Words you may need to know (see Glossary)
Basis is a way of measuring your investment in property for tax purposes. You must know the basis of your property to determine whether you have a gain or loss on its sale or other disposition.
Investment property you buy normally has an original basis equal to its cost. If you get property in some way other than buying it, such as by gift or inheritance, its fair market value may be important in figuring the basis. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010355
The basis of property you buy is usually its cost. The cost is the amount you pay in cash, debt obligations, or other property or services. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010356
If you buy property on a time-payment plan that charges little or no interest, the basis of your property is your stated purchase price, minus the amount considered to be unstated interest. You generally have unstated interest if your interest rate is less than the applicable federal rate. For more information, see Unstated Interest and Original Issue Discount (OID) in Publication 537. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010357
There are times when you must use a basis other than cost. In these cases, you may need to know the property's fair market value or the adjusted basis of the previous owner.taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010358
This is the price at which the property would change hands between a buyer and a seller, neither being forced to buy or sell and both having reasonable knowledge of all the relevant facts. Sales of similar property, around the same date, may be helpful in figuring fair market value. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010359
If you receive investment property for services, you must include the property's fair market value in income. The amount you include in income then becomes your basis in the property. If the services were performed for a price that was agreed to beforehand, this price will be accepted as the fair market value of the property if there is no evidence to the contrary. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010360
If you receive, as payment for services, property that is subject to certain restrictions, your basis in the property generally is its fair market value when it becomes substantially vested. Property becomes substantially vested when it is transferable or is no longer subject to substantial risk of forfeiture, whichever happens first. See Restricted Property in Publication 525 for more information. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010361
If you buy investment property at less than fair market value, as payment for services, you must include the difference in income. Your basis in the property is the price you pay plus the amount you include in income. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010362
If you received investment property in trade for other property, the basis of the new property is its fair market value at the time of the trade unless you received the property in a nontaxable trade. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010363
You trade A Company stock for B Company stock having a fair market value of $1,200. If the adjusted basis of the A Company stock is less than $1,200, you have a taxable gain on the trade. If the adjusted basis of the A Company stock is more than $1,200, you have a deductible loss on the trade. The basis of your B Company stock is $1,200. If you later sell the B Company stock for $1,300, you will have a gain of $100.taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010364
If you have a nontaxable trade, you do not recognize gain or loss until you dispose of the property you received in the trade. See Nontaxable Trades
The basis of property you received in a nontaxable or partly nontaxable trade is generally the same as the adjusted basis of the property you gave up. Increase this amount by any cash you paid, additional costs you had, and any gain recognized. Reduce this amount by any cash or unlike property you received, any loss recognized, and any liability of yours that was assumed or treated as assumed. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010365
If property is transferred to you from your spouse (or former spouse, if the transfer is incident to your divorce), your basis is the same as your spouse's or former spouse's adjusted basis just before the transfer. See Transfers Between Spouses
Recordkeeping. The transferor must give you the records necessary to determine the adjusted basis and holding period of the property as of the date of the transfer.
To figure your basis in property that you received as a gift, you must know its adjusted basis to the donor just before it was given to you, its fair market value at the time it was given to you, the amount of any gift tax paid on it, and the date it was given to you. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010368
If the fair market value of the property at the time of the gift was less than the donor's adjusted basis just before the gift, your basis for gain on its sale or other disposition is the same as the donor's adjusted basis plus or minus any required adjustments to basis during the period you hold the property. Your basis for loss is its fair market value at the time of the gift plus or minus any required adjustments to basis during the period you hold the property. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010369
If you use the basis for figuring a gain and the result is a loss, and then use the basis for figuring a loss and the result is a gain, you will have neither a gain nor a loss. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010370
You receive a gift of investment property having an adjusted basis of $10,000 at the time of the gift. The fair market value at the time of the gift is $9,000. You later sell the property for $9,500. You have neither gain nor loss. Your basis for figuring gain is $10,000, and $9,500 minus $10,000 results in a $500 loss. Your basis for figuring loss is $9,000, and $9,500 minus $9,000 results in a $500 gain.taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010371
If the fair market value of the property at the time of the gift was equal to or more than the donor's adjusted basis just before the gift, your basis for gain or loss on its sale or other disposition is the donor's adjusted basis plus or minus any required adjustments to basis during the period you hold the property. Also, you may be allowed to add to the donor's adjusted basis all or part of any gift tax paid, depending on the date of the gift. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010372
If you received property as a gift before 1977, your basis in the property is the donor's adjusted basis increased by the total gift tax paid on the gift. However, your basis cannot be more than the fair market value of the gift at the time it was given to you. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010373
You were given XYZ Company stock in 1976. At the time of the gift, the stock had a fair market value of $21,000. The donor's adjusted basis was $20,000. The donor paid a gift tax of $500 on the gift. Your basis for gain or loss is $20,500, the donor's adjusted basis plus the amount of gift tax paid.taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010374
The facts are the same as in Example 1 except that the gift tax paid was $1,500. Your basis is $21,000, the donor's adjusted basis plus the gift tax paid, but limited to the fair market value of the stock at the time of the gift.taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010375
If you received property as a gift after 1976, your basis is the donor's adjusted basis increased by the part of the gift tax paid that was for the net increase in value of the gift. You figure this part by multiplying the gift tax paid on the gift by a fraction. The numerator (top part) is the net increase in value of the gift and the denominator (bottom part) is the amount of the gift.
The net increase in value of the gift is the fair market value of the gift minus the donor's adjusted basis. The amount of the gift is its value for gift tax purposes after reduction by any annual exclusion and marital or charitable deduction that applies to the gift. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010376
In 2008, you received a gift of property from your mother. At the time of the gift, the property had a fair market value of $101,000 and an adjusted basis to her of $40,000. The amount of the gift for gift tax purposes was $89,000 ($101,000 minus the $12,000 annual exclusion), and your mother paid a gift tax of $21,000. You figure your basis in the following way:
|Fair market value||$101,000|
|Minus: Adjusted basis|| 40,000|
|Net increase in value of gift||$ 61,000|
|Gift tax paid||$ 21,000|
|Multiplied by .685 ($61,000 ÷ $89,000)||.685|
|Gift tax due to net increase in value||$ 14,385|
|Plus: Adjusted basis of property to |
|Your basis in the property||$ 54,385|
If you get property in a transfer that is partly a sale and partly a gift, your basis is the larger of the amount you paid for the property or the transferor's adjusted basis in the property at the time of the transfer. Add to that amount the amount of any gift tax paid on the gift, as described in the preceding discussion. For figuring loss, your basis is limited to the property's fair market value at the time of the transfer. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010378
For information on gift tax, see Publication 950, Introduction to Estate and Gift Taxes.taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010379
If you inherited property, your basis in that property generally is its fair market value (its appraised value on Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return) on:
- The date of the decedent's death, or
- The later alternate valuation date if the estate qualifies for, and elects to use, alternate valuation.
If no Form 706 was filed, use the appraised value on the date of death for state inheritance or transmission taxes. For stocks and bonds, if no Form 706 was filed and there are no state inheritance or transmission taxes, see the Form 706 instructions for figuring the fair market value of the stocks and bonds on the date of the decedent's death.
Your basis in certain appreciated property that you inherited is the decedent's adjusted basis in the property immediately before death rather than its fair market value. This applies to appreciated property that you or your spouse gave the decedent as a gift during the 1-year period ending on the date of death. Appreciated property is any property whose fair market value on the day you gave it to the decedent was more than its adjusted basis. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010381
See Publication 551, Basis of Assets, for more information on the basis of inherited property, including community property, property held by a surviving tenant in a joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety, a qualified joint interest, and a farm or closely held business.taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010382
Before you can figure any gain or loss on a sale, exchange, or other disposition of property or figure allowable depreciation, depletion, or amortization, you usually must make certain adjustments (increases and decreases) to the basis of the property. The result of these adjustments to the basis is the adjusted basis.
Adjustments to the basis of stocks and bonds are explained in the following discussion. For information about other adjustments to basis, see Publication 551.taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010383
The basis of stocks or bonds you own generally is the purchase price plus the costs of purchase, such as commissions and recording or transfer fees. If you acquired stock or bonds other than by purchase, your basis is usually determined by fair market value or the previous owner's adjusted basis as discussed earlier under Basis Other Than Cost
The basis of stock must be adjusted for certain events that occur after purchase. For example, if you receive more stock from nontaxable stock dividends or stock splits, you must reduce the basis of your original stock. You must also reduce your basis when you receive nondividend distributions (discussed in chapter 1). These distributions, up to the amount of your basis, are a nontaxable return of capital.
The IRS partners with companies that offer Schedule D software that can import trades from many brokerage firms and accounting software to help you keep track of your adjusted basis in securities. To find out more, go to http://www.irs.gov/efile
If you can adequately identify the shares of stock or the bonds you sold, their basis is the cost or other basis of the particular shares of stock or bonds. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010386
You will make an adequate identification if you show that certificates representing shares of stock from a lot that you bought on a certain date or for a certain price were delivered to your broker or other agent. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010387
If you have left the stock certificates with your broker or other agent, you will make an adequate identification if you:
- Tell your broker or other agent the particular stock to be sold or transferred at the time of the sale or transfer, and
- Receive a written confirmation of this from your broker or other agent within a reasonable time.
Stock identified this way is the stock sold or transferred even if stock certificates from a different lot are delivered to the broker or other agent.
If you bought stock in different lots at different times and you hold a single stock certificate for this stock, you will make an adequate identification if you:
- Tell your broker or other agent the particular stock to be sold or transferred when you deliver the certificate to your broker or other agent, and
- Receive a written confirmation of this from your broker or other agent within a reasonable time.
If you sell part of the stock represented by a single certificate directly to the buyer instead of through a broker, you will make an adequate identification if you keep a written record of the particular stock that you intend to sell. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010389
These methods of identification also apply to bonds sold or transferred. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010390
If you buy and sell securities at various times in varying quantities and you cannot adequately identify the shares you sell, the basis of the securities you sell is the basis of the securities you acquired first. Except for certain mutual fund shares, discussed later, you cannot use the average price per share to figure gain or loss on the sale of the shares.taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010391
You bought 100 shares of stock of XYZ Corporation in 1995 for $10 a share. In January 1996 you bought another 200 shares for $11 a share. In July 1996 you gave your son 50 shares. In December 1998 you bought 100 shares for $9 a share. In April 2008 you sold 130 shares. You cannot identify the shares you disposed of, so you must use the stock you acquired first to figure the basis. The shares of stock you gave your son had a basis of $500 (50 × $10). You figure the basis of the 130 shares of stock you sold in 2008 as follows:
|50 shares (50 × $10) balance of stock bought in 1995||$ 500|
|80 shares (80 × $11) stock bought in January 1996||880|
|Total basis of stock sold in 2008||$1,380|
The basis of shares in a mutual fund (or other regulated investment company) or a real estate investment trust (REIT) is generally figured in the same way as the basis of other stock. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010393
Your cost basis in a mutual fund often includes a sales fee, also known as a load charge. But, in certain cases, you cannot include the entire amount of a load charge in your basis if the charge gives you a reinvestment right. For more information, see Publication 564. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010394
You can choose to use the average basis of mutual fund shares if you acquired the shares at various times and prices and left them on deposit in an account kept by a custodian or agent. The methods you can use to figure average basis are explained in Publication 564. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010395
If you had to include in your income any undistributed capital gains of the mutual fund or REIT, increase your basis in the stock by the difference between the amount you included and the amount of tax paid for you by the fund or REIT. See Undistributed capital gains of mutual funds and REITs
under Capital Gain Distributions
in chapter 1.
If you participate in an automatic investment service, your basis for each share of stock, including fractional shares, bought by the bank or other agent is the purchase price plus a share of the broker's commission. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010397
If you participate in a dividend reinvestment plan and receive stock from the corporation at a discount, your basis is the full fair market value of the stock on the dividend payment date. You must include the amount of the discount in your income. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010398
If, before 1986, you excluded from income the value of stock you had received under a qualified public utility reinvestment plan, your basis in that stock is zero. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010399
Stock dividends are distributions made by a corporation of its own stock. Generally, stock dividends are not taxable to you. However, see Distributions of Stock and Stock Rights
under Dividends and Other Corporate Distributions
in chapter 1 for some exceptions. If the stock dividends are not taxable, you must divide your basis for the old stock between the old and new stock.
If the new stock you received as a nontaxable dividend is identical to the old stock on which the dividend was declared, divide the adjusted basis of the old stock by the number of shares of old and new stock. The result is your basis for each share of stock. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010401
You owned one share of common stock that you bought for $45. The corporation distributed two new shares of common stock for each share held. You then had three shares of common stock. Your basis in each share is $15 ($45 ÷ 3).taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010402
You owned two shares of common stock. You had bought one for $30 and the other for $45. The corporation distributed two new shares of common stock for each share held. You had six shares after the distribution—three with a basis of $10 each ($30 ÷ 3) and three with a basis of $15 each ($45 ÷ 3).taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010403
If the new stock you received as a nontaxable dividend is not identical to the old stock on which it was declared, the basis of the new stock is calculated differently. Divide the adjusted basis of the old stock between the old and the new stock in the ratio of the fair market value of each lot of stock to the total fair market value of both lots on the date of distribution of the new stock. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010404
You bought a share of common stock for $100. Later, the corporation distributed a share of preferred stock for each share of common stock held. At the date of distribution, your common stock had a fair market value of $150 and the preferred stock had a fair market value of $50. You figure the basis of the old and new stock by dividing your $100 basis between them. The basis of your common stock is $75 ($150/$200 × $100), and the basis of the new preferred stock is $25 ($50/$200 × $100).taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010405
Figure the basis of stock dividends received on stock you bought at various times and at different prices by allocating to each lot of stock the share of the stock dividends due to it. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010406
If your stock dividend is taxable when you receive it, the basis of your new stock is its fair market value on the date of distribution. The basis of your old stock does not change. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010407
Figure the basis of stock splits in the same way as stock dividends if identical stock is distributed on the stock held. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010408
A stock right is a right to acquire a corporation's stock. It may be exercised, it may be sold if it has a market value, or it may expire. Stock rights are rarely taxable when you receive them. See Distributions of Stock and Stock Rights
under Dividends and Other Corporate Distributions
in chapter 1.
If you receive stock rights that are taxable, the basis of the rights is their fair market value at the time of distribution. The basis of the old stock does not change. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010410
If you receive nontaxable stock rights and allow them to expire, they have no basis.
If you exercise or sell the nontaxable stock rights and if, at the time of distribution, the stock rights had a fair market value of 15% or more of the fair market value of the old stock, you must divide the adjusted basis of the old stock between the old stock and the stock rights. Use a ratio of the fair market value of each to the total fair market value of both at the time of distribution.
If the fair market value of the stock rights was less than 15%, their basis is zero. However, you can choose to divide the basis of the old stock between the old stock and the stock rights. To make the choice, attach a statement to your return for the year in which you received the rights, stating that you choose to divide the basis of the stock. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010411
If you exercise the stock rights, the basis of the new stock is its cost plus the basis of the stock rights exercised. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010412
You own 100 shares of ABC Company stock, which cost you $22 per share. The ABC Company gave you 10 nontaxable stock rights that would allow you to buy 10 more shares at $26 per share. At the time the stock rights were distributed, the stock had a market value of $30, not including the stock rights. Each stock right had a market value of $3. The market value of the stock rights was less than 15% of the market value of the stock, but you chose to divide the basis of your stock between the stock and the rights. You figure the basis of the rights and the basis of the old stock as follows:
|100 shares × $22 = $2,200, basis of old stock|| |
|100 shares × $30 = $3,000, market value of old stock|| |
|10 rights × $3 = $30, market value of rights|| |
|($3,000 ÷ $3,030) × $2,200 = $2,178.22, new basis of old stock|| |
|($30 ÷ $3,030) × $2,200 = $21.78, basis of rights|| |
If you sell the rights, the basis for figuring gain or loss is $2.18 ($21.78 ÷ 10) per right. If you exercise the rights, the basis of the stock you acquire is the price you pay ($26) plus the basis of the right exercised ($2.18), or $28.18 per share. The remaining basis of the old stock is $21.78 per share. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010413
In general, if you receive investment property as a distribution in partial or complete liquidation of a corporation and if you recognize gain or loss when you acquire the property, your basis in the property is its fair market value at the time of the distribution. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010414
You must increase your basis in stock of an S corporation by your pro rata
share of the following items.
- All income items of the S corporation, including tax-exempt income, that are separately stated and passed through to you as a shareholder.
- The nonseparately stated income of the S corporation.
- The amount of the deduction for depletion (other than oil and gas depletion) that is more than the basis of the property being depleted.
You must decrease your basis in stock of an S corporation by your pro rata
share of the following items.
- Distributions by the S corporation that were not included in your income.
- All loss and deduction items of the S corporation that are separately stated and passed through to you.
- Any nonseparately stated loss of the S corporation.
- Any expense of the S corporation that is not deductible in figuring its taxable income and not properly chargeable to a capital account.
- The amount of your deduction for depletion of oil and gas wells to the extent the deduction is not more than your share of the adjusted basis of the wells.
However, your basis in the stock cannot be reduced below zero.
If you bought this stock or interest as replacement property for publicly traded securities you sold at a gain, you must reduce the basis of the stock or interest by the amount of any postponed gain on that sale. See Rollover of Gain From Publicly Traded Securities
If you bought this stock as replacement property for other qualified small business stock you sold at a gain, you must reduce the basis of this replacement stock by the amount of any postponed gain on the earlier sale. See Gains on Qualified Small Business Stock
If you cannot deduct payments you make to a lender in lieu of dividends on stock used in a short sale, the amount you pay to the lender is a capital expense, and you must add it to the basis of the stock used to close the short sale. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010418
If you buy a bond at a premium, the premium is treated as part of your basis in the bond. If you choose to amortize the premium paid on a taxable bond, you must reduce the basis of the bond by the amortized part of the premium each year over the life of the bond.
Although you cannot deduct the premium on a tax-exempt bond, you must amortize it to determine your adjusted basis in the bond. You must reduce the basis of the bond by the premium you amortized for the period you held the bond. taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010419
If you include market discount on a bond in income currently, increase the basis of your bond by the amount of market discount you include in your income. See Market Discount Bonds
in chapter 1 for more information.
A bond purchased at par value (face amount) has no premium or discount. When you sell or otherwise dispose of the bond, you figure the gain or loss by comparing the bond proceeds to the purchase price of the bond.taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010421
You purchased a bond several years ago for its par value of $10,000. You sold the bond this year for $10,100. You have a gain of $100. However, if you had sold the bond for $9,900, you would have a loss of $100.taxmap/pubs/p550-021.htm#en_us_publink100010422
If you include acquisition discount on a short-term obligation in your income currently, increase the basis of the obligation by the amount of acquisition discount you include in your income. See Discount on Short-Term Obligations
in chapter 1 for more information.
OID on tax-exempt obligations is generally not taxable. However, when you dispose of a tax-exempt obligation issued after September 3, 1982, that you acquired after March 1, 1984, you must accrue OID on the obligation to determine its adjusted basis. The accrued OID is added to the basis of the obligation to determine your gain or loss.
For information on determining OID on a long-term obligation, see Debt Instruments Issued After July 1, 1982, and Before 1985 or Debt Instruments Issued After 1984, whichever applies, in Publication 1212 under Figuring OID on Long-Term Debt Instruments.
If the tax-exempt obligation has a maturity of 1 year or less, accrue OID under the rules for acquisition discount on short-term obligations. See Discount on Short-Term Obligations
in chapter 1.
If you acquired a stripped tax-exempt bond or coupon after October 22, 1986, you must accrue OID on it to determine its adjusted basis when you dispose of it. For stripped tax-exempt bonds or coupons acquired after June 10, 1987, part of this OID may be taxable. You accrue the OID on these obligations in the manner described in chapter 1 under Stripped Bonds and Coupons
Increase your basis in the stripped tax-exempt bond or coupon by the taxable and nontaxable accrued OID. Also increase your basis by the interest that accrued (but was not paid, and was not previously reflected in your basis) before the date you sold the bond or coupon. In addition, for bonds acquired after June 10, 1987, add to your basis any accrued market discount not previously reflected in basis.