getting more tax free income in exchange for less in capital gains. If you end up realizing a net capital loss, that's even better.

If a taxable bond fund did this, you would be getting extra taxable interest in exchange for less in capital gains, which is generally a net loss after tax.

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tractorguy
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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by tractorguy » Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:22 am

I too have a 24% marginal Federal tax rate and struggle with this question every time that I re-allocate. I've got all of my tax free space filled with bond funds, and am now growing bonds in my taxable space.

Historically, I've done the same calculation as the OP and found that the two funds, after taxes, had a very similar 30 Day SEC yield. As I do whenever two funds I like look very similar, I ended up buying some of each. This week, I had some free time, and I downloaded the last 10 years dividend, price, and capital gain history for the two funds from Vanguard and played with the numbers in a spreadsheet. I calculated the taxes on each disbursement, and assumed I re-invested all of the after tax proceeds. I used a 24% Federal, a 15% Federal Long Term Capital Gain tax rate, and a 4.95% (Illinois) state tax rate. I assumed a 0% Federal tax rate for VWIUX dividends.

What I found out (see below) was interesting. Vanguard Intermediate Term Tax Exempt Fund (VWIUX) is the clear winner with 84% more after tax income.

Description Federal Tax Rate State Tax Rate
Income 24.00% 4.95%
Short-Term Capital Gain 24% 4.95%
Long-Term Capital Gain 15% 4.95%
VBTLX Results VWIUX Results Difference
Investment Starting Value $10,000.00 $10,000.00
After Tax Investment Value $13,219.30 $14,976.04 $1,756.73
After Tax Income $2,154.73 $3,972.88 $1,818.15
Equivalent Compound Annual Interest 2.83% 4.12%

After digging some more, this result isn't surprising, as VWIUX beats Total Bond Fund on absolute returns 7 of the last 10 years, even before subtracting taxes from the Total Bond Fund. The next question is why and is the reason for the better returns likely to continue? VWIUX average credit quality is a smidgeon worse than Total Bond Fund but not anything that I'm worried about. I'd be interested in hearing any comments from people who know more about bonds than I do.

Even though past results is no predictor of future returns, I'm highly tempted to move the money I have in Total Bond Fund in taxable space into VWIUX. Since I've got a net capital loss, this is also a tax loss harvesting opportunity.
Lorne

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Sandtrap
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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:28 am

tractorguy wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:22 am
I too have a 24% marginal Federal tax rate and struggle with this question every time that I re-allocate. I've got all of my tax free space filled with bond funds, and am now growing bonds in my taxable space.

Historically, I've done the same calculation as the OP and found that the two funds, after taxes, had a very similar 30 Day SEC yield. As I do whenever two funds I like look very similar, I ended up buying some of each. This week, I had some free time, and I downloaded the last 10 years dividend, price, and capital gain history for the two funds from Vanguard and played with the numbers in a spreadsheet. I calculated the taxes on each disbursement, and assumed I re-invested all of the after tax proceeds. I used a 24% Federal, a 15% Federal Long Term Capital Gain tax rate, and a 4.95% (Illinois) state tax rate. I assumed a 0% Federal tax rate for VWIUX dividends.

What I found out (see below) was interesting. Vanguard Intermediate Term Tax Exempt Fund (VWIUX) is the clear winner with 84% more after tax income.

Description Federal Tax Rate State Tax Rate
Income 24.00% 4.95%
Short-Term Capital Gain 24% 4.95%
Long-Term Capital Gain 15% 4.95%
VBTLX Results VWIUX Results Difference
Investment Starting Value $10,000.00 $10,000.00
After Tax Investment Value $13,219.30 $14,976.04 $1,756.73
After Tax Income $2,154.73 $3,972.88 $1,818.15
Equivalent Compound Annual Interest 2.83% 4.12%

After digging some more, this result isn't surprising, as VWIUX beats Total Bond Fund on absolute returns 7 of the last 10 years, even before subtracting taxes from the Total Bond Fund. The next question is why and is the reason for the better returns likely to continue? VWIUX average credit quality is a smidgeon worse than Total Bond Fund but not anything that I'm worried about. I'd be interested in hearing any comments from people who know more about bonds than I do.

Even though past results is no predictor of future returns, I'm highly tempted to move the money I have in Total Bond Fund in taxable space into VWIUX. Since I've got a net capital loss, this is also a tax loss harvesting opportunity.
I also have a mix of both funds.
Thanks for making the calculations.
This thread has my attention. . . . .
j :D

UpperNwGuy
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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by UpperNwGuy » Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:37 am

I, too, am in the 24% Federal tax bracket and have a mix of these two funds in taxable. I will be following this thread with great interest.

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Oak&Elm
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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by Oak&Elm » Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:05 pm

Keep in mind if you are drawing SS it's likely the normally tax free dividends on VWIUX will not be tax free and thus makes this a less desirable investment.

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Sandtrap
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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:15 pm

Oak&Elm wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:05 pm
Keep in mind if you are drawing SS it's likely the normally tax free dividends on VWIUX will not be tax free and thus makes this a less desirable investment.
Why?
How does that work?

thanks,
j :D

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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by Oak&Elm » Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:26 pm

Up to 85% of Social Security benefits may be taxed if half of an individual’s benefit plus their income – including tax-exempt interest – exceeds $34,000 for individuals or $44,000 for married couples.

boglesmind
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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by boglesmind » Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:49 pm

Oak&Elm wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:26 pm
Up to 85% of Social Security benefits may be taxed if half of an individual’s benefit plus their income – including tax-exempt interest – exceeds $34,000 for individuals or $44,000 for married couples.
However there is another advantage to VWIUX's tax-exempt interest. It is not included in one's AGI, hence there is more room for QDI and capital gains to be taxed at 0%, 15% etc depending on one's tax bracket.

Boglesmind

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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:56 pm

boglesmind wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:49 pm
Oak&Elm wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:26 pm
Up to 85% of Social Security benefits may be taxed if half of an individual’s benefit plus their income – including tax-exempt interest – exceeds $34,000 for individuals or $44,000 for married couples.
However there is another advantage to VWIUX's tax-exempt interest. It is not included in one's AGI, hence there is more room for QDI and capital gains to be taxed at 0%, 15% etc depending on one's tax bracket.

Boglesmind
qualified dividend income (QDI)
Is this what you're referring to?
viewtopic.php?t=242189
j :D

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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by boglesmind » Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:43 pm

Sandtrap wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:56 pm
boglesmind wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:49 pm
Oak&Elm wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:26 pm
Up to 85% of Social Security benefits may be taxed if half of an individual’s benefit plus their income – including tax-exempt interest – exceeds $34,000 for individuals or $44,000 for married couples.
However there is another advantage to VWIUX's tax-exempt interest. It is not included in one's AGI, hence there is more room for QDI and capital gains to be taxed at 0%, 15% etc depending on one's tax bracket.

Boglesmind
qualified dividend income (QDI)
Is this what you're referring to?
viewtopic.php?t=242189
j :D
yes, QDI is Qualified Dividend Income. The taxable interest from VBTLX is considered ordinary income and reduces the space available for preferential treatment of QDI from funds such as index500.

Boglesmind

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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by grabiner » Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:18 pm

Oak&Elm wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:05 pm
Keep in mind if you are drawing SS it's likely the normally tax free dividends on VWIUX will not be tax free and thus makes this a less desirable investment.
boglesmind wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:49 pm
However there is another advantage to VWIUX's tax-exempt interest. It is not included in one's AGI, hence there is more room for QDI and capital gains to be taxed at 0%, 15% etc depending on one's tax bracket.
If you are in the 24% tax bracket, neither of these is relevant. In the 24% tax bracket, you will already be paying tax on the maximum 85% of your SS. And capital gains are already being taxed at 15% in that bracket, with a lot of room before you start paying 18.8% tax.

The SS issue is relevant in the 22% bracket. If you are in the 22% bracket and still in the SS phase-in, your marginal tax rate is 40.7%. But muni income still counts as income for making SS taxable, so your marginal tax rate on muni income is 18.7%; only the 22% is saved; this makes munis less useful.
Wiki David Grabiner

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Re: VWIUX vs VBTLX in 24% tax bracket

Post by boglesmind » Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:33 am

grabiner wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:18 pm
Oak&Elm wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:05 pm
Keep in mind if you are drawing SS it's likely the normally tax free dividends on VWIUX will not be tax free and thus makes this a less desirable investment.
boglesmind wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:49 pm
However there is another advantage to VWIUX's tax-exempt interest. It is not included in one's AGI, hence there is more room for QDI and capital gains to be taxed at 0%, 15% etc depending on one's tax bracket.
If you are in the 24% tax bracket, neither of these is relevant. In the 24% tax bracket, you will already be paying tax on the maximum 85% of your SS. And capital gains are already being taxed at 15% in that bracket, with a lot of room before you start paying 18.8% tax.

The SS issue is relevant in the 22% bracket. If you are in the 22% bracket and still in the SS phase-in, your marginal tax rate is 40.7%. But muni income still counts as income for making SS taxable, so your marginal tax rate on muni income is 18.7%; only the 22% is saved; this makes munis less useful.
True.

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