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Publication 17

Chapter 13
Basis of Property(p100)

What’s New(p100)

At the time this publication went to print, Congress was considering legislation that would do the following.
  1. Provide additional tax relief for those affected by Hurricane Harvey, Irma, or Maria, and tax relief for those affected by other 2017 disasters, such as the California wildfires.
  2. Extend certain tax benefits that expired at the end of 2016 and that currently can’t be claimed on your 2017 tax return.
  3. Change certain other tax provisions.
To learn whether this legislation was enacted resulting in changes that affect your 2017 tax return, go to Recent Developments at
This chapter discusses how to figure your basis in property. It is divided into the following sections.
Your basis is the amount of your investment in property for tax purposes. Use the basis to figure the gain or loss on the sale, exchange, or other disposition of property. Also use it to figure deductions for depreciation, amortization, depletion, and casualty losses.
If you use property for both business or for production of income purposes, and for personal purposes, you must allocate the basis based on the use. Only the basis allocated to the business or the production of income part of the property can be depreciated.
Your original basis in property is adjusted (increased or decreased) by certain events. For example, if you make improvements to the property, increase your basis. If you take deductions for depreciation or casualty losses, or claim certain credits, reduce your basis.
Where Refund
Keep accurate records of all items that affect the basis of your property. For more information on keeping records, see chapter 1.


Useful items

You may want to see:

 15-B Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits
 525 Taxable and Nontaxable Income
 535 Business Expenses
 537 Installment Sales
 544 Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets
 550 Investment Income and Expenses
 551 Basis of Assets
 946 How To Depreciate Property

Cost Basis(p100)

The basis of property you buy is usually its cost. The cost is the amount you pay in cash, debt obligations, other property, or services. Your cost also includes amounts you pay for the following items. In addition, the basis of real estate and business assets may include other items.

Loans with low or no interest.(p100)

If you buy property on a time-payment plan that charges little or no interest, the basis of your property is your stated purchase price minus any amount considered to be unstated interest. You generally have unstated interest if your interest rate is less than the applicable federal rate.
For more information, see Unstated Interest and Original Issue Discount (OID) in Pub. 537.

Real Property(p100)

Real property, also called real estate, is land and generally anything built on, growing on, or attached to land.
If you buy real property, certain fees and other expenses you pay are part of your cost basis in the property.

Lump-sum purchase.(p100)

If you buy buildings and the land on which they stand for a lump sum, allocate the cost basis between the land and the buildings. Allocate the cost basis according to the respective fair market values (FMVs) of the land and buildings at the time of purchase. Figure the basis of each asset by multiplying the lump sum by a fraction. The numerator is the FMV of that asset and the denominator is the FMV of the whole property at the time of purchase.
If you are not certain of the FMVs of the land and buildings, you can allocate the basis according to their assessed values for real estate tax purposes.
Fair market value (FMV).(p100)
FMV is the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither having to buy or sell, and both having reasonable knowledge of all the necessary facts. Sales of similar property on or about the same date may be helpful in figuring the FMV of the property.

Assumption of mortgage.(p100)

If you buy property and assume (or buy the property subject to) an existing mortgage on the property, your basis includes the amount you pay for the property plus the amount to be paid on the mortgage.

Settlement costs.(p100)

Your basis includes the settlement fees and closing costs you paid for buying the property. (A fee for buying property is a cost that must be paid even if you buy the property for cash.) Do not include fees and costs for getting a loan on the property in your basis.
The following are some of the settlement fees or closing costs you can include in the basis of your property.
Settlement costs do not include amounts placed in escrow for the future payment of items such as taxes and insurance.
The following are some of the settlement fees and closing costs you cannot include in the basis of property.

Real estate taxes.(p101)

If you pay real estate taxes the seller owed on real property you bought, and the seller did not reimburse you, treat those taxes as part of your basis. You cannot deduct the taxes as an expense.
If you reimburse the seller for taxes the seller paid for you, you can usually deduct that amount as an expense in the year of purchase. Do not include the amount of real estate taxes you deducted as an expense in the basis of your property. If you did not reimburse the seller, you must reduce your basis by the amount of those taxes.


If you pay points to get a loan (including a mortgage, second mortgage, line of credit, or a home equity loan), do not add the points to the basis of the related property. Generally, you deduct the points over the term of the loan. For more information on how to deduct points, see chapter 23.
Points on home mortgage.(p101)
Special rules may apply to points you and the seller pay when you get a mortgage to buy your main home. If certain requirements are met, you can deduct the points in full for the year in which they are paid. Reduce the basis of your home by any seller-paid points.