Exchange traded funds provide the average retail investor with the opportunity to easily access the commodities space. As the April 15 tax deadline approaches, investors should take the time to look over some tax consequences associated with commodity funds to minimize any potential pitfalls.
When an individual invests in a physically-backed precious metals ETF, like the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD), “the IRS treats you as if you were actually holding the bullion yourself,” Michael Iachini, head of ETF research at Charles Schwab Investment Advisory, said in the article. [Long-Term Gains on Gold, Silver ETFs Taxed at Higher Rate]
The IRS treats gold, silver and other precious metals as collectibles. Collectible metals are not taxed at the 15% maximum long-term capital gains rate, but instead, they are taxed at the ordinary income rate of up to 28%. If the precious metal ETF is held for less than a year, short-term rates can be up to 35%. [ETFs and Tax Efficiency]
The IRS places a 60/40 split on futures-based ETFs, like the U.S. Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO), which are structured as limited partnerships. When sold, 60% of the profits is taxed at a maximum 15% long-term capital gains rate and 40% of the profits is taxed at short-term ordinary income rates. Additionally, unrealized gains on futures-based ETFs are marked-to-market annually – contracts held within the funds are taxed at the market value regardless of maturity at the end of the year. [Three Things You Need to Know About ETF Tax Efficiency]