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Publication 334

How Do I Figure
a Gain or Loss?(p17)


Table 3-1. How To Figure a Gain or Loss

IF your...THEN you have a...
Adjusted basis is more than the amount realizedLoss.
Amount realized is more than the adjusted basisGain.
Basis, adjusted basis, amount realized, fair market value, and amount recognized are defined next. You need to know these definitions to figure your gain or loss.


The cost or purchase price of property is usually its basis for figuring the gain or loss from its sale or other disposition. However, if you acquired the property by gift, inheritance, or in some way other than buying it, you must use a basis other than its cost. For more information about basis, see Publication 551, Basis of Assets.

Adjusted basis.(p17)

The adjusted basis of property is your original cost or other basis plus certain additions, and minus certain deductions such as depreciation and casualty losses. In determining gain or loss, the costs of transferring property to a new owner, such as selling expenses, are added to the adjusted basis of the property.

Amount realized.(p17)

The amount you realize from a disposition is the total of all money you receive plus the fair market value of all property or services you receive. The amount you realize also includes any of your liabilities that were assumed by the buyer and any liabilities to which the property you transferred is subject, such as real estate taxes or a mortgage.

Fair market value.(p17)

Fair market value is the price at which the property would change hands between a buyer and a seller, neither having to buy or sell, and both having reasonable knowledge of all necessary facts.

Amount recognized.(p17)

Your gain or loss realized from a disposition of property is usually a recognized gain or loss for tax purposes. Recognized gains must be included in gross income. Recognized losses are deductible from gross income. However, a gain or loss realized from certain exchanges of property is not recognized. See
Nontaxable exchanges
, earlier. Also, you cannot deduct a loss from the disposition of property held for personal use.

Is My Gain or Loss
Ordinary or Capital?(p17)

You must classify your gains and losses as either ordinary or capital gains or losses. You must do this to figure your net capital gain or loss. Generally, you will have a capital gain or loss if you dispose of a capital asset. For the most part, everything you own and use for personal purposes or investment is a capital asset.
Certain property you use in your business is not a capital asset. A gain or loss from a disposition of this property is an ordinary gain or loss. However, if you held the property longer than 1 year, you may be able to treat the gain or loss as a capital gain or loss. These gains and losses are called section 1231 gains and losses.
For more information about ordinary and capital gains and losses, see chapters 2 and 3 in Publication 544.

Is My Capital Gain or Loss
Short Term or Long Term?(p17)

If you have a capital gain or loss, you must determine whether it is long term or short term. Whether a gain or loss is long or short term depends on how long you own the property before you dispose of it. The time you own property before disposing of it is called the holding period.

Table 3-2. Do I Have a Short-Term or Long-Term Gain or Loss?

IF you hold the property...THEN you have a...
1 year or lessShort-term capital gain or loss.
More than 1 yearLong-term capital gain or loss.
For more information about short-term and long-term capital gains and losses, see chapter 4 of Publication 544.