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IRS.gov Website
Publication 550
taxmap/pubs/p550-022.htm#en_us_publink100010426

How To Figure 
Gain or Loss(p45)

rule
You figure gain or loss on a sale or trade of property by comparing the amount you realize with the adjusted basis of the property.
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Gain.(p45)

rule
If the amount you realize from a sale or trade is more than the adjusted basis of the property you transfer, the difference is a gain.
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Loss.(p45)

rule
If the adjusted basis of the property you transfer is more than the amount you realize, the difference is a loss.
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Amount realized.(p45)

rule
The amount you realize from a sale or trade of property is everything you receive for the property minus your expenses of sale (such as redemption fees, sales commissions, sales charges, or exit fees). Amount realized includes the money you receive plus the fair market value of any property or services you receive.
If you finance the buyer's purchase of your property and the debt instrument does not provide for adequate stated interest, the unstated interest that you must report as ordinary income will reduce the amount realized from the sale. For more information, see Publication 537.
If a buyer of property issues a debt instrument to the seller of the property, the amount realized is determined by reference to the issue price of the debt instrument, which may or may not be the fair market value of the debt instrument. See Regulations section 1.1001-1(g). However, if the debt instrument was previously issued by a third party (one not part of the sale transaction), the fair market value of the debt instrument is used to determine the amount realized.
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Fair market value.(p45)
Fair market value is the price at which 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.
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Example.(p45)

You trade A Company stock with an adjusted basis of $7,000 for B Company stock with a fair market value of $10,000, which is your amount realized. Your gain is $3,000 ($10,000 – $7,000). If you also receive a note for $6,000 that has an issue price of $6,000, your gain is $9,000 ($10,000 + $6,000 – $7,000).
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Debt paid off.(p45)
A debt against the property, or against you, that is paid off as a part of the transaction or that is assumed by the buyer must be included in the amount realized. This is true even if neither you nor the buyer is personally liable for the debt. For example, if you sell or trade property that is subject to a nonrecourse loan, the amount you realize generally includes the full amount of the note assumed by the buyer even if the amount of the note is more than the fair market value of the property.
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Example.(p45)

You sell stock that you had pledged as security for a bank loan of $8,000. Your basis in the stock is $6,000. The buyer pays off your bank loan and pays you $20,000 in cash. The amount realized is $28,000 ($20,000 + $8,000). Your gain is $22,000 ($28,000 – $6,000).
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Payment of cash.(p45)
If you trade property and cash for other property, the amount you realize is the fair market value of the property you receive. Determine your gain or loss by subtracting the cash you pay and the adjusted basis of the property you trade in from the amount you realize. If the result is a positive number, it is a gain. If the result is a negative number, it is a loss.
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No gain or loss.(p45)

rule
You may have to use a basis for figuring gain that is different from the basis used for figuring loss. In this case, you may have neither a gain nor a loss. See No gain or loss in the discussion on the basis of property you received as a gift under Basis Other Than Cost, earlier.
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Special Rules for Mutual Funds(p45)

rule
To figure your gain or loss when you dispose of mutual fund shares, you need to determine which shares were sold and the basis of those shares. If your shares in a mutual fund were acquired all on the same day and for the same price, figuring their basis is not difficult. However, shares are generally acquired at various times, in various quantities, and at various prices. Therefore, figuring your basis can be more difficult. You can choose to use either a cost basis or an average basis to figure your gain or loss.
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Cost Basis(p45)

rule
You can figure your gain or loss using a cost basis only if you did not previously use an average basis for a sale, exchange, or redemption of other shares in the same mutual fund.
To figure cost basis, you can choose one of the following methods.
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Specific share identification.(p45)

rule
If you adequately identify the shares you sold, you can use the adjusted basis of those particular shares to figure your gain or loss.
You will adequately identify your mutual fund shares, even if you bought the shares in different lots at various prices and times, if you:
  1. Specify to your broker or other agent the particular shares to be sold or transferred at the time of the sale or transfer, and
  2. Receive confirmation in writing from your broker or other agent within a reasonable time of your specification of the particular shares sold or transferred.
You continue to have the burden of proving your basis in the specified shares at the time of sale or transfer.
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First-in first-out (FIFO).(p46)

rule
If your shares were acquired at different times or at different prices and you cannot identify which shares you sold, use the basis of the shares you acquired first as the basis of the shares sold. In other words, the oldest shares you own are considered sold first. You should keep a separate record of each purchase and any dispositions of the shares until all shares purchased at the same time have been disposed of completely.
Table 4-2 (on the next page) illustrates the use of the FIFO method to figure the cost basis of shares sold, compared with the use of the single-category method to figure average basis (discussed next).
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Average Basis(p46)

rule
You can figure your gain or loss using an average basis only if you acquired the shares at various times and prices, and you left the shares on deposit in an account handled by a custodian or agent who acquires or redeems those shares.
To figure average basis, you can use one of the following methods.
Once you elect to use an average basis, you must continue to use it for all accounts in the same fund. (You must also continue to use the same method.) However, you may use the cost basis (or a different method of figuring the average basis) for shares in other funds, even those within the same family of funds.
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Example.(p46)

You own two accounts that hold shares of the income fund issued by Company A. You also own 100 shares of the growth fund issued by Company A. If you elect to use average basis for the first account of the income fund, you must use average basis for the second account. However, you may use cost basis for the growth fund.
Deposit
You may be able to find the average basis of your shares from information provided by the fund.
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Single-category method.(p46)

rule
Under the single-category method, you find the average basis of all shares owned at the time of each disposition, regardless of how long you owned them. Include shares acquired with reinvested dividends or capital gain distributions.
Table 4-2 illustrates the use of the single-category method to figure the average basis of shares sold, compared with the use of the FIFO method to figure cost basis (discussed earlier).
Even though you include all unsold shares of a fund in a single category to compute average basis, you may have both short-term and long-term gains or losses when you sell these shares. To determine your holding period, the shares disposed of are considered to be those acquired first.
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Example.(p46)

You bought 400 shares in the LJO Mutual Fund: 200 shares on May 14, 2009, and 200 shares on May 13, 2010. On November 10, 2010, you sold 300 shares. The basis of all 300 shares sold is the same, but you held 200 shares for more than 1 year, so your gain or loss on those shares is long term. You held 100 shares for 1 year or less, so your gain or loss on those shares is short term.
How to figure the basis of shares sold. To figure the basis of shares you sell, use the steps in the following worksheet.
1.Enter the total adjusted basis of all the shares you owned in the fund just before the sale. (If you made an earlier sale of shares in this fund, add the adjusted basis of any shares you still owned after the last sale and the adjusted basis of any shares you acquired after that sale.) $
2.Enter the total number of shares you owned in the fund just before the sale
3.Divide the amount on line 1 by the amount on line 2. This is your average basis per share$
4.Enter the number of shares you sold
5.Multiply the amount on line 3 by the amount on line 4. This is the basis of the shares you sold$
taxmap/pubs/p550-022.htm#en_us_publink1000250017

Example 1.(p47)

You bought 300 shares in the LJP Mutual Fund: 100 shares in 2007 for $1,000 ($10 per share); 100 shares in 2008 for $1,200 ($12 per share); and 100 shares in 2009 for $2,600 ($26 per share). Thus, the total cost of your shares was $4,800 ($1,000 + $1,200 + $2,600). On May 11, 2010, you sold 150 shares. The basis of the shares you sold is $2,400 ($16 per share), figured as follows.
1.Enter the total adjusted basis of all the shares you owned in the fund just before the sale. (If you made an earlier sale of shares in this fund, add the adjusted basis of any shares you still owned after the last sale and the adjusted basis of any shares you acquired after that sale.) $4,800
2.Enter the total number of shares you owned in the fund just before the sale300
3.Divide the amount on line 1 by the amount on line 2. This is your average basis per share$  16
4.Enter the number of shares you sold150
5.Multiply the amount on line 3 by the amount on line 4. This is the basis of the shares you sold$2,400
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Remaining shares.(p47)
The average basis of the shares you still hold after a sale of some of your shares is the same as the average basis of the shares sold. The next time you make a sale, your average basis will still be the same, unless you have acquired additional shares (or have made a subsequent adjustment to basis).
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Example 2.(p47)

The facts are the same as in Example 1, except that you sold an additional 50 shares on December 17, 2010. You do not need to recompute the average basis of the 150 shares you owned at that time because you acquired or sold no shares, and had no other adjustments to basis, since the last sale. Your basis is the $16 per share figured earlier.
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Example 3.(p47)

The facts are the same as in Example 1, except that you bought an additional 150 shares at $14 a share on September 17, 2010, and then sold 50 shares on December 20, 2010. The total adjusted basis of all the shares you owned just before the sale is $4,500, figured as follows.
1.Basis of remaining shares ($16 x 150)$2,400
2.Cost of shares acquired 9/17/10 ($14 x 150)$2,100
3.Total adjusted basis of all shares owned ($2,400 + $2,100)$4,500
   
The basis of the shares sold is $750 ($15 a share), figured as follows.
1.Enter the total adjusted basis of all the shares you owned in the fund just before the sale. (If you made an earlier sale of shares in this fund, add the adjusted basis of any shares you still owned after the last sale and the adjusted basis of any shares you acquired after that sale.) $4,500
2.Enter the total number of shares you owned in the fund just before the sale300
3.Divide the amount on line 1 by the amount on line 2. This is your average basis per share$  15
4.Enter the number of shares you sold50
5.Multiply the amount on line 3 by the amount on line 4. This is the basis of the shares you sold$ 750
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Double-category method.(p47)

rule
In the double-category method, all shares in an account at the time of each disposition are divided into two categories: short term and long term. Shares held 1 year or less are short term. Shares held longer than 1 year are long term.
The basis of each share in a category is the average basis for that category. This is the total remaining basis of all shares in that category at the time of disposition divided by the total shares in the category at that time. To use this method, you specify, to the custodian or agent handling your account, from which category the shares are to be sold or transferred. The custodian or agent must confirm in writing your specification. If you do not specify or receive confirmation, you must first charge the shares sold against the long-term category and then charge any remaining shares sold against the short-term category.
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Changing categories.(p47)
After you have held a mutual fund share for more than 1 year, you must transfer that share from the short-term category to the long-term category. The basis of a transferred share is its actual cost or other basis to you unless some of the shares in the short-term category have been disposed of. In that case, the basis of a transferred share is the average basis of the undisposed shares at the time of the most recent disposition from this category.
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Making the choice.(p47)

rule
You choose to use the average basis of mutual fund shares by clearly showing on your income tax return, for each year the choice applies, that you used an average basis in reporting gain or loss from the sale or transfer of the shares. You must specify whether you used the single-category method or the double-category method in determining average basis. This choice is effective until you get permission from the IRS to revoke it.
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Shares received as gift.(p48)
If your account includes shares that you received by gift, and the fair market value of the shares at the time of the gift was not more than the donor's basis, special rules apply. You cannot choose to use the average basis for the account unless you submit a statement with your initial choice. It must state that the basis used in figuring the average basis of the gift shares will be the FMV at the time of the gift. This statement applies to gift shares received before and after making the choice, as long as the choice to use the average basis is in effect.
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Table 4-2. Example of How To Figure Basis of Shares Sold

This is an example showing two different ways to figure basis. It compares the cost basis using the FIFO method with the average basis using the single-category method.
DateActionShare PriceNo. of SharesTotal Shares Owned
2/6/09Invest $4,000$25160160
8/7/09Invest $4,800$20240400
12/18/09Reinvest $300 dividend$3010410
10/1/10Sell 210 shares for $6,720$32210200
 
COST BASIS
(FIFO)
To figure the basis of the 210 shares sold on 10/1/10, use the share price of the first 210 shares you bought, namely the 160 shares you purchased on 2/6/09 and 50 of those purchased on 8/7/09.
 
  $4,000 (cost of 160 shares on 2/6/09)
 +$1,000 (cost of 50 shares on 8/7/09)
 Basis =$5,000
 
AVERAGE BASIS (single-category) To figure the basis of the 210 shares sold on 10/1/10, use the average basis of all 410 shares owned on 10/1/10.
  $9,100 (cost of 410 shares)
  ÷  410 (number of shares)
  $22.20 (average basis per share)
 
  $22.20 
  × 210
 Basis =$4,662
Where Refund
When there is a sale, exchange, or redemption of your shares in a fund, keep the confirmation statement you receive. The statement shows the price you received for the shares and other information you need to report gain or loss on your return.