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Note. Section references within this publication are to the Internal Revenue Code and regulation references are to the Income Tax Regulations under the Code.
An installment sale is a sale of property where you receive at least one payment after the tax year of the sale. If you realize a gain on an installment sale, you may be able to report part of your gain when you receive each payment. This method of reporting gain is called the installment method. You cannot use the installment method to report a loss. You can choose to report all of your gain in the year of sale.
This publication discusses the general rules that apply to using the installment method. It also discusses more complex rules that apply only when certain conditions exist or certain types of property are sold. There are two examples of reporting installment sale income on Form 6252, Installment Sale Income, near the end of the publication.
If you sell your home or other nonbusiness property under an installment plan, you may need to read only the General Rules. If you sell business or rental property or have a like-kind exchange or other complex situation, also see the appropriate discussion under Other Rules.taxmap/pubs/p537-000.htm#en_us_publink1000221588
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You may want to see:
Publication 523 Selling Your Home 538 Accounting Periods and Methods 541 Partnerships 544 Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets 550 Investment Income and Expenses 551 Basis of Assets 925 Passive Activity and At-Risk Rules 4681 Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions, and Abandonments Form (and Instructions) 4797: Sales of Business Property 6252: Installment Sale Income
See How To Get Tax Help near the end of this publication for information about getting publications and forms.taxmap/pubs/p537-000.htm#en_us_publink1000221591
An installment sale is a sale of property where you receive at least one payment after the tax year of the sale.
The rules for installment sales do not apply if you elect not to use the installment method, see Electing Out of the Installment Method, under Other Rules, later, or the transaction is one for which the installment method may not apply.
The installment sales method cannot be used for the following.taxmap/pubs/p537-000.htm#en_us_publink1000221592
The regular sale of inventory of personal property does not qualify as an installment sale even if you receive a payment after the year of sale. See Sale of a Business under Other Rules, later. taxmap/pubs/p537-000.htm#en_us_publink1000221593
Sales of personal property by a person who regularly sells or otherwise disposes of the same type of personal property on the installment plan are not installment sales. This rule also applies to real property held for sale to customers in the ordinary course of a trade or business. However, the rule does not apply to an installment sale of property used or produced in farming. taxmap/pubs/p537-000.htm#en_us_publink1000221594
Dealers of time-shares and residential lots can treat certain sales as installment sales and report them under the installment method if they elect to pay a special interest charge. For more information, see section 453(l) of the Internal Revenue Code.taxmap/pubs/p537-000.htm#en_us_publink1000221595
You cannot use the installment method to report gain from the sale of stock or securities traded on an established securities market. You must report the entire gain on the sale in the year in which the trade date falls. taxmap/pubs/p537-000.htm#en_us_publink1000221596
The buyer's obligation to make future payments to you can be in the form of a deed of trust, note, land contract, mortgage, or other evidence of the buyer's debt to you.