This section discusses the tax treatment of gains and losses from different types of investment transactions. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172313
You need to classify your gains and losses as either ordinary or capital gains or losses. You then need to classify your capital gains and losses as either short term or long term. If you have long-term gains and losses, you must identify your 28% rate gains and losses. If you have a net capital gain, you must also identify any unrecaptured section 1250 gain.
The correct classification and identification helps you figure the limit on capital losses and the correct tax on capital gains. Reporting capital gains and losses is explained in chapter 16.taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172314
If you have a taxable gain or a deductible loss from a transaction, it may be either a capital gain or loss or an ordinary gain or loss, depending on the circumstances. Generally, a sale or trade of a capital asset (defined next) results in a capital gain or loss. A sale or trade of a noncapital asset generally results in ordinary gain or loss. Depending on the circumstances, a gain or loss on a sale or trade of property used in a trade or business may be treated as either capital or ordinary, as explained in Publication 544. In some situations, part of your gain or loss may be a capital gain or loss and part may be an ordinary gain or loss. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172315
For the most part, everything you own and use for personal purposes, pleasure, or investment is a capital asset. Some examples are:
- Stocks or bonds held in your personal account,
- A house owned and used by you and your family,
- Household furnishings,
- A car used for pleasure or commuting,
- Coin or stamp collections,
- Gems and jewelry, and
- Gold, silver, or any other metal.
Any property you own is a capital asset, except the following noncapital assets.
- Property held mainly for sale to customers or property that will physically become a part of the merchandise that is for sale to customers. For an exception, see Capital Asset Treatment for Self-Created Musical Works later.
- Depreciable property used in your trade or business, even if fully depreciated.
- Real property used in your trade or business.
- A copyright, a literary, musical, or artistic composition, a letter or memorandum, or similar property that is:
For an exception to this rule, see Capital Asset Treatment for Self-Created Musical Works later.
- Created by your personal efforts,
- Prepared or produced for you (in the case of a letter, memorandum, or similar property), or
- Acquired under circumstances (for example, by gift) entitling you to the basis of the person who created the property or for whom it was prepared or produced.
- Accounts or notes receivable acquired in the ordinary course of a trade or business for services rendered or from the sale of property described in (1).
- U.S. Government publications that you received from the government free or for less than the normal sales price, or that you acquired under circumstances entitling you to the basis of someone who received the publications free or for less than the normal sales price.
- Certain commodities derivative financial instruments held by commodities derivatives dealers.
- Hedging transactions, but only if the transaction is clearly identified as a hedging transaction before the close of the day on which it was acquired, originated, or entered into.
- Supplies of a type you regularly use or consume in the ordinary course of your trade or business.
Investment property is a capital asset. Any gain or loss from its sale or trade is generally a capital gain or loss. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172318
These are capital assets except when they are held for sale by a dealer. Any gain or loss you have from their sale or trade generally is a capital gain or loss.taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172319
All of these (including stock received as a dividend) are capital assets except when held for sale by a securities dealer. However, if you own small business stock, see Losses on Section 1244 (Small Business) Stock
and Losses on Small Business Investment Company Stock
in chapter 4 of Publication 550.
Property held for personal use only, rather than for investment, is a capital asset, and you must report a gain from its sale as a capital gain. However, you cannot deduct a loss from selling personal use property. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172322
You can elect to treat musical compositions and copyrights in musical works as capital assets when you sell or exchange them if:
- Your personal efforts created the property, or
- You acquired the property under circumstances (for example, by gift) entitling you to the basis of the person who created the property or for whom it was prepared or produced.
You must make a separate election for each musical composition (or copyright in a musical work) sold or exchanged during the tax year. You must make the election on or before the due date (including extensions) of the income tax return for the tax year of the sale or exchange. You must make the election on Schedule D (Form 1040) by treating the sale or exchange as the sale or exchange of a capital asset, according to the Schedule D and its instructions.
You can revoke the election if you have IRS approval. To get IRS approval, you must submit a request for a letter ruling under the appropriate IRS revenue procedure. See, for example, Rev. Proc. 2009-1, 2009-1 I.R.B. 1, available at www.irs.gov/irb/2009-01_IRB/ar06.html
. Alternatively, you are granted an automatic 6-month extension from the due date of your income tax return (excluding extensions) to revoke the election, provided you timely file your income tax return, and within this 6-month extension period, you file Form 1040X, Amended Individual Income Tax Return, that treats the sale or exchange as the sale or exchange of property that is not a capital asset.
Treat your gain or loss on the sale, redemption, or retirement of a bond or other debt instrument originally issued at a discount or bought at a discount as capital gain or loss, except as explained in the following discussions. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172324
Treat gains on short-term federal, state, or local government obligations (other than tax-exempt obligations) as ordinary income up to your ratable share of the acquisition discount. This treatment applies to obligations that have a fixed maturity date not more than 1 year from the date of issue. Acquisition discount is the stated redemption price at maturity minus your basis in the obligation.
However, do not treat these gains as income to the extent you previously included the discount in income. See Discount on Short-Term Obligations in chapter 1 of Publication 550. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172325
Treat gains on short-term nongovernment obligations as ordinary income up to your ratable share of original issue discount (OID). This treatment applies to obligations that have a fixed maturity date of not more than 1 year from the date of issue.
However, to the extent you previously included the discount in income, you do not have to include it in income again. See Discount on Short-Term Obligations in chapter 1 of Publication 550. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172326
If these bonds were originally issued at a discount before September 4, 1982, or you acquired them before March 2, 1984, treat your part of the OID as tax-exempt interest. To figure your gain or loss on the sale or trade of these bonds, reduce the amount realized by your part of the OID.
If the bonds were issued after September 3, 1982, and acquired after March 1, 1984, increase the adjusted basis by your part of the OID to figure gain or loss. For more information on the basis of these bonds, see Discounted Debt Instruments in chapter 4 of Publication 550.
Any gain from market discount is usually taxable on disposition or redemption of tax-exempt bonds. If you bought the bonds before May 1, 1993, the gain from market discount is capital gain. If you bought the bonds after April 30, 1993, the gain is ordinary income.
You figure the market discount by subtracting the price you paid for the bond from the sum of the original issue price of the bond and the amount of accumulated OID from the date of issue that represented interest to any earlier holders. For more information, see Market Discount Bonds in chapter 1 of Publication 550.
A loss on the sale or other disposition of a tax-exempt state or local government bond is deductible as a capital loss. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172327
If a state or local bond that was issued before June 9, 1980, is redeemed before it matures, the OID is not taxable to you.
If a state or local bond issued after June 8, 1980, is redeemed before it matures, the part of the OID that is earned while you hold the bond is not taxable to you. However, you must report the unearned part of the OID as a capital gain.taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172328
On July 1, 1998, the date of issue, you bought a 20-year, 6% municipal bond for $800. The face amount of the bond was $1,000. The $200 discount was OID. At the time the bond was issued, the issuer had no intention of redeeming it before it matured. The bond was callable at its face amount beginning 10 years after the issue date.
The issuer redeemed the bond at the end of 11 years (July 1, 2009) for its face amount of $1,000 plus accrued annual interest of $60. The OID earned during the time you held the bond, $73, is not taxable. The $60 accrued annual interest also is not taxable. However, you must report the unearned part of the OID ($127) as a capital gain.taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172329
If you sell, trade, or redeem for a gain one of these debt instruments, the part of your gain that is not more than your ratable share of the OID at the time of the sale or redemption is ordinary income. The rest of the gain is capital gain. If, however, there was an intention to call the debt instrument before maturity, all of your gain that is not more than the entire OID is treated as ordinary income at the time of the sale. This treatment of taxable gain also applies to corporate instruments issued after May 27, 1969, under a written commitment that was binding on May 27, 1969, and at all times thereafter. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172330
If you hold one of these debt instruments, you must include a part of the OID in your gross income each year that you own the instrument. Your basis in that debt instrument is increased by the amount of OID that you have included in your gross income. See Original Issue Discount (OID)
in chapter 7 for information about the OID that you must report on your tax return.
If you sell or trade the debt instrument before maturity, your gain is a capital gain. However, if at the time the instrument was originally issued there was an intention to call it before its maturity, your gain generally is ordinary income to the extent of the entire OID reduced by any amounts of OID previously includible in your income. In this case, the rest of the gain is a capital gain. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172332
If the debt instrument has market discount and you chose to include the discount in income as it accrued, increase your basis in the debt instrument by the accrued discount to figure capital gain or loss on its disposition. If you did not choose to include the discount in income as it accrued, you must report gain as ordinary interest income up to the instrument's accrued market discount. The rest of the gain is capital gain. See Market Discount Bonds in chapter 1 of Publication 550.
A different rule applies to market discount bonds issued before July 19, 1984, and purchased by you before May 1, 1993. See Market discount bonds under Discounted Debt Instruments in chapter 4 of Publication 550. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172333
Any amount that you receive on the retirement of a debt instrument is treated in the same way as if you had sold or traded that instrument. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172334
If you hold an obligation of an individual that was issued with OID after March 1, 1984, you generally must include the OID in your income currently, and your gain or loss on its sale or retirement is generally capital gain or loss. An exception to this treatment applies if the obligation is a loan between individuals and all of the following requirements are met.
- The lender is not in the business of lending money.
- The amount of the loan, plus the amount of any outstanding prior loans, is $10,000 or less.
- Avoiding federal tax is not one of the principal purposes of the loan.
If the exception applies, or the obligation was issued before March 2, 1984, you do not include the OID in your income currently. When you sell or redeem the obligation, the part of your gain that is not more than your accrued share of the OID at that time is ordinary income. The rest of the gain, if any, is capital gain. Any loss on the sale or redemption is capital loss. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172335
If you lose money you have on deposit in a bank, credit union, or other financial institution that becomes insolvent or bankrupt, you may be able to deduct your loss in one of three ways.
- Ordinary loss,
- Casualty loss, or
- Nonbusiness bad debt (short-term capital loss).
For more information, see Deposit in Insolvent or Bankrupt Financial Institution,
in chapter 4 of Publication 550.
The part of any gain on the sale of an annuity contract before its maturity date that is based on interest accumulated on the contract is ordinary income. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172337
You can deduct as an ordinary loss, rather than as a capital loss, your loss on the sale, trade, or worthlessness of section 1244 stock. Report the loss on Form 4797, line 10.
Any gain on section 1244 stock is a capital gain if the stock is a capital asset in your hands. Report the gain on Schedule D (Form 1040). See Losses on Section 1244 (Small Business) Stock in chapter 4 of Publication 550. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172338
See Losses on Small Business Investment Company Stock in chapter 4 of Publication 550.taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172339
If you sold or traded investment property, you must determine your holding period for the property. Your holding period determines whether any capital gain or loss was a short-term or long-term capital gain or loss. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172340
If you hold investment property more than 1 year, any capital gain or loss is a long-term capital gain or loss. If you hold the property 1 year or less, any capital gain or loss is a short-term capital gain or loss.
To determine how long you held the investment property, begin counting on the date after the day you acquired the property. The day you disposed of the property is part of your holding period. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172341
If you bought investment property on February 5, 2008, and sold it on February 5, 2009, your holding period is not more than 1 year and you have a short-term capital gain or loss. If you sold it on February 6, 2009, your holding period is more than 1 year and you will have a long-term capital gain or loss. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172342
For securities traded on an established securities market, your holding period begins the day after the trade date you bought the securities, and ends on the trade date you sold them.
Do not confuse the trade date with the settlement date, which is the date by which the stock must be delivered and payment must be made.
You are a cash method, calendar year taxpayer. You sold stock at a gain on December 29, 2009. According to the rules of the stock exchange, the sale was closed by delivery of the stock 3 trading days after the sale, on January 4, 2010. You received payment of the sales price on that same day. Report your gain on your 2009 return, even though you received the payment in 2010. The gain is long term or short term depending on whether you held the stock more than 1 year. Your holding period ended on December 29. If you had sold the stock at a loss, you would also report it on your 2009 return.taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000234838
The holding period of U.S. Treasury notes and bonds sold at auction on the basis of yield starts the day after the Secretary of the Treasury, through news releases, gives notification of acceptance to successful bidders. The holding period of U.S. Treasury notes and bonds sold through an offering on a subscription basis at a specified yield starts the day after the subscription is submitted.taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172345
In determining your holding period for shares bought by the bank or other agent, full shares are considered bought first and any fractional shares are considered bought last. Your holding period starts on the day after the bank's purchase date. If a share was bought over more than one purchase date, your holding period for that share is a split holding period. A part of the share is considered to have been bought on each date that stock was bought by the bank with the proceeds of available funds. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172346
If you acquire investment property in a trade for other investment property and your basis for the new property is determined, in whole or in part, by your basis in the old property, your holding period for the new property begins on the day following the date you acquired the old property. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172347
If you receive a gift of property and your basis is determined by the donor's adjusted basis, your holding period is considered to have started on the same day the donor's holding period started.
If your basis is determined by the fair market value of the property, your holding period starts on the day after the date of the gift. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172348
If you inherit investment property, your capital gain or loss on any later disposition of that property is treated as a long-term capital gain or loss. This is true regardless of how long you actually held the property. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172349
To figure how long you have held real property bought under an unconditional contract, begin counting on the day after you received title to it or on the day after you took possession of it and assumed the burdens and privileges of ownership, whichever happened first. However, taking delivery or possession of real property under an option agreement is not enough to start the holding period. The holding period cannot start until there is an actual contract of sale. The holding period of the seller cannot end before that time. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000234839
If you sell real property but keep a security interest in it, and then later repossess the property under the terms of the sales contract, your holding period for a later sale includes the period you held the property before the original sale and the period after the repossession. Your holding period does not include the time between the original sale and the repossession. That is, it does not include the period during which the first buyer held the property.taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172350
The holding period for stock you received as a taxable stock dividend begins on the date of distribution.
The holding period for new stock you received as a nontaxable stock dividend begins on the same day as the holding period of the old stock. This rule also applies to stock acquired in a "spin-off," which is a distribution of stock or securities in a controlled corporation. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172351
Your holding period for nontaxable stock rights begins on the same day as the holding period of the underlying stock. The holding period for stock acquired through the exercise of stock rights begins on the date the right was exercised. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172352
If someone owes you money that you cannot collect, you have a bad debt. You may be able to deduct the amount owed to you when you figure your tax for the year the debt becomes worthless.
Generally, nonbusiness bad debts are bad debts that did not come from operating your trade or business, and are deductible as short-term capital losses. To be deductible, nonbusiness bad debts must be totally worthless. You cannot deduct a partly worthless nonbusiness debt. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172353
A debt must be genuine for you to deduct a loss. A debt is genuine if it arises from a debtor-creditor relationship based on a valid and enforceable obligation to repay a fixed or determinable sum of money. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172354
To deduct a bad debt, you must have a basis in it—that is, you must have already included the amount in your income or loaned out your cash. For example, you cannot claim a bad debt deduction for court-ordered child support not paid to you by your former spouse. If you are a cash method taxpayer (as most individuals are), you generally cannot take a bad debt deduction for unpaid salaries, wages, rents, fees, interest, dividends, and similar items. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000234840
You can take a bad debt deduction only in the year the debt becomes worthless. You do not have to wait until a debt is due to determine whether it is worthless. A debt becomes worthless when there is no longer any chance that the amount owed will be paid.
It is not necessary to go to court if you can show that a judgment from the court would be uncollectible. You must only show that you have taken reasonable steps to collect the debt. Bankruptcy of your debtor is generally good evidence of the worthlessness of at least a part of an unsecured and unpreferred debt.taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172355
Deduct nonbusiness bad debts as short-term capital losses on Schedule D (Form 1040).
On Schedule D, Part I, line 1, enter the name of the debtor and "statement attached" in column (a). Enter the amount of the bad debt in parentheses in column (f). Use a separate line for each bad debt.
For each bad debt, attach a statement to your return that contains:
- A description of the debt, including the amount, and the date it became due,
- The name of the debtor, and any business or family relationship between you and the debtor,
- The efforts you made to collect the debt, and
- Why you decided the debt was worthless. For example, you could show that the borrower has declared bankruptcy, or that legal action to collect would probably not result in payment of any part of the debt.
If you do not deduct a bad debt on your original return for the year it becomes worthless, you can file a claim for a credit or refund due to the bad debt. To do this, use Form 1040X to amend your return for the year the debt became worthless. You must file it within 7 years from the date your original return for that year had to be filed, or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. For more information about filing a claim, see Amended Returns and Claims for Refund
in chapter 1.
For more information, see Nonbusiness Bad Debts in Publication 550. For information on business bad debts, see chapter 10 of Publication 535, Business Expenses.taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172359
You cannot deduct losses from sales or trades of stock or securities in a wash sale.
A wash sale occurs when you sell or trade stock or securities at a loss and within 30 days before or after the sale you:
- Buy substantially identical stock or securities,
- Acquire substantially identical stock or securities in a fully taxable trade,
- Acquire a contract or option to buy substantially identical stock or securities, or
- Acquire substantially identical stock for your individual retirement account (IRA) or Roth IRA.
If your loss was disallowed because of the wash sale rules, add the disallowed loss to the cost of the new stock or securities (except in (4) above). The result is your basis in the new stock or securities. This adjustment postpones the loss deduction until the disposition of the new stock or securities. Your holding period for the new stock or securities begins on the same day as the holding period of the stock or securities sold.
For more information, see Wash Sales, in chapter 4 of Publication 550.taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172360
You may qualify for a tax-free rollover of certain gains from the sale of publicly traded securities. This means that if you buy certain replacement property and make the choice described in this section, you postpone part or all of your gain.
You postpone the gain by adjusting the basis of the replacement property as described in Basis of replacement property
, later. This postpones your gain until the year you dispose of the replacement property.
You qualify to make this choice if you meet all the following tests.
- You sell publicly traded securities at a gain. Publicly traded securities are securities traded on an established securities market.
- Your gain from the sale is a capital gain.
- During the 60-day period beginning on the date of the sale, you buy replacement property. This replacement property must be either common stock or a partnership interest in a specialized small business investment company (SSBIC). This is any partnership or corporation licensed by the Small Business Administration under section 301(d) of the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, as in effect on May 13, 1993.
If you make the choice described in this section, you must recognize gain only up to the following amount.
- The amount realized on the sale, minus
- The cost of any common stock or partnership interest in an SSBIC that you bought during the 60-day period beginning on the date of sale (and did not previously take into account on an earlier sale of publicly traded securities).
If this amount is less than the amount of your gain, you can postpone the rest of your gain, subject to the limit described next. If this amount is equal to or more than the amount of your gain, you must recognize the full amount of your gain.
The amount of gain you can postpone each year is limited to the smaller of:
- $50,000 ($25,000 if you are married and file a separate return), or
- $500,000 ($250,000 if you are married and file a separate return), minus the amount of gain you postponed for all earlier years.
You must subtract the amount of postponed gain from the basis of your replacement property. taxmap/pub17/p17-080.htm#en_us_publink1000172365
See chapter 4 of Publication 550 for details on how to report and postpone the gain.