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IRS.gov Website
Publication 537
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221597

General Rules(p2)

rule
If a sale qualifies as an installment sale, the gain must be reported under the installment method unless you elect out of using the installment method.
See Electing Out of the Installment Method, later, for information on recognizing the entire gain in the year of sale.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221598

Sale at a loss.(p2)

rule
If your sale results in a loss, you cannot use the installment method. If the loss is on an installment sale of business or investment property, you can deduct it only in the tax year of sale.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221599

Unstated interest.(p2)

rule
If your sale calls for payments in a later year and the sales contract provides for little or no interest, you may have to figure unstated interest, even if you have a loss. See Unstated Interest and Original Issue Discount (OID), later.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221600

Figuring Installment
Sale Income(p2)

rule
You can use the following discussions or Form 6252 to help you determine gross profit, contract price, gross profit percentage, and installment sale income.
Each payment on an installment sale usually consists of the following three parts. In each year you receive a payment, you must include in income both the interest part and the part that is your gain on the sale. You do not include in income the part that is the return of your basis in the property. Basis is the amount of your investment in the property for installment sale purposes.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221601

Interest Income(p2)

rule
You must report interest as ordinary income. Interest is generally not included in a down payment. However, you may have to treat part of each later payment as interest, even if it is not called interest in your agreement with the buyer. Interest provided in the agreement is called stated interest. If the agreement does not provide for enough stated interest, there may be unstated interest or original issue discount. See Unstated Interest and Original Issue Discount (OID), later.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221602

Adjusted Basis and Installment Sale Income (Gain on Sale)(p3)

rule
After you have determined how much of each payment to treat as interest, you treat the rest of each payment as if it were made up of two parts.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221603

Figuring adjusted basis for installment sale purposes.(p3)

rule
You can use Worksheet A to figure your adjusted basis in the property for installment sale purposes. When you have completed the worksheet, you will also have determined the gross profit percentage necessary to figure your installment sale income (gain) for this year.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000291529
PencilWorksheet A. Figuring Adjusted Basis and Gross Profit Percentage
1.Enter the selling price for the property
2.Enter your adjusted basis for the property 
3.Enter your selling expenses 
4.Enter any depreciation recapture 
5.Add lines 2, 3, and 4.
This is your adjusted basis for
installment sale purposes
6.Subtract line 5 from line 1. If zero or less, enter -0-.
This is your gross profit
 If the amount entered on line 6 is zero, stop here. You cannot use the installment method.  
7.Enter the contract price for the property
8.Divide line 6 by line 7. This is your gross profit percentage
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221606
Selling price.(p3)
The selling price is the total cost of the property to the buyer and includes any of the following.
Do not include stated interest, unstated interest, any amount recomputed or recharacterized as interest, or original issue discount.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221607
Adjusted basis for installment sale purposes.(p3)
Your adjusted basis is the total of the following three items.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221608
Adjusted basis.(p3)
Basis is your investment in the property for installment sale purposes. The way you figure basis depends on how you acquire the property. The basis of property you buy is generally its cost. The basis of property you inherit, receive as a gift, build yourself, or receive in a tax-free exchange is figured differently.
While you own property, various events may change your original basis. Some events, such as adding rooms or making permanent improvements, increase basis. Others, such as deductible casualty losses or depreciation previously allowed or allowable, decrease basis. The result is adjusted basis.
For more information on how to figure basis and adjusted basis, see Publication 551. For more information regarding your basis in property you inherited from someone who died in 2010 and whose executor filed Form 8939, Allocation of Increase in Basis for Property Acquired From a Decedent, see Publication 4895, at www.irs.gov/publications/p4895.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221609
Selling expenses.(p3)
Selling expenses relate to the sale of the property. They include commissions, attorney fees, and any other expenses paid on the sale. Selling expenses are added to the basis of the sold property.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221610
Depreciation recapture.(p3)
If the property you sold was depreciable property, you may need to recapture part of the gain on the sale as ordinary income. See Depreciation Recapture Income, later.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221611
Gross profit.(p3)
Gross profit is the total gain you report on the installment method.
To figure your gross profit, subtract your adjusted basis for installment sale purposes from the selling price. If the property you sold was your home, subtract from the gross profit any gain you can exclude. See Sale of your home, later.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221612
Contract price.(p3)
Contract price equals:
  1. The selling price, minus
  2. The mortgages, debts, and other liabilities assumed or taken by the buyer, plus
  3. The amount by which the mortgages, debts, and other liabilities assumed or taken by the buyer exceed your adjusted basis for installment sale purposes.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221613
Gross profit percentage.(p4)
A certain percentage of each payment (after subtracting interest) is reported as installment sale income. This percentage is called the gross profit percentage and is figured by dividing your gross profit from the sale by the contract price.
The gross profit percentage generally remains the same for each payment you receive. However, see the Example under Selling Price Reduced, later, for a situation where the gross profit percentage changes.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000233643

Example.(p4)

You sell property at a contract price of $6,000 and your gross profit is $1,500. Your gross profit percentage is 25% ($1,500 ÷ $6,000). After subtracting interest, you report 25% of each payment, including the down payment, as installment sale income from the sale for the tax year you receive the payment. The remainder (balance) of each payment is the tax-free return of your adjusted basis.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221614

Amount to report as installment sale income.(p4)

rule
Multiply the payments you receive each year (less interest) by the gross profit percentage. The result is your installment sale income for the tax year. In certain circumstances, you may be treated as having received a payment, even though you received nothing directly. A receipt of property or the assumption of a mortgage on the property sold may be treated as a payment. For a detailed discussion, see Payments Received or Considered Received, later.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221616

Selling Price Reduced(p4)

rule
If the selling price is reduced at a later date, the gross profit on the sale also will change. You then must refigure the gross profit percentage for the remaining payments. Refigure your gross profit using Worksheet B. You will spread any remaining gain over future installments.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000307509
PencilWorksheet B. New Gross Profit Percentage — Selling Price Reduced
 1.Enter the reduced selling
price for the property
 2.Enter your adjusted
basis for the
property
 
 3.Enter your selling
expenses
 
 4.Enter any depreciation
recapture
 
 5.Add lines 2, 3, and 4
 6.Subtract line 5 from line 1.
This is your adjusted
gross profit
 7.Enter any installment sale
income reported in
prior year(s)
 8.Subtract line 7 from line 6
 9.Future installments
10.Divide line 8 by line 9.
This is your new gross
profit percentage*
* Apply this percentage to all future payments to determine how much of each of those payments is installment sale income.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221620

Example.(p4)

In 2013, you sold land with a basis of $40,000 for $100,000. Your gross profit was $60,000. You received a $20,000 down payment and the buyer's note for $80,000. The note provides for four annual payments of $20,000 each, plus 8% interest, beginning in 2014. Your gross profit percentage is 60%. You reported a gain of $12,000 on each payment received in 2013 and 2014.
In 2015, you and the buyer agreed to reduce the purchase price to $85,000 and payments during 2015, 2016, and 2017 are reduced to $15,000 for each year.
The new gross profit percentage, 46.67%, is figured on Example—Worksheet B.
You will report a gain of $7,000 (46.67% of $15,000) on each of the $15,000 installments due in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000292476
Example —
Worksheet B. New Gross Profit Percentage — Selling Price Reduced
 1.Enter the reduced selling
price for the property
85,000
 2.Enter your adjusted
basis for the
property
40,000 
 3.Enter your selling
expenses
-0- 
 4.Enter any depreciation
recapture
-0- 
 5.Add lines 2, 3, and 440,000
 6.Subtract line 5 from line 1.
This is your adjusted
gross profit
45,000
 7.Enter any installment sale
income reported in
prior year(s)
24,000
 8.Subtract line 7 from line 621,000
 9.Future installments45,000
10.Divide line 8 by line 9.
This is your new gross
profit percentage*
46.67%
* Apply this percentage to all future payments to determine how much of each of those payments is installment sale income.
taxmap/pubs/p537-001.htm#en_us_publink1000221624

Reporting Installment
Sale Income(p4)

rule
Generally, you will use Form 6252 to report installment sale income from casual sales of real or personal property during the tax year. You also will have to report the installment sale income on Schedule D (Form 1040), or Form 4797, or both. If the property was your main home, you may be able to exclude part or all of the gain.
For more information on how to report your income from an installment sale, see Reporting an Installment Sale, later.