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Publication 550

Chapter 4
Sales and Trades of Investment Property(p37)


This chapter explains the tax treatment of sales and trades of investment property.

Investment property.(p37)

This is property that produces investment income. Examples include stocks, bonds, and Treasury bills and notes. Property used in a trade or business is not investment property.

Form 1099-B.(p37)

If you sold property such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or certain commodities through a broker during the year, you should receive, for each sale, a Form 1099-B, Proceeds From Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions, from the broker. You should receive Form 1099-B for 2014 by February 17, 2015. It will show the gross proceeds from the sale. The IRS will also get a copy of Form 1099-B from the broker.
Use Form 1099-B received from your broker to complete Form 8949. If you sold a covered security in 2014, your broker will send you a Form 1099-B that shows your basis. This will help you complete Form 8949. Generally, a covered security is a security you acquired after 2010, with certain exceptions explained in the Instructions for Form 8949.
For more information on Form 8949 and Schedule D (Form 1040), see Reporting Capital Gains and Losses in this chapter. Also see the Instructions for Form 8949 and the Instructions for Schedule D (Form 1040).
If someone receives gross proceeds as a nominee for you, that person will give you a Form 1099-B, which will show gross proceeds received on your behalf.
If you receive a Form 1099-B that includes gross proceeds belonging to another person, see Nominees, later under Reporting Capital Gains and Losses for more information.

Other property transactions.(p37)

Certain transfers of property are discussed in other IRS publications. These include:


Useful items

You may want to see:

 551 Basis of Assets
Form (and Instructions)
 Schedule D (Form 1040) : Capital Gains and Losses
 6781 : Gains and Losses From Section 1256 Contracts and Straddles
 8582 : Passive Activity Loss Limitations
 8824 : Like-Kind Exchanges
 8949 : Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets
See chapter 5, How To Get Tax Help, for information about getting these publications and forms.

What Is a
Sale or Trade?(p38)


Words you may need to know (see Glossary)

This section explains what is a sale or trade. It also explains certain transactions and events that are treated as sales or trades.
A sale is generally a transfer of property for money or a mortgage, note, or other promise to pay money.
A trade is a transfer of property for other property or services, and may be taxed in the same way as a sale.

Sale and purchase.(p38)

Ordinarily, a transaction is not a trade when you voluntarily sell property for cash and immediately buy similar property to replace it. The sale and purchase are two separate transactions. But see Like-Kind Exchanges under Nontaxable Trades, later.

Redemption of stock.(p38)

A redemption of stock is treated as a sale or trade and is subject to the capital gain or loss provisions unless the redemption is a dividend or other distribution on stock.
Dividend versus sale or trade.(p38)
Whether a redemption is treated as a sale, trade, dividend, or other distribution depends on the circumstances in each case. Both direct and indirect ownership of stock will be considered. The redemption is treated as a sale or trade of stock if:

Redemption or retirement of bonds.(p38)

A redemption or retirement of bonds or notes at their maturity generally is treated as a sale or trade. See Stocks, stock rights, and bonds and Discounted Debt Instruments, later.
In addition, a significant modification of a bond is treated as a trade of the original bond for a new bond. For details, see Regulations section 1.1001-3.

Surrender of stock.(p38)

A surrender of stock by a dominant shareholder who retains ownership of more than half of the corporation's voting shares is treated as a contribution to capital rather than as an immediate loss deductible from taxable income. The surrendering shareholder must reallocate his or her basis in the surrendered shares to the shares he or she retains.

Trade of investment property for an annuity.(p38)

The transfer of investment property to a corporation, trust, fund, foundation, or other organization, in exchange for a fixed annuity contract that will make guaranteed annual payments to you for life, is a taxable trade. If the present value of the annuity is more than your basis in the property traded, you have a taxable gain in the year of the trade. Figure the present value of the annuity according to factors used by commercial insurance companies issuing annuities.

Transfer by inheritance.(p38)

The transfer of property of a decedent to the executor or administrator of the estate, or to the heirs or beneficiaries, is not a sale or other disposition. No taxable gain or deductible loss results from the transfer.

Termination of certain rights and obligations.(p38)

The cancellation, lapse, expiration, or other termination of a right or obligation (other than a securities futures contract) with respect to property that is a capital asset (or that would be a capital asset if you acquired it) is treated as a sale. Any gain or loss is treated as a capital gain or loss.
This rule does not apply to the retirement of a debt instrument. See Redemption or retirement of bonds, earlier.

Worthless Securities(p38)

Stocks, stock rights, and bonds (other than those held for sale by a securities dealer) that became completely worthless during the tax year are treated as though they were sold on the last day of the tax year. This affects whether your capital loss is long term or short term. See Holding Period, later.
Worthless securities also include securities that you abandon after March 12, 2008. To abandon a security, you must permanently surrender and relinquish all rights in the security and receive no consideration in exchange for it. All the facts and circumstances determine whether the transaction is properly characterized as an abandonment or other type of transaction, such as an actual sale or exchange, contribution to capital, dividend, or gift.
If you are a cash basis taxpayer and make payments on a negotiable promissory note that you issued for stock that became worthless, you can deduct these payments as losses in the years you actually make the payments. Do not deduct them in the year the stock became worthless.

How to report loss.(p38)

Report worthless securities in Form 8949, Part I or Part II, whichever applies.
Report your worthless securities transactions on Form 8949 with the correct box checked for these transactions. See Form 8949 and the Instructions for Form 8949.

Filing a claim for refund.(p38)

If you do not claim a loss for a worthless security on your original return for the year it becomes worthless, you can file a claim for a credit or refund due to the loss. You must use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to amend your return for the year the security became worthless. You must file it within 7 years from the date your original return for that year had to be filed, or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. (Claims not due to worthless securities or bad debts generally must be filed within 3 years from the date a return is filed, or 2 years from the date the tax is paid, whichever is later.) For more information about filing a claim, see Publication 556.

Constructive Sales
of Appreciated
Financial Positions(p39)

You are treated as having made a constructive sale when you enter into certain transactions involving an appreciated financial position (defined later) in stock, a partnership interest, or certain debt instruments. You must recognize gain as if the position were disposed of at its fair market value on the date of the constructive sale. This gives you a new holding period for the position that begins on the date of the constructive sale. Then, when you close the transaction, you reduce your gain (or increase your loss) by the gain recognized on the constructive sale.

Constructive sale.(p39)

You are treated as having made a constructive sale of an appreciated financial position if you:
You are also treated as having made a constructive sale of an appreciated financial position if a person related to you enters into a transaction described above with a view toward avoiding the constructive sale treatment. For this purpose, a related person is any related party described under Related Party Transactions, later in this chapter.
Exception for nonmarketable securities.(p39)
You are not treated as having made a constructive sale solely because you entered into a contract for sale of any stock, debt instrument, or partnership interest that is not a marketable security if it settles within 1 year of the date you enter into it.
Exception for certain closed transactions.(p39)
Do not treat a transaction as a constructive sale if all of the following are true.
  1. You closed the transaction on or before the 30th day after the end of your tax year.
  2. You held the appreciated financial position throughout the 60-day period beginning on the date you closed the transaction.
  3. Your risk of loss was not reduced at any time during that 60-day period by holding certain other positions.
If a closed transaction is reestablished in a substantially similar position during the 60-day period beginning on the date the first transaction was closed, this exception still applies if the reestablished position is closed before the 30th day after the end of your tax year in which the first transaction was closed and, after that closing, (2) and (3) above are true.
This exception also applies to successive short sales of an entire appreciated financial position. For more information, see Revenue Ruling 2003-1 in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2003-3. This bulletin is available at

Appreciated financial position.(p39)

This is any interest in stock, a partnership interest, or a debt instrument (including a futures or forward contract, a short sale, or an option) if disposing of the interest would result in a gain.
An appreciated financial position does not include the following.
  1. Any position from which all of the appreciation is accounted for under marked-to-market rules, including section 1256 contracts (described later under Section 1256 Contracts Marked to Market).
  2. Any position in a debt instrument if:
    1. The position unconditionally entitles the holder to receive a specified principal amount,
    2. The interest payments (or other similar amounts) with respect to the position are payable at a fixed rate or a variable rate described in Regulations section 1.860G-1(a)(3), and
    3. The position is not convertible, either directly or indirectly, into stock of the issuer (or any related person).
  3. Any hedge with respect to a position described in (2).
Certain trust instruments treated as stock.(p39)
For the constructive sale rules, an interest in an actively traded trust is treated as stock unless substantially all of the value of the property held by the trust is debt that qualifies for the exception to the definition of an appreciated financial position (explained in (2) above).

Sale of appreciated financial position.(p39)

A transaction treated as a constructive sale of an appreciated financial position is not treated as a constructive sale of any other appreciated financial position, as long as you continue to hold the original position. However, if you hold another appreciated financial position and dispose of the original position before closing the transaction that resulted in the constructive sale, you are treated as if, at the same time, you constructively sold the other appreciated financial position.

Section 1256 Contracts
Marked to Market(p39)

If you hold a section 1256 contract at the end of the tax year, you generally must treat it as sold at its fair market value on the last business day of the tax year.

Section 1256 Contract(p39)

A section 1256 contract is any:
A section 1256 contract does not include:For more details, including definitions of these terms, see section 1256.

Regulated futures contract.(p39)

This is a contract that:

Foreign currency contract.(p39)

This is a contract that:
Bank forward contracts with maturity dates longer than the maturities ordinarily available for regulated futures contracts are considered to meet the definition of a foreign currency contract if the above three conditions are satisfied.
Special rules apply to certain foreign currency transactions. These transactions may result in ordinary gain or loss treatment. For details, see Internal Revenue Code section 988 and Regulations sections 1.988-1(a)(7) and 1.988-3.

Nonequity option.(p39)

This is any listed option (defined later) that is not an equity option. Nonequity options include debt options, commodity futures options, currency options, and broad-based stock index options. A broad-based stock index is based on the value of a group of diversified stocks or securities (such as the Standard and Poor's 500 index).
Warrants based on a stock index that are economically, substantially identical in all material respects to options based on a stock index are treated as options based on a stock index.
Cash-settled options.(p40)
Cash-settled options based on a stock index and either traded on or subject to the rules of a qualified board of exchange are nonequity options if the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) determines that the stock index is broad based.
This rule does not apply to options established before the SEC determines that the stock index is broad based.
Listed option.(p40)
This is any option traded on, or subject to the rules of, a qualified board or exchange (as discussed earlier under Regulated futures contract). A listed option, however, does not include an option that is a right to acquire stock from the issuer.

Dealer equity option.(p40)

This is any listed option that, for an options dealer:
An "options dealer" is any person registered with an appropriate national securities exchange as a market maker or specialist in listed options.

Equity option.(p40)

This is any option:
Equity options include options on a group of stocks only if the group is a narrow-based stock index.
Dealer securities futures contract.(p40)
For any dealer in securities futures contracts or options on those contracts, this is a securities futures contract (or option on such a contract) that:A securities futures contract that is not a dealer securities futures contract is treated as described later under Securities Futures Contracts.

Marked-to-Market Rules(p40)

A section 1256 contract that you hold at the end of the tax year will generally be treated as sold at its fair market value on the last business day of the tax year, and you must recognize any gain or loss that results. That gain or loss is taken into account in figuring your gain or loss when you later dispose of the contract, as shown in the Example under 60/40 rule, below.

Hedging exception.(p40)

The marked-to-market rules do not apply to hedging transactions. See Hedging Transactions, later.

60/40 rule.(p40)

Under the marked-to-market system, 60% of your capital gain or loss will be treated as a long-term capital gain or loss, and 40% will be treated as a short-term capital gain or loss. This is true regardless of how long you actually held the property.


On June 17, 2013, you bought a regulated futures contract for $50,000. On December 31, 2013 (the last business day of your tax year), the fair market value of the contract was $57,000. You recognized a $7,000 gain on your 2013 tax return, treated as 60% long-term and 40% short-term capital gain.
On February 3, 2014, you sold the contract for $56,000. Because you recognized a $7,000 gain on your 2013 return, you recognize a $1,000 loss ($57,000 − $56,000) on your 2014 tax return, treated as 60% long-term and 40% short-term capital loss.
Limited partners or entrepreneurs.(p40)
The 60/40 rule does not apply to dealer equity options or dealer securities futures contracts that result in capital gain or loss allocable to limited partners or limited entrepreneurs (defined later under Hedging Transactions). Instead, these gains or losses are treated as short term.

Terminations and transfers.(p40)

The marked-to-market rules also apply if your obligation or rights under section 1256 contracts are terminated or transferred during the tax year. In this case, use the fair market value of each section 1256 contract at the time of termination or transfer to determine the gain or loss. Terminations or transfers may result from any offsetting, delivery, exercise, assignment, or lapse of your obligation or rights under section 1256 contracts.

Loss carryback election.(p40)

An individual having a net section 1256 contracts loss (defined later), generally can elect to carry this loss back 3 years instead of carrying it over to the next year. See How To Report, later, for information about reporting this election on your return.
The loss carried back to any year under this election cannot be more than the net section 1256 contracts gain in that year. In addition, the amount of loss carried back to an earlier tax year cannot increase or produce a net operating loss for that year.
The loss is carried to the earliest carryback year first, and any unabsorbed loss amount can then be carried to each of the next 2 tax years. In each carryback year, treat 60% of the carryback amount as a long-term capital loss and 40% as a short-term capital loss from section 1256 contracts.
If only a portion of the net section 1256 contracts loss is absorbed by carrying the loss back, the unabsorbed portion can be carried forward, under the capital loss carryover rules, to the year following the loss. For more information, see Capital Losses, later. Figure your capital loss carryover as if, for the loss year, you had an additional short-term capital gain of 40% of the amount of net section 1256 contracts loss absorbed in the carryback years and an additional long-term capital gain of 60% of the absorbed loss. In the carryover year, treat any capital loss carryover from losses on section 1256 contracts as if it were a loss from section 1256 contracts for that year.
Net section 1256 contracts loss.(p40)
This loss is the lesser of:
Net section 1256 contracts gain.(p40)
This gain is the lesser of:
Figure your net section 1256 contracts gain for any carryback year without regard to the net section 1256 contracts loss for the loss year or any later tax year.

Traders in section 1256 contracts.(p40)

Gain or loss from the trading of section 1256 contracts is capital gain or loss subject to the marked-to-market rules. However, this does not apply to contracts held for purposes of hedging property if any loss from the property would be an ordinary loss.
Treatment of underlying property.(p40)
The determination of whether an individual's gain or loss from any property is ordinary or capital gain or loss is made without regard to the fact that the individual is actively engaged in dealing in or trading section 1256 contracts related to that property.

How To Report(p40)

If you disposed of regulated futures or foreign currency contracts in 2014 (or had unrealized profit or loss on these contracts that were open at the end of 2013 or 2014), you should receive Form 1099-B from your broker.

Form 6781.(p40)

Use Part I of Form 6781 to report your gains and losses from all section 1256 contracts that are open at the end of the year or that were closed out during the year. This includes the amount shown in box 11 of Form 1099-B. Then enter the net amount of these gains and losses on Schedule D (Form 1040), line 4 or line 11, as appropriate. Include a copy of Form 6781 with your income tax return.
If the Form 1099-B you receive includes a straddle or hedging transaction, defined later, it may be necessary to show certain adjustments on Form 6781. Follow the Form 6781 instructions for completing Part I.

Loss carryback election.(p40)

To carry back your loss under the election procedures described earlier, file Form 1040X or Form 1045, Application for Tentative Refund, for the year to which you are carrying the loss with an amended Form 6781 and an amended Schedule D (Form 1040) attached. Follow the instructions for completing Form 6781 for the loss year to make this election.

Hedging Transactions(p41)

The marked-to-market rules, described earlier, do not apply to hedging transactions. A transaction is a hedging transaction if both of the following conditions are met.
  1. You entered into the transaction in the normal course of your trade or business primarily to manage the risk of:
    1. Price changes or currency fluctuations on ordinary property you hold (or will hold), or
    2. Interest rate or price changes, or currency fluctuations, on your current or future borrowings or ordinary obligations.
  2. You clearly identified the transaction as being a hedging transaction before the close of the day on which you entered
    into it.
This hedging transaction exception does not apply to transactions entered into by or for any syndicate. A syndicate is a partnership, S corporation, or other entity (other than a regular corporation) that allocates more than 35% of its losses to limited partners or limited entrepreneurs. A limited entrepreneur is a person who has an interest in an enterprise (but not as a limited partner) and who does not actively participate in its management. However, an interest is not considered held by a limited partner or entrepreneur if the interest holder actively participates (or did so for at least 5 full years) in the management of the entity, or is the spouse, child (including a legally adopted child), grandchild, or parent of an individual who actively participates in the management of the entity.

Hedging loss limit.(p41)

If you are a limited partner or entrepreneur in a syndicate, the amount of a hedging loss you can claim is limited. A "hedging loss" is the amount by which the allowable deductions in a tax year that resulted from a hedging transaction (determined without regard to the limit) are more than the income received or accrued during the tax year from this transaction.
Any hedging loss allocated to you for the tax year is limited to your taxable income for that year from the trade or business in which the hedging transaction occurred. Ignore any hedging transaction items in determining this taxable income. If you have a hedging loss that is disallowed because of this limit, you can carry it over to the next tax year as a deduction resulting from a hedging transaction.
If the hedging transaction relates to property other than stock or securities, the limit on hedging losses applies if the limited partner or entrepreneur is an individual.
The limit on hedging losses does not apply to any hedging loss to the extent that it is more than all your unrecognized gains from hedging transactions at the end of the tax year that are from the trade or business in which the hedging transaction occurred. The term "unrecognized gain" has the same meaning as defined under Loss Deferral Rules, later.

Sale of property used in a hedge.(p41)

Once you identify personal property as being part of a hedging transaction, you must treat gain from its sale or exchange as ordinary income, not capital gain.

Self-Employment Income(p41)

Gains and losses derived in the ordinary course of a commodity or option dealer's trading in section 1256 contracts and property related to these contracts are included in net earnings from self-employment. See the Instructions for Schedule SE (Form 1040). In addition, the rules relating to contributions to self-employment retirement plans apply. For information on retirement plan contributions, see Publication 560 and Publication 590-A.