Stocks (Options, Splits, Traders) (2004 IRS FAQ)

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IRS FAQ 10.2 Capital Gains, Losses/Sale of Home: Stocks (Options, Splits, Traders)

How do I figure the cost basis of stock that has split, giving me more of the same stock, so I can figure my capital gain (or loss) on the sale of the stock?

When the old stock and the new stock are identical the basis of the old shares must be allocated to the old and new shares. Thus, you generally divide the adjusted basis of the old stock by the number of shares of old and new stock. The result is your new basis per share of stock. If the old shares were purchased in separate lots for differing amounts of money, the adjusted basis of the old stock must be allocated between the old and new stock on a lot by lot basis.


How do I figure the cost basis when the stocks I'm selling were purchased at various times and at different prices?

If you can identify which shares of stock you sold, your basis is what you paid for the shares sold (plus sales commissions). If you sell a block of the same kind of stock, you can report all the shares sold at the same time as one sale, writing VARIOUS in the "date acquired" column of Form 1040, Schedule D (PDF). However, what you enter into the "cost or other basis" column is the total of all the acquisition costs of the shares sold.

If you cannot adequately identify the shares you sold and you bought the shares at various times for different prices, the basis of the stock sold is the basis of the shares you acquired first (first-in first-out). Except for certain mutual fund shares, you cannot use the average price per share to figure gain or loss on the sale of stock.

For more information, refer to Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses.


How do we show on our tax form where dividends are reinvested?

Some corporations allow investors to choose to use their dividends to buy more shares of stock in the corporation instead of receiving the dividends in cash. If you are a member of this type of plan, you must report the fair market value on the dividend payment date of the dividends that are reinvested as income on your tax return. You do not actually show that the dividends were reinvested on your return. Keep good records of the dollar amount of the reinvested dividends, the number of additional shares purchased, and the purchase dates. You will need this information when you sell the shares.

Report the dividends that were reinvested with your other dividends, if any, on line 9 of Form 1040 or Form 1040A. If your total income from ordinary dividends is over $1,500.00, you also must file either Form 1040, Schedule B (PDF) or Form 1040A, Schedule 1 (PDF).

For more information on this and other types of dividend reinvestment plans, refer to Ordinary Dividends in Chapter 1 of Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses.


How do I compute the basis for stock I sold, when I received the stock over several years through a dividend reinvestment plan?

The basis of the stock you sold is the cost of the shares plus any adjustments, such as sales commissions. If you have not kept detailed records of your dividend reinvestments, you may be able to reconstruct those records with the help of public records from sources such as the media, your broker, or the company that issued the dividends.

If you cannot specifically identify which shares were sold, you must use the first-in first-out rule. This means that you deem that you sold the oldest shares first, then the next oldest, then the next-to-the-next oldest, until you have accounted for the number of shares in the sale. In order to establish the basis of these shares, you need to have kept adequate documentation of all your purchases, including those that were through the dividend reinvestment plan. You may not use an average cost basis. Only mutual fund shares may have an average cost basis.

Refer to Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses, and Publication 551, Basis of Assets.


How do I report an employee stock purchase plan on my tax return?

If your stock option is granted under an employee stock purchase plan, you do not include any amount in your gross income as a result of the grant or exercise of your option. When you sell the stock that you purchased by exercising the option, you may have to report compensation and capital gain or capital loss. For additional information on tax treatment and holding period requirements, refer to Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income.


I purchased stock from my employer under an employee stock purchase plan. Now I have received a Form 1099-B from selling it. How do I report this?

If the special holding period requirements are met, generally treat gain or loss from the sale of the stock as capital gain or loss. However, you may have compensation income if:
  1. The option price of the stock was below the stock's fair market value at the time the option was granted, or
  2. You did not meet the holding period requirement.

The holding period requirement is that you must hold the stock for more than 2 years from the time the option is granted to you and for more than 1 year from when the stock was transferred to you. If you do not meet these holding period requirements, there is a disqualifying disposition of the stock. The compensation income that you should report in the year of the disposition is the excess of the fair market value of the stock on the date the stock was transferred to you less the amount paid for the shares.

If the holding period requirement are met, but the option price is below the fair market value of the stock at the time the option was granted, you report the difference as compensation income (wages) when you sell the stock. Generally, this compensation income is the lesser of the excess of the fair market value of the stock on the date of the disposition less the exercise price OR the excess of the fair market value of the stock at the time the option was granted less the exercise price.

If your gain is more than the amount you report as compensation income, the remainder is a capital gain reported on Form 1040, Schedule D (PDF). If you sell the stock for less than the amount you paid for it, your loss is a capital loss, and you do not have ordinary income.

For more information, refer to Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income, and Publication 551, Basis of Assets.


Should I advise the IRS why amounts reported on Form 1099-B do not agree with my Schedule D for proceeds from short sales of stock not closed by the end of year that I did not include?

If you are able to defer the reporting of gain or loss until the year the short sale closes, the following will allow you to reconcile your Forms 1099-B to your Schedule D and still not recognize the gain or loss from the short sale:
  • Your total of lines 3 and 10, column (d), on your Schedule D should equal your total gross proceeds reported to you on all Forms 1099-B.
  • In columns (b) and (c) write "SHORT SALE," and
  • in column (f) write "See attached statement."
  • In your statement, explain the details of your short sale and that it has not closed as of the end of the year. Include your name as it appears on the return and your social security number.

For more on these rules and exceptions that may apply, refer to Chapter 4 of Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses.


Do I need to pay taxes on that portion of stock I gained as a result of a split?

No, you generally do not need to pay tax on the additional shares of stock you received due to the stock split. You will need to adjust your per share cost of the stock. Your overall cost basis has not changed, but your per share cost has changed.

You will have to pay taxes if you have gain when you sell the stock. Gain is the amount of the proceeds from the sale, minus sales commissions, that exceeds the adjusted basis of the stock sold.



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