SteadyOptions is an options trading forum where you can find solutions from top options traders. TRY IT FREE!

We’ve all been there… researching options strategies and unable to find the answers we’re looking for. SteadyOptions has your solution.

Tax Efficient Trading Part I: The 1256 Contracts

Cash settled index options like SPX, XSP, RUT and a few others receive special federal tax treatment where 60% of the gains are reported as a Long Term Capital Gain (LTCG) even if the contract was held for less than a year.

This is an advantage compared to stock and ETF options where realized earnings are reported as short term gains unless the contract is held for more than a year. In this article, I’ll provide a simplified example to illustrate how much of a difference this could make over the long term for someone paying 32% on short term gains and 15% on long term gains.

An interesting side note is that taxpayers in the 12% federal bracket, which currently extends to just over $80,000 of taxable income for someone married filing jointly, pay 0% on LTCG’s under current law. This simplified example excludes other taxes that could apply to your situation including state income taxes as well as the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT).  I’m a financial planner, not a tax advisor, so readers should not consider this article to be specific tax advice. Always reach out to your own qualified tax advisor to discuss your personal situation.


Let’s assume a trader is debating writing puts or strangles monthly using either XSP or SPY. Since these contracts are the same notional size they can be used interchangeably with the biggest difference being how XSP is cash settled and SPY settles into shares. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll ignore other variables that can weigh into this product choice decision such as liquidity, where SPY generally holds the advantage.

Let’s then assume that the strategy is expected to make 8% gross annualized returns for the next 30 years with a $100,000 account. Net of taxes paid directly from the account, the 1256 contract (XSP) would return 6.26% and the traditional options contract (SPY) would return 5.44%. These differences in net return would compound to the following amounts in a $100,000 account over the next 30 years.





There are many important variables to consider when implementing a trading strategy. Commissions and slippage are routinely thought of by traders, but the long term impact of taxes are often overlooked. This example highlights how the tax advantage of 1256 contracts can be significant over a 30 year trading career. In my next article, I’ll extend the comparison to covered calls which can further improve tax efficiency. By making ETF’s the core asset, we gain more control over paying taxes by deferring capital gains until realized by selling shares or potentially even deferring them forever by taking a margin loan instead of selling shares.


Jesse Blom is a licensed investment advisor and Vice President of Lorintine Capital, LP. He provides investment advice to clients all over the United States and around the world. Jesse has been in financial services since 2008 and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. Working with a CFP® professional represents the highest standard of financial planning advice. Jesse has a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Oral Roberts University.

Related articles

What Is SteadyOptions?

Full Trading Plan

Complete Portfolio Approach

Diversified Options Strategies

Exclusive Community Forum

Steady And Consistent Gains

High Quality Education

Risk Management, Portfolio Size

Performance based on real fills

Try It Free

Non-directional Options Strategies

10-15 trade Ideas Per Month

Targets 5-7% Monthly Net Return

Visit our Education Center

Recent Articles


  • Q&A with Mental Game Coach Jared Tendler

    QUESTION: Thank you for taking the time to participate in a Q & A session with Steady Option. Let’s start with an introduction and a little bit of background on who you are and how you got here.

    By Jared Tendler,

  • Using TLT Options to Increase Expected Returns of a Buy & Hold Portfolio

    TLT is the iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF that seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of U.S. Treasury bonds with remaining maturities greater than twenty years. Even though US Treasuries typically act as a diversifying asset class to mainstream equities, many investors with long time horizons may not be interested in holding TLT in their portfolio because it would lower expected returns.

    By Jesse,

  • Tax Efficient Trading Part II: Capital Gains Deferral

    In part I I illustrated how the preferential tax treatment of 1256 contracts could improve after tax returns of a PutWrite strategy over a long period of time. In this article, I’ll continue the illustration by switching from a PutWrite to an ETF BuyWrite (covered calls) strategy while holding pre-tax expected returns constant at 8%.

    By Jesse,

  • Tax Efficient Trading Part I: The 1256 Contracts

    Cash settled index options like SPX, XSP, RUT and a few others receive special federal tax treatment where 60% of the gains are reported as a Long Term Capital Gain (LTCG) even if the contract was held for less than a year.

    By Jesse,

  • SPY Short Puts vs. Put Spreads

    In this article I’ll be using the ORATS Wheel backtesting tool to compare the performance since 2007 of SPY short puts versus short put spreads. I’ll look at both risk and returns, and different ways of determining position size to adjust for the differences in risk between the two trades.

    By Jesse,

    • 1 comment
  • Signs that you Are Ready to Start Investing

    If you want to build your wealth, you have to make sure that you invest your money. If you put money into a savings account and don’t earn any interest from it, this won’t work for you in the long term. Your money will lose value because of inflation, and this is the last thing that you need. So when do you invest?

    By Kim,

  • One Year of Diversified leveraged Anchor

    I almost hate to keep saying it, but the Diversified Leveraged Anchor strategy keeps exceeding expectations and performing as designed. To remind our readers, Diversified Leveraged Anchor was created in April 2020 attempting to further increase performance, reduce risk, and to reduce volatility. 

    By cwelsh,

  • Should I Pay Off My Mortgage Early Or Invest?

    Paying off a home mortgage early is a popular financial goal. Most people feel a level financial peace when their home is paid off that is beneficial in many ways. The most common approach to paying off the mortgage early is directly making additional principal payments to the lender on a regular basis.

    By Jesse,

  • Option Order Execution Tips

    As a community of option traders, we all can relate to the occasional challenges of order execution. Best practices for avoiding errors as well as techniques for better potential execution will be the focus of this article.  Like countless others in the Steady Options community, I personally have traded thousands of option contracts over the last decade.

    By Jesse,

  • What Trading Can Offer To A Newcomer

    For any first-time investor, one of the most important questions to ask is “why are you doing this?”. Getting into investment can be thrilling and open up new worlds for you, but it can also be draining both physically and emotionally, with long days and sudden market moves always a genuine risk.

    By Kim,


  Report Article

We want to hear from you!

There are no comments to display.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account. It's easy and free!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Options Trading Blogs Expertido