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Publication 17

Figuring a Loss(p173)

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.(p173)

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 Pub. 547 for more information on how to treat a gain from a reimbursement for a casualty or theft.

Leased property.(p173)

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.

Decrease in FMV(p173)

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 FMV immediately before and immediately after the casualty or theft.

FMV of stolen property.(p173)

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 didn't cover them. Your theft loss is $150.

Recovered stolen property.(p173)

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 chapter 12.

Figuring Decrease in FMV— Items To Consider(p174)

To figure the decrease in FMV because of a casualty or theft, you generally need a competent appraisal. However, other measures can also be used to establish certain decreases.


An appraisal to determine the difference between the FMV of the property immediately before a casualty or theft and immediately afterward 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 in Pub. 547.

Cost of cleaning up or making repairs.(p174)

The cost of repairing damaged property isn't 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 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.(p174)

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 such factors as mileage and the condition of your car to figure its value. The prices aren't 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 isn't 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 isn't usually a measure of its true value.

Figuring Decrease in FMV— Items Not To Consider(p174)

You generally shouldn't consider the following items when attempting to establish the decrease in FMV of your property.

Cost of protection.(p174)

The cost of protecting your property against a casualty or theft isn't part of a casualty or theft loss. The amount you spend on insurance or to board up your house against a storm isn't part of your loss.
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 can't increase your basis in the property by, or deduct as a business expense, any expenditures you made with respect to qualified disaster mitigation payments. See Disaster Area Losses in Pub. 547.

Incidental expenses.(p174)

Any incidental expenses you have due to a casualty or theft, such as expenses for the treatment of personal injuries, for temporary housing, or for a rental car, aren't part of your casualty or theft loss.

Replacement cost.(p174)

The cost of replacing stolen or destroyed property isn't part of a casualty or theft loss.

Sentimental value.(p174)

Don't 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, as limited by your adjusted basis in the property.

Decline in market value of property in or near casualty area.(p174)

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, isn't 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 in Pub. 547.

Costs of photographs and appraisals.(p174)

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 aren't a part of the loss. You can claim these costs as a miscellaneous itemized deduction subject to the 2%-of-adjusted-gross-income limit on Schedule A (Form 1040). For information about miscellaneous deductions, see chapter 28.

Adjusted Basis(p174)

Adjusted basis is your basis in the property (usually cost) increased or decreased by various events, such as improvements and casualty losses. For more information, see chapter 13.

Insurance and Other Reimbursements(p174)

If you receive an insurance payment or other type of reimbursement, you must subtract the reimbursement when you figure your loss. You don't 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 don't receive payment until a later tax year. See Reimbursement Received After Deducting Loss, later.

Failure to file a claim for reimbursement.(p174)

If your property is covered by insurance, you must file a timely insurance claim for reimbursement of your loss. Otherwise, you can't deduct this loss as a casualty or theft loss. However, this rule doesn't apply to the portion of the loss not covered by insurance (for example, a deductible).


Your car insurance policy includes collision coverage with a $1,000 deductible. Because your insurance doesn't cover the first $1,000 of an auto collision, the $1,000 is deductible (subject to the deduction limits discussed later). This is true even if you don't file an insurance claim, because your insurance policy won't reimburse you for the deductible.

Types of Reimbursements(p174)

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.(p174)

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 figuring 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.(p175)

If you receive excludable cash gifts as a disaster victim and there are no limits on how you can use the money, you don't 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. Because it was an excludable gift, the money you received and used to pay for repairs to your home doesn't reduce your casualty loss on the damaged home.

Insurance payments for living expenses.(p175)

You don't reduce your casualty loss by insurance payments you receive to cover living expenses in either of the following situations.
Inclusion in income.(p175)
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 under Disaster Area Losses in Pub. 547.
A temporary increase in your living expenses is the difference between the actual living expenses you and your family incurred during the period you couldn't 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 didn't 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
2)Actual expenses during the month you are unable to use your home because of fire1,600 
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.(p175)
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 2014. You regained use of your home in November 2015. The insurance payments you received in 2014 and 2015 were $1,500 more than the temporary increase in your living expenses during those years. You include this amount in income on your 2015 Form 1040. If, in 2016, you received further payments to cover the living expenses you had in 2014 and 2015, you must include those payments in income on your 2016 Form 1040.

Disaster relief.(p175)

Food, medical supplies, and other forms of assistance you receive don't reduce your casualty loss unless they are replacements for lost or destroyed property.
Qualified disaster relief payments you receive for expenses you incurred as a result of a federally declared disaster aren't taxable income to you. For more information, see Disaster Area Losses in Pub. 547.
Disaster unemployment assistance payments are unemployment benefits that are taxable.
Generally, disaster relief grants and qualified disaster mitigation payments made under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act or the National Flood Insurance Act (as in effect on April 15, 2005) aren't includible in your income. See Disaster Area Losses in Pub. 547.

Reimbursement Received After Deducting Loss(p175)

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

Actual reimbursement less than expected.(p175)

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 an FMV of $2,000 when it was destroyed in a collision with another car in 2015. The accident was due to the negligence of the other driver. At the end of 2015, there was a reasonable prospect that the owner of the other car would reimburse you in full. You didn't have a deductible loss in 2015.
In January 2016, the court awarded you a judgment of $2,000. However, in July it became apparent that you will be unable to collect any amount from the other driver. You can deduct the loss in 2016 subject to the deduction limits discussed later.

Actual reimbursement more than expected.(p175)

If you later receive more reimbursement than you expected after you 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 didn't reduce your tax for the earlier year, don't include that part of the reimbursement in your income. You don't refigure your tax for the year you claimed the deduction. For more information, see Recoveries in chapter 12.
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. See Figuring a Gain in Pub. 547 for more information on how to treat a gain from the reimbursement of a casualty or theft.

Actual reimbursement same as expected.(p175)

If you receive exactly the reimbursement you expected to receive, you don't have to include any of the reimbursement in your income and you can't deduct any additional loss.


In December 2016, 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 didn't have a casualty loss deduction in 2016.
Due to the $100 rule (discussed later under Deduction Limits), you can't deduct the $100 you paid as the deductible. When you receive the $850 from the insurance company in 2017, don't report it as income.

Single Casualty on Multiple Properties(p176)


Personal property.(p176)

Personal property is any property that isn't real property. If your personal property is stolen or is damaged or destroyed by a casualty, you must figure your loss separately for each item of property. Then combine these separate losses to figure the total loss from that casualty or theft.


A fire in your home destroyed an upholstered chair, an oriental rug, and an antique table. You didn't have fire insurance to cover your loss. (This was the only casualty or theft you had during the year.) You paid $750 for the chair and you established that it had an FMV of $500 just before the fire. The rug cost $3,000 and had an FMV of $2,500 just before the fire. You bought the table at an auction for $100 before discovering it was an antique. It had been appraised at $900 before the fire. You figure your loss on each of these items as follows.
 1) Basis (cost) $750 $3,000 $100
 2) FMV before fire $500 $2,500 $900
 3) FMV after fire –0– –0– –0–
 4) Decrease in FMV $500 $2,500 $900
 5) Loss (smaller of (1) or
$500 $2,500 $100
 6)Total loss  $3,100

Real property.(p176)

In figuring a casualty loss on personal-use real property, treat the entire property (including any improvements, such as buildings, trees, and shrubs) as one item. Figure the loss using the smaller of the adjusted basis or the decrease in FMV of the entire property.


You bought your home a few years ago. You paid $160,000 ($20,000 for the land and $140,000 for the house). You also spent $2,000 for landscaping. This year a fire destroyed your home. The fire also damaged the shrubbery and trees in your yard. The fire was your only casualty or theft loss this year. Competent appraisers valued the property as a whole at $200,000 before the fire, but only $30,000 after the fire. (The loss to your household furnishings isn't shown in this example. It would be figured separately on each item, as explained earlier under Personal property.) Shortly after the fire, the insurance company paid you $155,000 for the loss. You figure your casualty loss as follows.
 1) Adjusted basis of the entire property (land, building, and landscaping) $162,000
 2) FMV of entire property before fire $200,000
 3) FMV of entire property after fire 30,000
 4) Decrease in FMV of entire
 5) Loss (smaller of (1) or (4)) $162,000
 6)Subtract insurance155,000
 7)Amount of loss after reimbursement$7,000