Tax-Loss Selling and the Year-End Behavior of Dow Jones Stocks

Max Gold, Jeff Levere, Gary Smith


A capital gain or loss only has tax consequences if the asset is sold. This tax rule creates an incentive for realizing losses but not gains. If investors implement this tax-harvesting strategy, there should be a surge in the year-end sales of stocks whose prices have declined during the year, and additional downward pressure on their prices. Previous studies have found evidence of volume and price effects, particularly for small stocks. In contrast, our analysis of the components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average finds abnormally high December volume for depressed stocks, but little or no effect on prices—evidently because of their liquidity.

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Accounting and Finance Research
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