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Publication 550

When To Report
Interest Income(p17)

For Use in Tax Year 2014

Words you may need to know (see Glossary)

When to report your interest income depends on whether you use the cash method or an accrual method to report income.

Cash method.(p17)

For Use in Tax Year 2014
Most individual taxpayers use the cash method. If you use this method, you generally report your interest income in the year in which you actually or constructively receive it. However, there are special rules for reporting the discount on certain debt instruments. See U.S. Savings Bonds and Discount on Debt Instruments, earlier.


On September 1, 2012, you loaned another individual $2,000 at 12% compounded annually. You are not in the business of lending money. The note stated that principal and interest would be due on August 31, 2014. In 2014, you received $2,508.80 ($2,000 principal and $508.80 interest). If you use the cash method, you must include in income on your 2014 return the $508.80 interest you received in that year.
Constructive receipt.(p17)
You constructively receive income when it is credited to your account or made available to you. You do not need to have physical possession of it. For example, you are considered to receive interest, dividends, or other earnings on any deposit or account in a bank, savings and loan, or similar financial institution, or interest on life insurance policy dividends left to accumulate, when they are credited to your account and subject to your withdrawal. This is true even if they are not yet entered in your passbook.
You constructively receive income on the deposit or account even if you must:

Accrual method.(p17)

For Use in Tax Year 2014
If you use an accrual method, you report your interest income when you earn it, whether or not you have received it. Interest is earned over the term of the debt instrument.


If, in the previous example, you use an accrual method, you must include the interest in your income as you earn it. You would report the interest as follows: 2012, $80; 2013, $249.60; and 2014, $179.20.

Coupon bonds.(p17)

For Use in Tax Year 2014
Generally, interest on coupon bonds is taxable in the year the coupon becomes due and payable. It does not matter when you mail the coupon for payment.