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Publication 547

Figuring a Loss(p4)

To determine your deduction for a casualty or theft loss, you must first figure your loss.

Table 1. Reporting Loss on Deposits

IF you choose to report the loss as a(n)... THEN report it on...
casualty loss Form 4684 and Schedule A
(Form 1040).
ordinary loss Schedule A (Form 1040).
nonbusiness bad debt Form 8949 and Schedule D (Form 1040).

Amount of loss.(p4)

Figure the amount of your loss using the following steps.
  1. Determine your adjusted basis in the property before the casualty or theft.
  2. Determine the decrease in fair market value (FMV) of the property as a result of the casualty or theft.
  3. From the smaller of the amounts you determined in (1) and (2), subtract any insurance or other reimbursement you received or expect to receive.
For personal-use property and property used in performing services as an employee, apply the deduction limits, discussed later, to determine the amount of your deductible loss.
Gain from reimbursement.(p4)
If your reimbursement is more than your adjusted basis in the property, you have a gain. This is true even if the decrease in the FMV of the property is smaller than your adjusted basis. If you have a gain, you may have to pay tax on it, or you may be able to postpone reporting the gain. See Figuring a Gain, later.
Business or income-producing property.(p4)
If you have business or income-producing property, such as rental property, and it is stolen or completely destroyed, the decrease in FMV is not considered. Your loss is figured as follows:
 Your adjusted basis in the property 
 Any salvage value 
 Any insurance or other reimbursement you
receive or expect to receive
Loss of inventory.(p4)
There are two ways you can deduct a casualty or theft loss of inventory, including items you hold for sale to customers.
One way is to deduct the loss through the increase in the cost of goods sold by properly reporting your opening and closing inventories. Do not claim this loss again as a casualty or theft loss. If you take the loss through the increase in the cost of goods sold, include any insurance or other reimbursement you receive for the loss in gross income.
The other way is to deduct the loss separately. If you deduct it separately, eliminate the affected inventory items from the cost of goods sold by making a downward adjustment to opening inventory or purchases. Reduce the loss by the reimbursement you received. Do not include the reimbursement in gross income. If you do not receive the reimbursement by the end of the year, you may not claim a loss to the extent you have a reasonable prospect of recovery.
Leased property.(p4)
If you are liable for casualty damage to property you lease, your loss is the amount you must pay to repair the property minus any insurance or other reimbursement you receive or expect to receive.

Separate computations.(p4)

Generally, if a single casualty or theft involves more than one item of property, you must figure the loss on each item separately. Then combine the losses to determine the total loss from that casualty or theft.
Exception for personal-use real property.(p4)
In figuring a casualty loss on personal-use real property, the entire property (including any improvements, such as buildings, trees, and shrubs) is treated as one item. Figure the loss using the smaller of the following.
See Real property under Figuring the Deduction, later.

Decrease in
Fair Market Value(p4)

Fair market value (FMV) is the price for which you could sell your property to a willing buyer when neither of you has to sell or buy and both of you know all the relevant facts.
The decrease in FMV used to figure the amount of a casualty or theft loss is the difference between the property's fair market value immediately before and immediately after the casualty or theft.

FMV of stolen property.(p4)

The FMV of property immediately after a theft is considered to be zero since you no longer have the property.


Several years ago, you purchased silver dollars at face value for $150. This is your adjusted basis in the property. Your silver dollars were stolen this year. The FMV of the coins was $1,000 just before they were stolen, and insurance did not cover them. Your theft loss is $150.

Recovered stolen property.(p4)

Recovered stolen property is your property that was stolen and later returned to you. If you recovered property after you had already taken a theft loss deduction, you must refigure your loss using the smaller of the property's adjusted basis (explained later) or the decrease in FMV from the time just before it was stolen until the time it was recovered. Use this amount to refigure your total loss for the year in which the loss was deducted.
If your refigured loss is less than the loss you deducted, you generally have to report the difference as income in the recovery year. But report the difference only up to the amount of the loss that reduced your tax. For more information on the amount to report, see Recoveries in Publication 525.

Figuring Decrease in FMV — Items To Consider(p5)

To figure the decrease in FMV because of a casualty or theft, you generally need a competent appraisal. However, other measures also can be used to establish certain decreases. See Appraisal and Cost of cleaning up or making repairs, next.


An appraisal to determine the difference between the FMV of the property immediately before a casualty or theft and immediately afterwards should be made by a competent appraiser. The appraiser must recognize the effects of any general market decline that may occur along with the casualty. This information is needed to limit any deduction to the actual loss resulting from damage to the property.
Several factors are important in evaluating the accuracy of an appraisal, including the following.
You may be able to use an appraisal that you used to get a federal loan (or a federal loan guarantee) as the result of a federally declared disaster to establish the amount of your disaster loss. For more information on disasters, see Disaster Area Losses later.

Cost of cleaning up or making repairs.(p5)

The cost of repairing damaged property is not part of a casualty loss. Neither is the cost of cleaning up after a casualty. But you can use the cost of cleaning up or of making repairs after a casualty as a measure of the decrease in FMV if you meet all the following conditions.
The cost of restoring landscaping to its original condition after a casualty may indicate the decrease in FMV. You may be able to measure your loss by what you spend on the following.

Car value.(p5)

Books issued by various automobile organizations that list your car may be useful in figuring the value of your car. You can use the books' retail values and modify them by factors such as the mileage and condition of your car to figure its value. The prices are not official, but they may be useful in determining value and suggesting relative prices for comparison with current sales and offerings in your area. If your car is not listed in the books, determine its value from other sources. A dealer's offer for your car as a trade-in on a new car is not usually a measure of its true value.

Figuring Decrease in FMV — Items Not To Consider(p5)

You generally should not consider the following items when attempting to establish the decrease in FMV of your property.

Cost of protection.(p5)

The cost of protecting your property against a casualty or theft is not part of a casualty or theft loss. The amount you spend on insurance or to board up your house against a storm is not part of your loss. If the property is business property, these expenses are deductible as business expenses.
If you make permanent improvements to your property to protect it against a casualty or theft, add the cost of these improvements to your basis in the property. An example would be the cost of a dike to prevent flooding.
You cannot increase your basis in the property by, or deduct as a business expense, any expenditures you made with respect to qualified disaster mitigation payments (discussed later under Disaster Area Losses).

Related expenses.(p5)

The incidental expenses due to a casualty or theft, such as expenses for the treatment of personal injuries, for temporary housing, or for a rental car, are not part of your casualty or theft loss. However, they may be deductible as business expenses if the damaged or stolen property is business property.

Replacement cost.(p5)

The cost of replacing stolen or destroyed property is not part of a casualty or theft loss.


You bought a new chair 4 years ago for $300. In April, a fire destroyed the chair. You estimate that it would cost $500 to replace it. If you had sold the chair before the fire, you estimate that you could have received only $100 for it because it was 4 years old. The chair was not insured. Your loss is $100, the FMV of the chair before the fire. It is not $500, the replacement cost.

Sentimental value.(p5)

Do not consider sentimental value when determining your loss. If a family portrait, heirloom, or keepsake is damaged, destroyed, or stolen, you must base your loss on its FMV.

Decline in market value of property in or near casualty area.(p5)

A decrease in the value of your property because it is in or near an area that suffered a casualty, or that might again suffer a casualty, is not to be taken into consideration. You have a loss only for actual casualty damage to your property. However, if your home is in a federally declared disaster area, see Disaster Area Losses, later.

Costs of photographs and appraisals.(p5)

Photographs taken after a casualty will be helpful in establishing the condition and value of the property after it was damaged. Photographs showing the condition of the property after it was repaired, restored, or replaced may also be helpful.
Appraisals are used to figure the decrease in FMV because of a casualty or theft. See Appraisal, earlier, under Figuring Decrease in FMV — Items To Consider, for information about appraisals.
The costs of photographs and appraisals used as evidence of the value and condition of property damaged as a result of a casualty are not a part of the loss. They are expenses in determining your tax liability. You can claim these costs as a miscellaneous itemized deduction subject to the 2%-of-adjusted-gross-income limit on Schedule A (Form 1040).

Adjusted Basis(p5)

The measure of your investment in the property you own is its basis. For property you buy, your basis is usually its cost to you. For property you acquire in some other way, such as inheriting it, receiving it as a gift, or getting it in a nontaxable exchange, you must figure your basis in another way, as explained in Publication 551. If you inherited the property from someone who died in 2010 and the executor of the decedent's estate made the election to file Form 8939, refer to the information provided by the executor or see Publication 4895, Tax Treatment of Property Acquired From a Decedent Dying in 2010.

Adjustments to basis.(p5)

While you own the property, various events may take place that change your basis. Some events, such as additions or permanent improvements to the property, increase basis. Others, such as earlier casualty losses and depreciation deductions, decrease basis. When you add the increases to the basis and subtract the decreases from the basis, the result is your adjusted basis. See Publication 551 for more information on figuring the basis of your property.

Insurance and
Other Reimbursements(p6)

If you receive an insurance or other type of reimbursement, you must subtract the reimbursement when you figure your loss. You do not have a casualty or theft loss to the extent you are reimbursed.
If you expect to be reimbursed for part or all of your loss, you must subtract the expected reimbursement when you figure your loss. You must reduce your loss even if you do not receive payment until a later tax year. See Reimbursement Received After Deducting Loss, later.

Failure to file a claim for reimbursement.(p6)

If your property is covered by insurance, you must file a timely insurance claim for reimbursement of your loss. Otherwise, you cannot deduct this loss as a casualty or theft.
The portion of the loss usually not covered by insurance (for example, a deductible) is not subject to this rule.


You have a car insurance policy with a $1,000 deductible. Because your insurance did not cover the first $1,000 of an auto collision, the $1,000 would be deductible (subject to the $100 and 10% rules, discussed later). This is true, even if you do not file an insurance claim, because your insurance policy would never have reimbursed you for the deductible.

Types of Reimbursements(p6)

The most common type of reimbursement is an insurance payment for your stolen or damaged property. Other types of reimbursements are discussed next. Also see the Instructions for Form 4684.

Employer's emergency disaster fund.(p6)

If you receive money from your employer's emergency disaster fund and you must use that money to rehabilitate or replace property on which you are claiming a casualty loss deduction, you must take that money into consideration in computing the casualty loss deduction. Take into consideration only the amount you used to replace your destroyed or damaged property.


Your home was extensively damaged by a tornado. Your loss after reimbursement from your insurance company was $10,000. Your employer set up a disaster relief fund for its employees. Employees receiving money from the fund had to use it to rehabilitate or replace their damaged or destroyed property. You received $4,000 from the fund and spent the entire amount on repairs to your home. In figuring your casualty loss, you must reduce your unreimbursed loss ($10,000) by the $4,000 you received from your employer's fund. Your casualty loss before applying the deduction limits (discussed later) is $6,000.

Cash gifts.(p6)

If you receive excludable cash gifts as a disaster victim and there are no limits on how you can use the money, you do not reduce your casualty loss by these excludable cash gifts. This applies even if you use the money to pay for repairs to property damaged in the disaster.


Your home was damaged by a hurricane. Relatives and neighbors made cash gifts to you that were excludable from your income. You used part of the cash gifts to pay for repairs to your home. There were no limits or restrictions on how you could use the cash gifts. It was an excludable gift, so the money you received and used to pay for repairs to your home does not reduce your casualty loss on the damaged home.

Insurance payments for living expenses.(p6)

You do not reduce your casualty loss by insurance payments you receive to cover living expenses in either of the following situations.
Inclusion in income.(p6)
If these insurance payments are more than the temporary increase in your living expenses, you must include the excess in your income. Report this amount on Form 1040, line 21. However, if the casualty occurs in a federally declared disaster area, none of the insurance payments are taxable. See Qualified disaster relief payments, later, under Disaster Area Losses.
A temporary increase in your living expenses is the difference between the actual living expenses you and your family incurred during the period you could not use your home and your normal living expenses for that period. Actual living expenses are the reasonable and necessary expenses incurred because of the loss of your main home. Generally, these expenses include the amounts you pay for the following. Normal living expenses consist of these same expenses that you would have incurred but did not because of the casualty or the threat of one.


As a result of a fire, you vacated your apartment for a month and moved to a motel. You normally pay $525 a month for rent. None was charged for the month the apartment was vacated. Your motel rent for this month was $1,200. You normally pay $200 a month for food. Your food expenses for the month you lived in the motel were $400. You received $1,100 from your insurance company to cover your living expenses. You determine the payment you must include in income as follows.
1)Insurance payment for living expenses$1,100
2)Actual expenses during the month you are unable to use your home because of the fire $1,600 
3)Normal living expenses725 
4)Temporary increase in
living expenses: Subtract line 3
from line 2
5)Amount of payment includible in income: Subtract line 4 from line 1$ 225
Tax year of inclusion.(p6)
You include the taxable part of the insurance payment in income for the year you regain the use of your main home or, if later, for the year you receive the taxable part of the insurance payment.


Your main home was destroyed by a tornado in August 2010. You regained use of your home in November 2011. The insurance payments you received in 2010 and 2011 were $1,500 more than the temporary increase in your living expenses during those years. You include this amount in income on your 2011 Form 1040. If, in 2012, you receive further payments to cover the living expenses you had in 2010 and 2011, you must include those payments in income on your 2012 Form 1040.

Disaster relief.(p6)

Food, medical supplies, and other forms of assistance you receive do not reduce your casualty loss, unless they are replacements for lost or destroyed property.

Table 2. Deduction Limit Rules for Personal-Use and Employee Property

   $100 Rule 10% Rule2% Rule
General ApplicationYou must reduce each casualty or theft loss by $100 when figuring your deduction. Apply this rule to personal-use property after you have figured the amount of your loss. You must reduce your total casualty or theft loss by 10% of your adjusted gross income. Apply this rule to personal-use property after you reduce each loss by $100 (the $100 rule). You must reduce your total casualty or theft loss by 2% of your adjusted gross income. Apply this rule to property you used in performing services as an employee after you have figured the amount of your loss and added it to your job expenses and most other miscellaneous itemized deductions.
Single EventApply this rule only once, even if many pieces of property are affected.Apply this rule only once, even if many pieces of property are affected.Apply this rule only once, even if many pieces of property are affected.
More Than One EventApply to the loss from each event.Apply to the total of all your losses from all events.Apply to the total of all your losses from all events.
More Than One Person—
  With Loss From the
  Same Event
  (other than a married couple
  filing jointly)
Apply separately to each person.Apply separately to each person.Apply separately to each person.
Married Couple—
  With Loss From the
  Same Event
Apply as if you were one person.Apply as if you were one person.Apply as if you were one person.
Apply separately to each spouse.Apply separately to each spouse.Apply separately to each spouse.
More Than One Owner
 (other than a married
 couple filing jointly)
Apply separately to each owner of jointly owned property.Apply separately to each owner of jointly owned property.Apply separately to each owner of jointly owned property.
Qualified disaster relief payments you receive for expenses you incurred as a result of a federally declared disaster, are not taxable income to you. For more information, see Qualified disaster relief payments under Disaster Area Losses, later.
Disaster unemployment assistance payments are unemployment benefits that are taxable.
Generally, disaster relief grants received under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act are not included in your income. See Federal disaster relief grants, later, under Disaster Area Losses.

Reimbursement Received After Deducting Loss(p6)

If you figured your casualty or theft loss using the amount of your expected reimbursement, you may have to adjust your tax return for the tax year in which you get your actual reimbursement. This section explains the adjustment you may have to make.

Actual reimbursement less than expected.(p6)

If you later receive less reimbursement than you expected, include that difference as a loss with your other losses (if any) on your return for the year in which you can reasonably expect no more reimbursement.


Your personal car had a FMV of $2,000 when it was destroyed in a collision with another car in 2011. The accident was due to the negligence of the other driver. At the end of 2011, there was a reasonable prospect that the owner of the other car would reimburse you in full. You did not have a deductible loss in 2011.
In January 2012, the court awards you a judgment of $2,000. However, in July it becomes apparent that you will be unable to collect any amount from the other driver. Since this is your only casualty or theft loss, you can deduct the loss in 2012 that is figured by applying the deduction limits (discussed later).

Actual reimbursement more than expected.(p7)

If you later receive more reimbursement than you expected, after you have claimed a deduction for the loss, you may have to include the extra reimbursement in your income for the year you receive it. However, if any part of the original deduction did not reduce your tax for the earlier year, do not include that part of the reimbursement in your income. You do not refigure your tax for the year you claimed the deduction. See Recoveries in Publication 525 to find out how much extra reimbursement to include in income.


In 2011, a hurricane destroyed your motorboat. Your loss was $3,000, and you estimated that your insurance would cover $2,500 of it. You did not itemize deductions on your 2011 return, so you could not deduct the loss. When the insurance company reimburses you for the loss, you do not report any of the reimbursement as income. This is true even if it is for the full $3,000 because you did not deduct the loss on your 2011 return. The loss did not reduce your tax.
If the total of all the reimbursements you receive is more than your adjusted basis in the destroyed or stolen property, you will have a gain on the casualty or theft. If you have already taken a deduction for a loss and you receive the reimbursement in a later year, you may have to include the gain in your income for the later year. Include the gain as ordinary income up to the amount of your deduction that reduced your tax for the earlier year. You may be able to postpone reporting any remaining gain as explained under Postponement of Gain, later.

Actual reimbursement same as expected.(p7)

If you receive exactly the reimbursement you expected to receive, you do not have to include any of the reimbursement in your income and you cannot deduct any additional loss.


In December 2012, you had a collision while driving your personal car. Repairs to the car cost $950. You had $100 deductible collision insurance. Your insurance company agreed to reimburse you for the rest of the damage. Because you expected a reimbursement from the insurance company, you did not have a casualty loss deduction in 2012.
Due to the $100 rule, you cannot deduct the $100 you paid as the deductible. When you receive the $850 from the insurance company in 2013, do not report it as income.