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Publication 541

Basis of Partner's Interest(p9)

The basis of a partnership interest is the money plus the adjusted basis of any property the partner contributed. If the partner must recognize gain as a result of the contribution, this gain is included in the basis of his or her interest. Any increase in a partner's individual liabilities because of an assumption of partnership liabilities is considered a contribution of money to the partnership by the partner.

Interest acquired by gift, etc.(p9)

If a partner acquires an interest in a partnership by gift, inheritance, or under any circumstance other than by a contribution of money or property to the partnership, the partner's basis must be determined using the basis rules described in Publication 551.

Adjusted Basis(p9)

There is a worksheet for adjusting the basis of a partner's interest in the partnership in the Partner's Instructions for Schedule K-1 (Form 1065).
The basis of an interest in a partnership is increased or decreased by certain items.


A partner's basis is increased by the following items.


The partner's basis is decreased (but never below zero) by the following items.
Partner's liabilities assumed by partnership.(p9)
If contributed property is subject to a debt or if a partner's liabilities are assumed by the partnership, the basis of that partner's interest is reduced (but not below zero) by the liability assumed by the other partners. This partner must reduce his or her basis because the assumption of the liability is treated as a distribution of money to that partner. The other partners' assumption of the liability is treated as a contribution by them of money to the partnership. See Effect of Partnership Liabilities, later.

Example 1.(p9)

Ivan acquired a 20% interest in a partnership by contributing property that had an adjusted basis to him of $8,000 and a $4,000 mortgage. The partnership assumed payment of the mortgage. The basis of Ivan's interest is:
Adjusted basis of contributed property$8,000
Minus: Part of mortgage assumed by other partners (80% × $4,000)3,200
Basis of Ivan's partnership interest$4,800

Example 2.(p10)

If, in Example 1, the contributed property had a $12,000 mortgage, the basis of Ivan's partnership interest would be zero. The $1,600 difference between the mortgage assumed by the other partners, $9,600 (80% × $12,000), and his basis of $8,000 would be treated as capital gain from the sale or exchange of a partnership interest. However, this gain wouldn't increase the basis of his partnership interest.

Book value of partner's interest.(p10)

The adjusted basis of a partner's interest is determined without considering any amount shown in the partnership books as a capital, equity, or similar account.


Enzo contributes to his partnership property that has an adjusted basis of $400 and a fair market value of $1,000. His partner contributes $1,000 cash. While each partner has increased his capital account by $1,000, which will be reflected in the partnership books, the adjusted basis of Enzo's interest is only $400 and the adjusted basis of his partner's interest is $1,000.

When determined.(p10)

The adjusted basis of a partner's partnership interest is ordinarily determined at the end of the partnership's tax year. However, if there has been a sale or exchange of all or part of the partner's interest or a liquidation of his or her entire interest in a partnership, the adjusted basis is determined on the date of sale, exchange, or liquidation.

Alternative rule for figuring adjusted basis.(p10)

In certain cases, the adjusted basis of a partnership interest can be figured by using the partner's share of the adjusted basis of partnership property that would be distributed if the partnership terminated.
This alternative rule can be used in either of the following situations.
Adjustments may be necessary in figuring the adjusted basis of a partnership interest under the alternative rule. For example, adjustments would be required to include in the partner's share of the adjusted basis of partnership property any significant discrepancies that resulted from contributed property, transfers of partnership interests, or distributions of property to the partners.

Effect of Partnership Liabilities(p10)

A partner's basis in a partnership interest includes the partner's share of a partnership liability only if, and to the extent that, the liability:
  1. Creates or increases the partnership's basis in any of its assets,
  2. Gives rise to a current deduction to the partnership, or
  3. Is a nondeductible, noncapital expense of the partnership.
The term "assets" in (1) includes capitalized items allocable to future periods, such as organization expenses.
A partner's share of accrued but unpaid expenses or accounts payable of a cash basis partnership are not included in the adjusted basis of the partner's interest in the partnership.

Partner's basis increased.(p10)

If a partner's share of partnership liabilities increases, or a partner's individual liabilities increase because he or she assumes partnership liabilities, this increase is treated as a contribution of money by the partner to the partnership.

Partner's basis decreased.(p10)

If a partner's share of partnership liabilities decreases, or a partner's individual liabilities decrease because the partnership assumes his or her individual liabilities, this decrease is treated as a distribution of money to the partner by the partnership.

Assumption of liability.(p10)

Generally, a partner or related person is considered to assume a partnership liability only to the extent that:
  1. He or she is personally liable for it,
  2. The creditor knows that the liability was assumed by the partner or related person,
  3. The creditor can demand payment from the partner or related person, and
  4. No other partner or person related to another partner will bear the economic risk of loss on that liability immediately after the assumption.
Related person.(p10)
Related persons, for these purposes, includes all the following.
Property subject to a liability.(p10)
If property contributed to a partnership by a partner or distributed by the partnership to a partner is subject to a liability, the transferee is treated as having assumed the liability to the extent it doesn't exceed the fair market value of the property.

Partner's share of recourse liabilities.(p10)

A partnership liability is a recourse liability to the extent that any partner or a related person, defined earlier under Related person, has an economic risk of loss for that liability. A partner's share of a recourse liability equals his or her economic risk of loss for that liability. A partner has an economic risk of loss if that partner or a related person would be obligated (whether by agreement or law) to make a net payment to the creditor or a contribution to the partnership with respect to the liability if the partnership were constructively liquidated. A partner who is the creditor for a liability that would otherwise be a nonrecourse liability of the partnership has an economic risk of loss in that liability.
Constructive liquidation.(p10)
Generally, in a constructive liquidation, the following events are treated as occurring at the same time.


Juan and Teresa form a cash basis general partnership with cash contributions of $20,000 each. Under the partnership agreement, they share all partnership profits and losses equally. The partnership borrows $60,000 and purchases depreciable business equipment. This debt is included in the partners' basis in the partnership because incurring it creates an additional $60,000 of basis in the partnership's depreciable property.
If neither partner has an economic risk of loss in the liability, it is a nonrecourse liability. Each partner's basis would include his or her share of the liability, $30,000.
If Teresa is required to pay the creditor if the partnership defaults, she has an economic risk of loss in the liability. Her basis in the partnership would be $80,000 ($20,000 + $60,000), while Juan's basis would be $20,000.
Limited partner.(p11)
A limited partner generally has no obligation to contribute additional capital to the partnership and therefore doesn't have an economic risk of loss in partnership recourse liabilities. Thus, absent some other factor, such as the guarantee of a partnership liability by the limited partner or the limited partner making the loan to the partnership, a limited partner generally doesn't have a share of partnership recourse liabilities.

Partner's share of nonrecourse liabilities.(p11)

A partnership liability is a nonrecourse liability if no partner or related person has an economic risk of loss for that liability. A partner's share of nonrecourse liabilities is generally proportionate to his or her share of partnership profits. However, this rule may not apply if the partnership has taken deductions attributable to nonrecourse liabilities or the partnership holds property that was contributed by a partner.

More information.(p11)

For more information on the effect of partnership liabilities, including rules for limited partners and examples, see sections 1.752-1 through 1.752-5 of the regulations.