Mutual Funds and Cost Basis Reporting – IRS

With each sale or exchange of mutual fund shares, you may realize a capital gain or loss that must be reported to the IRS. To calculate gains and losses, you need to determine which shares were sold and the cost basis of those shares. The sales proceeds minus the cost basis of the shares is your gain or loss.

The IRS permits four methods of accounting for mutual fund cost basis:

First-In, First-Out (FIFO) Method

  • The FIFO method is the most common way of computing a basis. If you do not specify that another method is being used, the IRS will presume you are using the FIFO method. As the name implies, the oldest shares available (first-in) are those considered sold first (first-out).

Specific Identification Method

  • The specific identification method allows you to choose which shares you are selling, thereby giving you more control over whether you will generate a gain or loss by the transaction. To use this method, you must specify to the mutual fund at the time of sale the particular shares to be sold. Your gain or loss will vary, depending on which shares you choose.

Average Cost – Single and Double Category

  • You may elect to calculate the cost basis of your mutual fund shares using an average price. There are some special requirements if you wish to do so. The IRS requires you to elect this method by stating so on your tax return and by using the method consistently for all your accounts in the same fund. The choice is effective until you get permission from the IRS to revoke it. These methods may be appealing for shareholders who redeem shares infrequently. 

    The single category method averages all shares owned at the time of sale.

    In determining the holding period, the IRS considers the shares sold to be those shares acquired first (i.e., first-in, first-out).

    The double category method requires you to divide all shares owned at the time of sale into two categories (long- and short-term) and calculate an average cost for each category. Shares held one year or less are short-term. Shares held longer than one year are long-term.

    Similar to the specific identification method, you may specify to the fund at the time of sale from which category you wish to sell shares. If no specification is made, you must first charge the shares sold against the long-term category and then any remaining shares sold against the short-term category.

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Author: Warren Orlans

Welcome to the blog for Intaxicating Tax Services, www.intaxicating.ca. My name is Warren Orlans and I am the owner of inTAXicating Tax Services. With over 17-years experience in the taxation industry, 11 of them working for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and the rest working in the private sector at large financial institutions responsible for resolving tax issues for corporations and individuals and the Canadian lead for a large US bank on FATCA implementation. My tax career began pretty much out of university at the CRA, in Collections, where I moved up, across, over and up again through their division with stops in Enforcement, Taxpayer Relief (then Fairness), Audit, Directors Liability, Training, Mentoring, GST, GST/HST, Payroll, Corporate Tax, Personal tax, and probably much more. If you have a collections, compliance or audit issue with the CRA, MRQ, IRS or with the CRTC, WSIB or any aspect of those agencies, inTAXicating is the place you need to contact. inTAXicating Tax Services has strategic partnerships which allows my team to include amazing tax lawyers, insolvency practitioners, mortgage brokers, debt counselling experts and much more. When dealing with governments, knowledge is power. We possess strong understanding of government so we know what the next step is before the government does. When you have a collections problem with the CRA, do you hire a graphic artist? No, you get a former collector who trained the staff, and who worked as a resource officer for 5 years. Then you know you are on the right track to resolving your tax problem(s). Others offer suggestions. We offer solutions! info@intaxicating.ca

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