Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Calibrate your emergency fund to a crisis-prone world. Also in the news: How to give stock as a gift, what you need to know about Joe Biden’s student loan plan, and the pros and cons of Buy Now, Pay Later retail loans.

Calibrate Your Emergency Fund to a Crisis-Prone World
Financial advisors are urging clients to consider expanding their emergency funds.

How to Give Stock as a Gift (And Why Tax Pros Like The Idea)
Is it better to give than to receive? Certainly. But giving while receiving a tax benefit is pretty good, too.

Will student loans be forgiven in 2021? Here’s what you should know
What you need to know about Joe Biden’s student loan plan.

Are ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Retail Loans a Good Deal?
The pros and cons.

Q&A: Giving a gift with a built-in loss

Dear Liz: You recently answered a question about the tax implications of gifting stock to children. You mentioned that if the stock had lost value since its purchase, the children could use the loss to offset capital gains or, in the absence of gains, up to $3,000 a year of income, with the ability to carry over that loss to subsequent years until it’s used up.

But if a stock has a built-in loss, why not sell it, realize the loss and give the kids the cash? That way, the loss is sure to be recognized unless the donor dies before fully utilizing the capital loss or the carryover. If the child really wants that particular stock, he or she can use the cash to buy it. The children would have to be mindful of the wash-sale rules that prohibit deducting a loss if a related party buys the same stock, but waiting 31 days would be enough to avoid that.

In my view, there’s rarely a good reason to gift a stock (or most other assets) that has a built-in loss.

Answer: Exactly. Selling the asset and taking the tax benefit usually makes more sense than transferring the shares. The loss essentially evaporates, because the assets get a new value for tax purposes when transferred.

Selling losing stocks is certainly better than bequeathing them to your heirs. The loss essentially evaporates at your death, because the assets get a new value for tax purposes, so no one gets the potential tax break.