Publication 551 (Rev. December 2016) P551

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Information for Beneficiaries Receiving
Schedule A (Form 8971)
Form 8971. Form 8971, Information Regarding Beneficiaries Acquiring
Property From a Decedent, and its Schedule A, are used to comply with
the reporting requirements regarding consistency of basis for assets
acquired from an estate. In certain circumstances, an executor of an
estate (or other person) required to file an estate tax return after July 31,
2015, will be required to provide a Schedule A (Form 8971) to a beneficiary
who receives or is to receive property from an estate. For more information
about when Form 8971 and Schedule A must be completed, see the
Instructions for Form 8971 and Schedule A.
The beneficiary uses the final estate tax value of the property reported on
the Schedule A to determine his or her basis in the property. When
calculating a basis consistent with the final estate tax value, start with the
reported value and then make any allowed adjustments.

of the

Publication 551
(Rev. December 2016)


Cat. No. 15094C

Future Developments . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Basis of

Reminder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Cost Basis . . . . . . .
Stocks and Bonds
Real Property . . .
Business Assets .
Allocating the Basis














Adjusted Basis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Increases to Basis . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Decreases to Basis . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Basis Other Than Cost . . . . . .
Property Received for Services
Taxable Exchanges . . . . . .
Nontaxable Exchanges . . . .
Property Transferred From a
Spouse . . . . . . . . . . .
Property Received as a Gift . .
Inherited Property . . . . . . .
Property Changed to Business
or Rental Use . . . . . . . .
How To Get Tax Help







..... 8
..... 8
..... 9
. . . . 10

. . . . . . . . . . . 10

Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

Future Developments
For the latest information about developments
related to Pub. 551, such as legislation enacted
after this publication was published, go to

Photographs of missing children. The Inter­
nal Revenue Service is a proud partner with the
National Center for Missing & Exploited
Children® (NCMEC). Photographs of missing
children selected by the Center may appear in
this publication on pages that would otherwise
be blank. You can help bring these children
home by looking at the photographs and calling
1­800­THE­LOST (1­800­843­5678) if you rec­
ognize a child.


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Basis is the amount of your investment in prop­
erty for tax purposes. Use the basis of property
to figure depreciation, amortization, depletion,
and casualty losses. Also use it to figure gain or
loss on the sale or other disposition of property.
You must keep accurate records of all items
that affect the basis of property so you can
make these computations.
This publication is divided into the following
Cost Basis

Adjusted Basis
Basis Other Than Cost
The basis of property you buy is usually its
cost. You may also have to capitalize (add to
basis) certain other costs related to buying or
producing the property.
Your original basis in property is adjusted
(increased or decreased) by certain events. If
you make improvements to the property, in­
crease your basis. If you take deductions for de­
preciation or casualty losses, reduce your ba­
You cannot determine your basis in some
assets by cost. This includes property you re­
ceive as a gift or inheritance. It also applies to
property received in an involuntary conversion
and certain other circumstances.
Comments and suggestions. We welcome
your comments about this publication and your
suggestions for future editions.
You can send us comments from
formspubs. Click on “More Information” and
then on “Give us feedback.”
Or you can write to:
Internal Revenue Service
Tax Forms and Publications
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR­6526
Washington, DC 20224
We respond to many letters by telephone.
Therefore, it would be helpful if you would in­
clude your daytime phone number, including
the area code, in your correspondence.
Although we cannot respond individually to
each comment received, we do appreciate your
feedback and will consider your comments as
we revise our tax products.
Ordering forms and publications. Visit to download forms and
publications. Otherwise, you can go to
orderforms to order current and prior­year forms
and instructions. Your order should arrive within
10 business days.
Tax questions. If you have a tax question
not answered by this publication, check and How To Get Tax Help at the end of
this publication.

Useful Items

You may want to see:
463 Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car
523 Selling Your Home
525 Taxable and Nontaxable Income
527 Residential Rental Property
530 Tax Information for Homeowners
535 Business Expenses
537 Installment Sales
544 Sales and Other Dispositions of
547 Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts
550 Investment Income and Expenses
Page 2

559 Survivors, Executors, and
587 Business Use of Your Home
946 How To Depreciate Property
Form (and Instructions)
706 United States Estate (and
Generation­Skipping Transfer) Tax
706-A United States Additional Estate Tax
8594 Asset Acquisition Statement
See How To Get Tax Help near the end of this
publication for information about getting publi­
cations and forms.

Cost Basis
Terms you may need to know
(see Glossary):
Business assets
Real property
Unstated interest

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 fol­
lowing items.
Sales tax.
Installation and testing.
Excise taxes.
Legal and accounting fees (when they
must be capitalized).
Revenue stamps.
Recording fees.
Real estate taxes (if assumed for the
You may also have to capitalize (add to basis)
certain other costs related to buying or produc­
ing property.
Loans with low or no interest. If you buy
property on a time­payment plan that charges
little or no interest, the basis of your property is
your stated purchase price, minus the amount
considered to be unstated interest. You gener­
ally have unstated interest if your interest rate is
less than the applicable federal rate. For more
information, see Unstated Interest and Original
Issue Discount in Pub. 537.
Purchase of a business. When you purchase
a trade or business, you generally purchase all
assets used in the business operations, such as
land, buildings, and machinery. Allocate the
price among the various assets, including any
section 197 intangibles. See Allocating the Ba­
sis, later.

Stocks and Bonds
The basis of stocks or bonds you buy is gener­
ally the purchase price plus any costs of pur­
chase, such as commissions and recording or
transfer fees. If you get stocks or bonds other

than by purchase, your basis is usually deter­
mined by the fair market value (FMV) or the pre­
vious owner's adjusted basis of the stock.
You must adjust the basis of stocks for cer­
tain events that occur after purchase. See
Stocks and Bonds in chapter 4 of Pub. 550 for
more information on the basis of stock.
Identifying stock or bonds sold. If you can
adequately identify the shares of stock or the
bonds you sold, their basis is the cost or other
basis of the particular shares of stock or bonds.
If you buy and sell securities at various times in
varying quantities and you cannot adequately
identify the shares you sell, the basis of the se­
curities you sell is the basis of the securities you
acquired first. For more information about iden­
tifying securities you sell, see Stocks and
Bonds under Basis of Investment Property in
chapter 4 of Pub. 550.
Mutual fund shares. If you sell mutual fund
shares acquired at different times and prices,
you can choose to use an average basis. For
more information, see Pub. 550.

Real Property
Real property, also called real estate, is land
and generally anything built on or attached to it.
If you buy real property, certain fees and other
expenses become part of your cost basis in the
Real estate taxes. 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
them as taxes.
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 that amount in the basis of the
property. If you did not reimburse the seller, you
must reduce your basis by the amount of those
Settlement costs. Your basis includes the set­
tlement fees and closing costs for buying prop­
erty. You cannot include in your basis the fees
and costs for getting a loan on property. A fee
for buying property is a cost that must be paid
even if you bought the property for cash.
The following items are some of the settle­
ment fees or closing costs you can include in
the basis of your property.
Abstract fees (abstract of title fees).
Charges for installing utility services.
Legal fees (including title search and prep­
aration of the sales contract and deed).
Recording fees.
Transfer taxes.
Owner's title insurance.
Any amounts the seller owes that you
agree to pay, such as back taxes or inter­
est, recording or mortgage fees, charges
for improvements or repairs, and sales
Settlement costs do not include amounts
placed in escrow for the future payment of items
such as taxes and insurance.
Publication 551 (December 2016)

The following items are some settlement
fees and closing costs you cannot include in the
basis of the property.
1. Casualty insurance premiums.
2. Rent for occupancy of the property before
3. Charges for utilities or other services rela­
ted to occupancy of the property before
4. Charges connected with getting a loan.
The following are examples of these
a. Points (discount points, loan origina­
tion fees).
b. Mortgage insurance premiums.
c. Loan assumption fees.
d. Cost of a credit report.
e. Fees for an appraisal required by a
5. Fees for refinancing a mortgage.
If these costs relate to business property, items
(1) through (3) are deductible as business ex­
penses. Items (4) and (5) must be capitalized
as costs of getting a loan and can be deducted
over the period of the loan.
Points. If you pay points to obtain a loan (in­
cluding a mortgage, second mortgage, line of
credit, or a home equity loan), do not add the
points to the basis of the related property. Gen­
erally, you deduct the points over the term of
the loan. For more information on how to deduct
points, see Points in chapter 4 of Pub. 535.
Points on home mortgage. Special rules
may apply to points you and the seller pay
when you obtain a mortgage to purchase 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 seller­paid points. For more information,
see Points in Pub. 936, Home Mortgage Inter­
est Deduction.
Assumption of mortgage. If you buy property
and assume (or buy 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.
Example. If you buy a building for $20,000
cash and assume a mortgage of $80,000 on it,
your basis is $100,000.
Constructing assets. If you build property or
have assets built for you, your expenses for this
construction are part of your basis. Some of
these expenses include the following costs.
Labor and materials.
Architect's fees.
Building permit charges.
Payments to contractors.
Payments for rental equipment.
Inspection fees.
In addition, if you own a business and use your
employees, material, and equipment to build an

Publication 551 (December 2016)

asset, do not deduct the following expenses.
You must include them in the asset's basis.
Employee wages paid for the construction
work, reduced by any employment credits
Depreciation on equipment you own while
it is used in the construction.
Operating and maintenance costs for
equipment used in the construction.
The cost of business supplies and materi­
als used in the construction.
Do not include the value of your own la­
bor, or any other labor you did not pay
CAUTION for, in the basis of any property you


Business Assets
Terms you may need to know
(see Glossary):
Fair market value
Going concern value
Intangible property
Personal property
Section 179 deduction
Section 197 intangibles
Tangible property

If you purchase property to use in your busi­
ness, your basis is usually its actual cost to you.
If you construct, create, or otherwise produce
property, you must capitalize the costs as your
basis. In certain circumstances, you may be
subject to the uniform capitalization rules, next.

Uniform Capitalization Rules
The uniform capitalization rules specify the
costs you add to basis in certain circumstances.

part of most indirect costs you incur due to your
production or resale activities. To capitalize
means to include certain expenses in the basis
of property you produce or in your inventory
costs rather than deduct them as a current ex­
pense. You recover these costs through deduc­
tions for depreciation, amortization, or cost of
goods sold when you use, sell, or otherwise dis­
pose of the property.
Any cost you cannot use to figure your taxa­
ble income for any tax year is not subject to the
uniform capitalization rules.
Example. If you incur a business meal ex­
pense for which your deduction would be limi­
ted to 50% of the cost of the meal, that amount
is subject to the uniform capitalization rules.
The nondeductible part of the cost is not subject
to the uniform capitalization rules.
More information. For more information about
these rules, see the regulations under section
263A of the Internal Revenue Code and Pub.
538, Accounting Periods and Methods.
Exceptions. The following are not subject to
the uniform capitalization rules.
Property you produce that you do not use
in your trade, business, or activity conduc­
ted for profit.
Qualified creative expenses you pay or in­
cur as a freelance (self­employed) writer,
photographer, or artist that are otherwise
deductible on your tax return.
Property you produce under a long­term
contract, except for certain home construc­
tion contracts.
Research and experimental expenses de­
ductible under section 174 of the Internal
Revenue Code.
Costs for personal property acquired for
resale if your (or your predecessor's) aver­
age annual gross receipts for the 3 previ­
ous tax years do not exceed $10 million.
For other exceptions to the uniform capitaliza­
tion rules, see section 1.263A­1(b) of the regu­
For information on the special rules that ap­
ply to costs incurred in the business of farming,
see chapter 6 in Pub. 225, Farmer's Tax Guide.

Activities subject to the rules. You must use
the uniform capitalization rules if you do any of
the following in your trade or business or activity
carried on for profit.
Produce real or tangible personal property
for use in the business or activity.
Produce real or tangible personal property
for sale to customers.
Acquire property for resale. However, this
rule does not apply to personal property if
your average annual gross receipts for the
3 previous tax years are $10 million or

Intangible assets include goodwill, patents,
copyrights, trademarks, trade names, and
franchises. The basis of an intangible asset is
usually the cost to buy or create it. If you ac­
quire multiple assets, for example, an ongoing
business for a lump sum, see Allocating the Ba­
sis, later, to figure the basis of the individual as­
sets. The basis of certain intangibles can be
amortized. See chapter 8 of Pub. 535 for infor­
mation on the amortization of these costs.

You produce property if you construct, build,
install, manufacture, develop, improve, create,
raise, or grow the property. Treat property pro­
duced for you under a contract as produced by
you up to the amount you pay or costs you oth­
erwise incur for the property. Tangible personal
property includes films, sound recordings, video
tapes, books, or similar property.
Under the uniform capitalization rules, you
must capitalize all direct costs and an allocable

Patents. The basis of a patent you get for an
invention is the cost of development, such as
research and experimental expenditures, draw­
ings, working models, and attorneys' and gov­
ernmental fees. If you deduct the research and
experimental expenditures as current business
expenses, you cannot include them in the basis
of the patent. The value of the inventor's time
spent on an invention is not part of the basis.

Intangible Assets

Page 3

Copyrights. If you are an author, the basis of a
copyright will usually be the cost of getting the
copyright plus copyright fees, attorneys' fees,
clerical assistance, and the cost of plates that
remain in your possession. Do not include the
value of your time as the author, or any other
person's time you did not pay for.

binding on both parties unless the IRS deter­
mines the amounts are not appropriate.

Franchises, trademarks, and trade names.
If you buy a franchise, trademark, or trade
name, the basis is its cost, unless you can de­
duct your payments as a business expense.

Reporting requirement. Both the buyer and
seller involved in the sale of business assets
must report to the IRS the allocation of the sales
price among section 197 intangibles and the
other business assets. Use Form 8594 to pro­
vide this information. The buyer and seller
should each attach Form 8594 to their federal
income tax return for the year in which the sale

Allocating the Basis

More information. See Sale of a Business in
chapter 2 of Pub. 544 for more information.

If you buy multiple assets for a lump sum, allo­
cate the amount you pay among the assets you
receive. You must make this allocation to figure
your basis for depreciation and gain or loss on a
later disposition of any of these assets. See
Trade or Business Acquired below.

Group of Assets Acquired
If you buy multiple assets for a lump sum, you
and the seller may agree to a specific allocation
of the purchase price among the assets in the
sales contract. If this allocation is based on the
value of each asset and you and the seller have
adverse tax interests, the allocation generally
will be accepted. However, see Trade or Busi­
ness Acquired, next.

Trade or Business Acquired
If you acquire a trade or business, allocate the
consideration paid to the various assets ac­
quired. Generally, reduce the consideration
paid by any cash and general deposit accounts
(including checking and savings accounts) re­
ceived. Allocate the remaining consideration to
the other business assets received in propor­
tion to (but not more than) their fair market value
in the following order.
1. Certificates of deposit, U.S. Government
securities, foreign currency, and actively
traded personal property, including stock
and securities.
2. Accounts receivable, other debt instru­
ments, and assets you mark to market at
least annually for federal income tax pur­
3. Property of a kind that would properly be
included in inventory if on hand at the end
of the tax year or property held primarily
for sale to customers in the ordinary
course of business.
4. All other assets except section 197 intan­
gibles, goodwill, and going concern value.
5. Section 197 intangibles except goodwill
and going concern value.
6. Goodwill and going concern value
(whether or not they qualify as section 197
Agreement. The buyer and seller may enter
into a written agreement as to the allocation of
any consideration or the fair market value
(FMV) of any of the assets. This agreement is
Page 4

Land and Buildings
If you buy buildings and the land on which they
stand for a lump sum, allocate the basis of the
property among the land and the buildings so
you can figure the depreciation allowable on the
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 FMV of
the land and buildings, you can allocate the ba­
sis based on their assessed values for real es­
tate tax purposes.
Demolition of building. Add demolition costs
and other losses incurred for the demolition of
any building to the basis of the land on which
the demolished building was located. Do not
claim the costs as a current deduction.
Modification of building. A modification of
a building will not be treated as a demolition if
the following conditions are satisfied.
75 percent or more of the existing external
walls of the building are retained in place
as internal or external walls, and
75 percent or more of the existing internal
structural framework of the building is re­
tained in place.
If the building is a certified historic structure,
the modification must also be part of a certified
If these conditions are met, add the costs of
the modifications to the basis of the building.
Subdivided lots. If you buy a tract of land and
subdivide it, you must determine the basis of
each lot. This is necessary because you must
figure the gain or loss on the sale of each indi­
vidual lot. As a result, you do not recover your
entire cost in the tract until you have sold all of
the lots.
To determine the basis of an individual lot,
multiply the total cost of the tract by a fraction.
The numerator is the FMV of the lot and the de­
nominator is the FMV of the entire tract.
Future improvement costs. If you are a
developer and sell subdivided lots before the
development work is completed, you can (with
IRS consent) include in the basis of the proper­
ties sold an allocation of the estimated future
cost for common improvements. See Revenue

Procedure 92­29, 1992­1 C.B. 748 for more in­
formation, including an explanation of the pro­
cedures for getting consent from the IRS.
Use of erroneous cost basis. If you made
a mistake in figuring the cost basis of subdivi­
ded lots sold in previous years, you cannot cor­
rect the mistake for years for which the statute
of limitations (generally 3 tax years) has ex­
pired. Figure the basis of any remaining lots by
allocating the correct original cost basis of the
entire tract among the original lots.
Example. You bought a tract of land to
which you assigned a cost of $15,000. You sub­
divided the land into 15 building lots of equal
size and equitably divided your basis so that
each lot had a basis of $1,000. You treated the
sale of each lot as a separate transaction and
figured gain or loss separately on each sale.
Several years later you determine that your
original basis in the tract was $22,500 and not
$15,000. You sold eight lots using $8,000 of ba­
sis in years for which the statute of limitations
has expired. You now can take $1,500 of basis
into account for figuring gain or loss only on the
sale of each of the remaining seven lots
($22,500 basis divided among all 15 lots). You
cannot refigure the basis of the eight lots sold in
tax years barred by the statute of limitations.

Adjusted Basis
Before figuring gain or loss on a sale, ex­
change, or other disposition of property or figur­
ing allowable depreciation, depletion, or amorti­
zation, you must usually make certain
adjustments to the basis of the property. The re­
sult of these adjustments to the basis is the ad­
justed basis.

Increases to Basis
Increase the basis of any property by all items
properly added to a capital account. These in­
clude the cost of any improvements having a
useful life of more than 1 year.
Rehabilitation expenses also increase basis.
However, you must subtract any rehabilitation
credit allowed for these expenses before you
add them to your basis. If you have to recapture
any of the credit, increase your basis by the re­
captured amount.
If you make additions or improvements to
business property, keep separate accounts for
them. Also, you must depreciate the basis of
each according to the depreciation rules that
would apply to the underlying property if you
had placed it in service at the same time you
placed the addition or improvement in service.
For more information, see Pub. 946.
The following items increase the basis of
The cost of extending utility service lines to
the property.
Impact fees.
Legal fees, such as the cost of defending
and perfecting title.
Legal fees for obtaining a decrease in an
assessment levied against property to pay
for local improvements.
Publication 551 (December 2016)

Table 1. Examples of Increases and Decreases to Basis
Increases to Basis
Capital improvements:
Putting an addition on your home
Replacing an entire roof
Paving your driveway
Installing central air conditioning
Rewiring your home
Assessments for local improvements:
Water connections
Casualty losses:
Restoring damaged property
Legal fees:
Cost of defending and perfecting a title
Zoning costs
Zoning costs.
The capitalized value of a redeemable
ground rent.

Assessments for
Local Improvements
Increase the basis of property by assessments
for items such as paving roads and building
ditches that increase the value of the property
assessed. Do not deduct them as taxes. How­
ever, you can deduct as taxes charges for
maintenance, repairs, or interest charges rela­
ted to the improvements.
Example. Your city changes the street in
front of your store into an enclosed pedestrian
mall and assesses you and other affected land­
owners for the cost of the conversion. Add the
assessment to your property's basis. In this ex­
ample, the assessment is a depreciable asset.

Deducting vs. Capitalizing Costs
Do not add to your basis costs you can deduct
as current expenses. For example, amounts
paid for incidental repairs or maintenance that
are deductible as business expenses cannot be
added to basis. However, you can choose ei­
ther to deduct or to capitalize certain other
costs. If you capitalize these costs, include
them in your basis. If you deduct them, do not
include them in your basis. See Uniform Capi­
talization Rules earlier.
The costs you can choose to deduct or to
capitalize include the following.
Carrying charges, such as interest and
taxes, that you pay to own property, except
carrying charges that must be capitalized
under the uniform capitalization rules.
Research and experimentation costs.
Intangible drilling and development costs
for oil, gas, and geothermal wells.
Exploration costs for new mineral deposits.
Mining development costs for a new min­
eral deposit.
Costs of establishing, maintaining, or in­
creasing the circulation of a newspaper or
other periodical.
Publication 551 (December 2016)

Decreases to Basis
Exclusion from income of subsidies for energy
conservation measures
Casualty or theft loss deductions and
insurance reimbursements
Certain vehicle credits
Section 179 deduction

Nontaxable corporate distributions

Costs of removing architectural and trans­
portation barriers to people with disabilities
and the elderly. If you claim the disabled
access credit, you must reduce the amount
you deduct or capitalize by the amount of
the credit.
For more information about deducting or
capitalizing costs, see chapter 7 in Pub. 535.

Decreases to Basis
The following are some items that reduce the
basis of property.
Section 179 deduction.
Nontaxable corporate distributions.
Deductions previously allowed (or allowa­
ble) for amortization, depreciation, and de­
Exclusion of subsidies for energy conser­
vation measures.
Certain vehicle credits.
Residential energy credits.
Postponed gain from sale of home.
Investment credit (part or all) taken.
Casualty and theft losses and insurance
Certain canceled debt excluded from in­
Rebates treated as adjustments to the
sales price.
Gas­guzzler tax.
Adoption tax benefits.
Credit for employer­provided child care.
Some of these items are discussed next.

Casualties and Thefts
If you have a casualty or theft loss, decrease
the basis in your property by any insurance or
other reimbursement and by any deductible
loss not covered by insurance.
You must increase your basis in the property
by the amount you spend on repairs that sub­
stantially prolong the life of the property, in­
crease its value, or adapt it to a different use.
To make this determination, compare the

repaired property to the property before the
casualty. For more information on casualty and
theft losses, see Pub. 547.

The amount you receive for granting an ease­
ment is generally considered to be a sale of an
interest in real property. It reduces the basis of
the affected part of the property. If the amount
received is more than the basis of the part of
the property affected by the easement, reduce
your basis in that part to zero and treat the ex­
cess as a recognized gain.

Vehicle Credits
Unless you elect not to claim the qualified vehi­
cle credit, the alternative motor vehicle credit, or
the qualified plug­in electric drive motor vehicle
credit, you may have to reduce the basis of
each qualified vehicle by certain amounts repor­
ted. For more information on available credits,
see Form 8834, Qualified Electric Vehicle
Credit; Form 8910, Alternative Motor Vehicle
Credit; Form 8936, Qualified Plug­in Electric
Drive Motor Vehicle Credit; and the related in­

Gas-Guzzler Tax
Decrease the basis in your car by the gas­guz­
zler (fuel economy) tax if you begin using the
car within 1 year of the date of its first sale for
ultimate use. This rule also applies to someone
who later buys the car and begins using it not
more than 1 year after the original sale for ulti­
mate use. If the car is imported, the one­year
period begins on the date of entry or withdrawal
of the car from the warehouse if that date is
later than the date of the first sale for ultimate

Section 179 Deduction
If you take the section 179 deduction for all or
part of the cost of qualifying business property,
decrease the basis of the property by the de­
duction. For more information about the section
179 deduction, see Pub. 946.

Exclusion of Subsidies for Energy
Conservation Measures
You can exclude from gross income any sub­
sidy you received from a public utility company
for the purchase or installation of any energy
conservation measure for a dwelling unit. Re­
duce the basis of the property for which you re­
ceived the subsidy by the excluded amount. For
more information on this subsidy, see Pub. 525.

Decrease the basis of property by the deprecia­
tion you deducted, or could have deducted, on
your tax returns under the method of deprecia­
tion you chose. If you took less depreciation
than you could have under the method chosen,
decrease the basis by the amount you could
have taken under that method. If you did not
take a depreciation deduction, reduce the basis
Page 5

by the full amount of the depreciation you could
have taken.

Postponed Gain From Sale of

Unless a timely election is made not to de­
duct the special depreciation allowance for
property placed in service after September 10,
2001, decrease the property's basis by the spe­
cial depreciation allowance you deducted or
could have deducted.

If you postponed gain from the sale of your
main home before May 7, 1997, you must re­
duce the basis of your new home by the post­
poned gain. For more information on the rules
for the sale of a home, see Pub. 523.

If you deducted more depreciation than you
should have, decrease your basis by the
amount equal to the depreciation you should
have deducted plus the part of the excess de­
preciation you deducted that actually reduced
your tax liability for the year.
In decreasing your basis for depreciation,
take into account the amount deducted on your
tax returns as depreciation and any deprecia­
tion capitalized under the uniform capitalization
For information on figuring depreciation, see
Pub. 946.
If you are claiming depreciation on a busi­
ness vehicle, see Pub. 463. If the car is not
used more than 50% for business during the tax
year, you may have to recapture excess depre­
ciation. Include the excess depreciation in your
gross income and add it to your basis in the
property. For information on the computation of
excess depreciation, see chapter 4 in Pub. 463.

Canceled Debt Excluded
From Income
If a debt you owe is canceled or forgiven, other
than as a gift or bequest, you generally must in­
clude the canceled amount in your gross in­
come for tax purposes. A debt includes any in­
debtedness for which you are liable or which
attaches to property you hold.
You can exclude canceled debt from in­
come in the following situations.
1. Debt canceled in a bankruptcy case or
when you are insolvent.
2. Qualified farm debt.
3. Qualified real property business debt (pro­
vided you are not a C corporation).
If you exclude from income canceled debt un­
der situation (1) or (2), you may have to reduce
the basis of your depreciable and nondeprecia­
ble property. However, in situation (3), you must
reduce the basis of your depreciable property
by the excluded amount.
For more information about canceled debt in
a bankruptcy case or during insolvency, see
Pub. 908, Bankruptcy Tax Guide. For more in­
formation about canceled debt that is qualified
farm debt, see chapter 3 in Pub. 225. For more
information about qualified real property busi­
ness debt, see chapter 5 in Pub. 334, Tax
Guide for Small Business.

Page 6

Adoption Tax Benefits
If you claim an adoption credit for the cost of im­
provements you added to the basis of your
home, decrease the basis of your home by the
credit allowed. This also applies to amounts you
received under an employer's adoption assis­
tance program and excluded from income. For
more information see Form 8839, Qualified
Adoption Expenses.

Employer-Provided Child Care
If you are an employer, you can claim the em­
ployer­provided child care credit on amounts
you paid or incurred to acquire, construct, reha­
bilitate, or expand property used as part of your
qualified child care facility. You must reduce
your basis in that property by the credit claimed.
For more information, see Form 8882, Credit for
Employer­Provided Child Care Facilities and

Adjustments to Basis
In January 2011 you paid $80,000 for real prop­
erty to be used as a factory. You also paid com­
missions of $2,000 and title search and legal
fees of $600. You allocated the total cost of
$82,600 between the land and the build­
ing—$10,325 for the land and $72,275 for the
building. Immediately you spent $20,000 in re­
modeling the building before you placed it in
service. You were allowed depreciation of
$14,526 for the years 2011 through 2015. In
2014 you had a $5,000 casualty loss from a
storm that was not covered by insurance on the
building. You claimed a deduction for this loss.
You spent $5,500 to repair the damages and
extend the useful life of the building. The adjus­
ted basis of the building on January 1, 2016, is
figured as follows:
Original cost of building including fees and
commissions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Adjustments to basis:
Improvements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Repair of damages . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Depreciation . . . .
Deducted casualty
loss . . . . . . . . . .



. . . . . .


. . . . . .

Adjusted basis on January 1, 2016

. . . .


The basis of the land, $10,325, remains un­
changed. It is not affected by any of the above

Basis Other Than Cost
There are many times when you cannot use
cost as basis. In these cases, the fair market
value or the adjusted basis of property may be
used. Adjusted basis is discussed earlier.
Fair market value (FMV). FMV is the price at
which property would change hands between a
buyer and a seller, neither having to buy or sell,
and both having reasonable knowledge of all
necessary facts. Sales of similar property on or
about the same date may be helpful in figuring
the property's FMV.

Property Received
for Services
If you receive property for services, include the
property's FMV in income. The amount you in­
clude in income becomes your basis. If the
services were performed for a price agreed on
beforehand, it will be accepted as the FMV of
the property if there is no evidence to the con­

Bargain Purchases
A bargain purchase is a purchase of an item for
less than its FMV. If, as compensation for serv­
ices, you purchase goods or other property at
less than FMV, include the difference between
the purchase price and the property's FMV in
your income. Your basis in the property is its
FMV (your purchase price plus the amount you
include in income).
If the difference between your purchase
price and the FMV represents a qualified em­
ployee discount, do not include the difference in
income. However, your basis in the property is
still its FMV. See Employee Discounts in Pub.

Restricted Property
If you receive property for your services and the
property is subject to certain restrictions, your
basis in the property is its FMV when it be­
comes substantially vested unless you make
the election discussed later. Property becomes
substantially vested when your rights in the
property or the rights of any person to whom
you transfer the property are not subject to a
substantial risk of forfeiture.
There is substantial risk of forfeiture when
the rights to full enjoyment of the property de­
pend on the future performance of substantial
services by any person.
When the property becomes substantially
vested, include the FMV, less any amount you
paid for the property, in income.
Example. Your employer gives you stock
for services performed under the condition that
you will have to return the stock unless you
complete 5 years of service. The stock is under
a substantial risk of forfeiture and is not sub­
stantially vested when you receive it. You do
Publication 551 (December 2016)

not report any income until you have completed
the 5 years of service that satisfy the condition.
Fair market value. Figure the FMV of property
you received without considering any restriction
except one that by its terms will never end.
Example. You received stock from your
employer for services you performed. If you
want to sell the stock while you are still em­
ployed, you must sell the stock to your em­
ployer at book value. At your retirement or
death, you or your estate must offer to sell the
stock to your employer at its book value. This is
a restriction that by its terms will never end and
you must consider it when you figure the FMV.
Election. You can choose to include in your
gross income the FMV of the property at the
time of transfer, less any amount you paid for it.
If you make this choice, the substantially vested
rules do not apply. Your basis is the amount you
paid plus the amount you included in income.
See the discussion of Restricted Property in
Pub. 525 for more information.

Taxable Exchanges
A taxable exchange is one in which the gain is
taxable or the loss is deductible. A taxable gain
or deductible loss is also known as a recog­
nized gain or loss. If you receive property in ex­
change for other property in a taxable ex­
change, the basis of property you receive is
usually its FMV at the time of the exchange. A
taxable exchange occurs when you receive
cash or property not similar or related in use to
the property exchanged.
Example. You trade a tract of farm land
with an adjusted basis of $3,000 for a tractor
that has an FMV of $6,000. You must report a
taxable gain of $3,000 for the land. The tractor
has a basis of $6,000.

Involuntary Conversions
If you receive property as a result of an involun­
tary conversion, such as a casualty, theft, or
condemnation, you can figure the basis of the
replacement property you receive using the ba­
sis of the converted property.
Similar or related property. If you receive re­
placement property similar or related in service
or use to the converted property, the replace­
ment property's basis is the old property's basis
on the date of the conversion. However, make
the following adjustments.
1. Decrease the basis by the following.
a. Any loss you recognize on the conver­
sion, and
b. Any money you receive that you do
not spend on similar property.
2. Increase the basis by the following.
a. Any gain you recognize on the con­
version, and
b. Any cost of acquiring the replacement

Publication 551 (December 2016)

Money or property not similar or related. If
you receive money or property not similar or re­
lated in service or use to the converted prop­
erty, and you buy replacement property similar
or related in service or use to the converted
property, the basis of the new property is its
cost decreased by the gain not recognized on
the conversion.
Example. The state condemned your prop­
erty. The property had an adjusted basis of
$26,000 and the state paid you $31,000 for it.
You realized a gain of $5,000 ($31,000 −
$26,000). You bought replacement property
similar in use to the converted property for
$29,000. You recognize a gain of $2,000
($31,000 − $29,000), the unspent part of the
payment from the state. Your gain not recog­
nized is $3,000, the difference between the
$5,000 realized gain and the $2,000 recognized
gain. The basis of the new property is figured as
Cost of replacement property
Minus: Gain not recognized .


. . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . .

Basis of the replacement property


Allocating the basis. If you buy more than
one piece of replacement property, allocate
your basis among the properties based on their
respective costs.
Example. The state in the previous exam­
ple condemned your unimproved real property
and the replacement property you bought was
improved real property with both land and build­
ings. Allocate the replacement property's
$26,000 basis between land and buildings
based on their respective costs.
More information. For more information about
condemnations, see Involuntary Conversions in
Pub. 544. For more information about casualty
and theft losses, see Pub. 547.

Nontaxable Exchanges
Terms you may need to know
(see Glossary):
Intangible property
Like­kind property
Personal property
Real property
Tangible property

A nontaxable exchange is an exchange in
which you are not taxed on any gain and you
cannot deduct any loss. If you receive property
in a nontaxable exchange, its basis is usually
the same as the basis of the property you trans­
ferred. A nontaxable gain or loss is also known
as an unrecognized gain or loss.

Like-Kind Exchanges
The exchange of property for the same kind of
property is the most common type of nontaxa­
ble exchange.

To qualify as a like­kind exchange, you must
hold for business or investment purposes both
the property you transfer and the property you
receive. There must also be an exchange of
like­kind property. For more information, see
Like­Kind Exchanges in Pub. 544.
The basis of the property you receive is the
same as the basis of the property you gave up.
Example. You exchange real estate (adjus­
ted basis $50,000, FMV $80,000) held for in­
vestment for other real estate (FMV $80,000)
held for investment. Your basis in the new prop­
erty is the same as the basis of the old
Exchange expenses. Exchange expenses
are generally the closing costs you pay. They
include such items as brokerage commissions,
attorney fees, deed preparation fees, etc. Add
them to the basis of the like­kind property re­
Property plus cash. If you trade property in a
like­kind exchange and also pay money, the ba­
sis of the property received is the basis of the
property you gave up increased by the money
you paid.
Example. You trade in a truck (adjusted ba­
sis $3,000) for another truck (FMV $7,500) and
pay $4,000. Your basis in the new truck is
$7,000 (the $3,000 basis of the old truck plus
the $4,000 paid).
Special rules for related persons. If a
like­kind exchange takes place directly or indi­
rectly between related persons and either party
disposes of the property within 2 years after the
exchange, the exchange no longer qualifies for
like­kind exchange treatment. Each person
must report any gain or loss not recognized on
the original exchange. Each person reports it on
the tax return filed for the year in which the later
disposition occurs. If this rule applies, the basis
of the property received in the original ex­
change will be its fair market value.
These rules generally do not apply to the fol­
lowing kinds of property dispositions.
Dispositions due to the death of either rela­
ted person,
Involuntary conversions, and
Dispositions in which neither the original
exchange nor the subsequent disposition
had as a main purpose the avoidance of
federal income tax.
Related persons. Generally, related per­
sons are ancestors, lineal descendants, broth­
ers and sisters (whole or half), and a spouse.
For other related persons (for example, two
corporations, an individual and a corporation, a
grantor and fiduciary, etc.), see Nondeductible
Loss in chapter 2 of Pub. 544.
Exchange of business property. Exchanging
the assets of one business for the assets of an­
other business is a multiple property exchange.
For information on figuring basis, see Multiple
Property Exchanges in chapter 1 of Pub. 544.

Page 7

Partially Nontaxable Exchange
A partially nontaxable exchange is an exchange
in which you receive unlike property or money
in addition to like property. The basis of the
property you receive is the same as the basis of
the property you gave up, with the following ad­
1. Decrease the basis by the following
a. Any money you receive, and
b. Any loss you recognize on the ex­
2. Increase the basis by the following
a. Any additional costs you incur, and
b. Any gain you recognize on the ex­
If the other party to the exchange assumes
your liabilities, treat the debt assumption as
money you received in the exchange.
Example. You traded a truck (adjusted ba­
sis $6,000) for a new truck (FMV $5,200) and
$1,000 cash. You realized a gain of $200
($6,200 − $6,000). This is the FMV of the truck
received plus the cash minus the adjusted basis
of the truck you traded ($5,200 + $1,000 –
$6,000). You include all the gain in income (rec­
ognized gain) because the gain is less than the
cash received. Your basis in the new truck is:
Adjusted basis of old truck . . . . . . . . .
Minus: Cash received (adjustment 1(a))

. . . .


. . . .


. . . . . . . . . . . . .


Plus: Gain recognized (adjustment 2(b))
Basis of new truck

. . . .

Allocation of basis. Allocate the basis first to
the unlike property, other than money, up to its
FMV on the date of the exchange. The rest is
the basis of the like property.
Example. You had an adjusted basis of
$15,000 in real estate you held for investment.
You exchanged it for other real estate to be held
for investment with an FMV of $12,500, a truck
with an FMV of $3,000, and $1,000 cash. The
truck is unlike property. You realized a gain of
$1,500 ($16,500 − $15,000). This is the FMV of
the real estate received plus the FMV of the
truck received plus the cash minus the adjus­
ted basis of the real estate you traded ($12,500
+ $3,000 + $1,000 – $15,000). You include in
income (recognize) all $1,500 of the gain be­
cause it is less than the FMV of the unlike prop­
erty plus the cash received. Your basis in the
properties you received is figured as follows.
Adjusted basis of real estate transferred
Minus: Cash received (adjustment 1(a))

. . .


Plus: Gain recognized (adjustment 2(b))

. . .


Total basis of properties received

. . .


Allocate the total basis of $15,500 first to the
unlike property — the truck ($3,000). This is the
Page 8

truck's FMV. The rest ($12,500) is the basis of
the real estate.

For information on figuring your basis for de­
preciation, see Pub. 463.

Sale and Purchase

Property Transferred
From a Spouse

If you sell property and buy similar property in
two mutually dependent transactions, you may
have to treat the sale and purchase as a single
nontaxable exchange.
Example. You are a salesperson and you
use one of your cars 100% for business. You
have used this car in your sales activities for 2
years and have depreciated it. Your adjusted
basis in the car is $22,600 and its FMV is
$23,100. You are interested in a new car, which
sells for $28,000. If you trade your old car and
pay $4,900 for the new one, your basis for de­
preciation for the new car would be $27,500
($4,900 plus the $22,600 basis of your old car).
However, you want a higher basis for depreciat­
ing the new car, so you agree to pay the dealer
$28,000 for the new car if he will pay you
$23,100 for your old car. Because the two
transactions are dependent on each other, you
are treated as having exchanged your old car
for the new one and paid $4,900 ($28,000 −
$23,100). Your basis for depreciating the new
car is $27,500, the same as if you traded the old

Partial Business Use of Property
If you have property used partly for business
and partly for personal use, and you exchange
it in a nontaxable exchange for property to be
used wholly or partly in your business, the basis
of the property you receive is figured separately
for the business and nonbusiness use parts.
The part of the property used for business is an
exchange of like­kind property. The per­
sonal­use part of the property is property on
which gain is recognized and loss is not recog­
Figure the adjusted basis of each part of the
property by taking into account any adjustments
to basis. Deduct the depreciation you took or
could have taken from the adjusted basis of the
business part. Then figure the amount realized
for your property and allocate it to the business
and nonbusiness parts of the property.
You are deemed to have received, in ex­
change for the nonbusiness part, an amount
equal to its FMV on the date of the exchange.
The basis of the property you acquired is the to­
tal basis of the property transferred (adjusted to
the date of the exchange), increased by any
gain recognized on the nonbusiness part.
If the nonbusiness part of the property

The basis of property transferred to you or
transferred in trust for your benefit by your
spouse (or former spouse if the transfer is inci­
dent to divorce) is the same as your spouse's
adjusted basis. However, adjust your basis for
any gain recognized by your spouse or former
spouse on property transferred in trust. This
rule applies only to a transfer of property in trust
in which the liabilities assumed, plus the liabili­
ties to which the property is subject, are more
than the adjusted basis of the property transfer­
If the property transferred to you is a series
E, series EE, or series I United States savings
bond, the transferor must include in income the
interest accrued to the date of transfer. Your ba­
sis in the bond immediately after the transfer is
equal to the transferor's basis increased by the
interest income includible in the transferor's in­
come. For more information on these bonds,
see Pub. 550.
At the time of the transfer, the transferor
must give you the records necessary to deter­
mine the adjusted basis and holding period of
the property as of the date of transfer.
For more information, see Pub. 504, Di­
vorced or Separated Individuals.

Received as a Gift
To figure the basis of property you receive as a
gift, you must know its adjusted basis (defined
earlier) to the donor just before it was given to
you, its FMV at the time it was given to you, and
any gift tax paid on it.

FMV Less Than
Donor's Adjusted Basis
If the FMV of the property at the time of the gift
is less than the donor's adjusted basis, your ba­
sis depends on whether you have a gain or a
loss when you dispose of the property. Your ba­
sis for figuring gain is the same as the donor's
adjusted basis plus or minus any required ad­
justment to basis while you held the property.
Your basis for figuring loss is its FMV when you
received the gift plus or minus any required ad­
justment to basis while you held the property
(see Adjusted Basis earlier).

TIP transferred is your main home, you

may qualify to exclude from income all
or part of the gain on that part. For more infor­
mation, see Pub. 523.

If you use the donor's adjusted basis for fig­
uring a gain and get a loss, and then use the
FMV for figuring a loss and have a gain, you
have neither gain nor loss on the sale or dispo­
sition of the property.

Trade of car used partly in business. If you
trade in a car you used partly in your business
for another car you will use in your business,
your basis for depreciation of the new car is not
the same as your basis for figuring a gain or
loss on its sale.

Example. You received an acre of land as
a gift. At the time of the gift, the land had an
FMV of $8,000. The donor's adjusted basis was
$10,000. After you received the land, no events
occurred to increase or decrease your basis. If
you sell the land for $12,000, you will have a
Publication 551 (December 2016)

$2,000 gain because you must use the donor's
adjusted basis ($10,000) at the time of the gift
as your basis to figure gain. If you sell the land
for $7,000, you will have a $1,000 loss because
you must use the FMV ($8,000) at the time of
the gift as your basis to figure a loss.
If the sales price is between $8,000 and
$10,000, you have neither gain nor loss. For in­
stance, if the sales price was $9,000 and you
tried to figure a gain using the donor's adjusted
basis ($10,000), you would get a $1,000 loss. If
you then tried to figure a loss using the FMV
($8,000), you would get a $1,000 gain.

Example. In 2016, you received a gift of
property from your mother that had an FMV of
$50,000. Her adjusted basis was $20,000. The
amount of the gift for gift tax purposes was
$36,000 ($50,000 minus the $14,000 annual
exclusion). She paid a gift tax of $7,320. Your
basis, $26,075, is figured as follows:
Fair market value . . .
Minus: Adjusted basis
Net increase in value

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Gift tax paid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Multiplied by ($30,000 ÷ $36,000)

. . . . . .
. . . . . .

Gift tax due to net increase in value . .
Adjusted basis of property to your
mother . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Your basis in the property . . . . .

. . .


Business property. If you hold the gift as
business property, your basis for figuring any
depreciation, depletion, or amortization deduc­
tion is the same as the donor's adjusted basis
plus or minus any required adjustments to basis
while you hold the property.

Inherited Property

FMV Equal to or More Than
Donor's Adjusted Basis

The basis of property inherited from a decedent
is generally one of the following.

If the FMV of the property is equal to or greater
than the donor's adjusted basis, your basis is
the donor's adjusted basis at the time you re­
ceived the gift. Increase your basis by all or part
of any gift tax paid, depending on the date of
the gift.
Also, for figuring gain or loss from a sale or
other disposition of the property, or for figuring
depreciation, depletion, or amortization deduc­
tions on business property, you must increase
or decrease your basis by any required adjust­
ments to basis while you held the property. See
Adjusted Basis earlier.
Gift received before 1977. If you received a
gift before 1977, increase your basis in the gift
(the donor's adjusted basis) by any gift tax paid
on it. However, do not increase your basis
above the FMV of the gift at the time it was
given to you.
Example 1. You were given a house in
1976 with an FMV of $21,000. The donor's ad­
justed basis was $20,000. The donor paid a gift
tax of $500. Your basis is $20,500, the donor's
adjusted basis plus the gift tax paid.
Example 2. If, in Example 1, the gift tax
paid had been $1,500, your basis would be
$21,000. This is the donor's adjusted basis plus
the gift tax paid, limited to the FMV of the house
at the time you received the gift.
Gift received after 1976. If you received a gift
after 1976, increase your basis in the gift (the
donor's adjusted basis) by the part of the gift tax
paid on it that is due to the net increase in value
of the gift. Figure the increase by multiplying the
gift tax paid by a fraction. The numerator of the
fraction is the net increase in value of the gift
and the denominator is the amount of the gift.
The net increase in value of the gift is the
FMV of the gift less the donor's adjusted basis.
The amount of the gift is its value for gift tax pur­
poses after reduction by any annual exclusion
and marital or charitable deduction that applies
to the gift. For information on the gift tax, see
Pub. 559, Survivors, Executors, and Adminis­
Publication 551 (December 2016)

. . .
. .


1. The FMV of the property at the date of the
individual's death.
2. The FMV on the alternate valuation date if
the personal representative for the estate
chooses to use alternate valuation. For in­
formation on the alternate valuation date,
see the Instructions for Form 706.
3. The value under the special­use valuation
method for real property used in farming or
a closely held business if chosen for es­
tate tax purposes. This method is dis­
cussed later.
4. The decedent's adjusted basis in land to
the extent of the value excluded from the
decedent's taxable estate as a qualified
conservation easement. For information
on a qualified conservation easement, see
the Instructions for Form 706.
If a federal estate tax return does not have
to be filed, your basis in the inherited property is
its appraised value at the date of death for state
inheritance or transmission taxes.
For more information, see the Instructions
for Form 706.
Appreciated property. The above rule does
not apply to appreciated property you receive
from a decedent if you or your spouse originally
gave the property to the decedent within 1 year
before the decedent's death. Your basis in this
property is the same as the decedent's adjusted
basis in the property immediately before his or
her death, rather than its FMV. Appreciated
property is any property whose FMV on the day
it was given to the decedent is more than its ad­
justed basis.

Community Property
In community property states (Arizona, Califor­
nia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico,
Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin), married
individuals are each usually considered to own
half the community property. When either
spouse dies, the total value of the community
property, even the part belonging to the surviv­
ing spouse, generally becomes the basis of the
entire property. For this rule to apply, at least

half the value of the community property inter­
est must be includable in the decedent's gross
estate, whether or not the estate must file a re­
For example, you and your spouse owned
community property that had a basis of
$80,000. When your spouse died, half the FMV
of the community interest was includable in your
spouse's estate. The FMV of the community in­
terest was $100,000. The basis of your half of
the property after the death of your spouse is
$50,000 (half of the $100,000 FMV). The basis
of the other half to your spouse's heirs is also
For more information on community prop­
erty, see Pub. 555, Community Property.

Property Held by Surviving Tenant
The following example explains the rule for the
basis of property held by a surviving tenant in
joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety.
Example. John and Jim owned, as joint
tenants with right of survivorship, business
property they purchased for $30,000. John fur­
nished two­thirds of the purchase price and Jim
furnished one­third. Depreciation deductions al­
lowed before John's death were $12,000. Un­
der local law, each had a half interest in the in­
come from the property. At the date of John's
death, the property had an FMV of $60,000,
two­thirds of which is includable in John's es­
tate. Jim figures his basis in the property at the
date of John's death as follows:
Interest Jim bought with his
own funds—1 3 of $30,000
cost . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $10,000
Interest Jim received on John's
death—2 3 of $60,000
FMV . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40,000
Minus: 1 2 of $12,000 depreciation before
John's death . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Jim's basis at the date of John's
death . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. .


If Jim had not contributed any part of the pur­
chase price, his basis at the date of John's
death would be $54,000. This is figured by sub­
tracting from the $60,000 FMV, the $6,000 de­
preciation allocated to Jim's half interest before
the date of death.
If under local law Jim had no interest in the
income from the property and he contributed no
part of the purchase price, his basis at John's
death would be $60,000, the FMV of the prop­

Qualified Joint Interest
Include one­half of the value of a qualified joint
interest in the decedent's gross estate. It does
not matter how much each spouse contributed
to the purchase price. Also, it does not matter
which spouse dies first.
A qualified joint interest is any interest in
property held by married individuals as either of
the following.
Tenants by the entirety, or
Page 9

Joint tenants with right of survivorship if the
married couple are the only joint tenants.
Basis. As the surviving spouse, your basis in
property you owned with your spouse as a
qualified joint interest is the cost of your half of
the property with certain adjustments. Decrease
the cost by any deductions allowed to you for
depreciation and depletion. Increase the re­
duced cost by your basis in the half you inheri­

Farm or Closely Held Business
Under certain conditions, when a person dies
the executor or personal representative of that
person's estate can choose to value the quali­
fied real property on other than its FMV. If so,
the executor or personal representative values
the qualified real property based on its use as a
farm or its use in a closely held business. If the
executor or personal representative chooses
this method of valuation for estate tax purposes,
that value is the basis of the property for the
heirs. Qualified heirs should be able to get the
necessary value from the executor or personal
representative of the estate.
Special-use valuation. If you are a qualified
heir who received special­use valuation prop­
erty, your basis in the property is the estate's or
trust's basis in that property immediately before
the distribution. Increase your basis by any gain
recognized by the estate or trust because of
post­death appreciation. Post­death apprecia­
tion is the property's FMV on the date of distri­
bution minus the property's FMV either on the
date of the individual's death or the alternate
valuation date. Figure all FMVs without regard
to the special­use valuation.
You can elect to increase your basis in spe­
cial­use valuation property if it becomes subject
to the additional estate tax. This tax is assessed
if, within 10 years after the death of the dece­
dent, you transfer the property to a person who
is not a member of your family or the property
stops being used as a farm or in a closely held
To increase your basis in the property, you
must make an irrevocable election and pay in­
terest on the additional estate tax figured from
the date 9 months after the decedent's death
until the date of the payment of the additional
estate tax. If you meet these requirements, in­
crease your basis in the property to its FMV on
the date of the decedent's death or the alternate
valuation date. The increase in your basis is
considered to have occurred immediately be­
fore the event that results in the additional es­
tate tax.
You make the election by filing with Form
706­A a statement that does all of the following.
Contains your name, address, and tax­
payer identification number and those of
the estate;
Identifies the election as an election under
section 1016(c) of the Internal Revenue
Specifies the property for which the elec­
tion is made; and
Provides any additional information re­
quired by the Instructions for Form 706­A.

Page 10

For more information, see the Instructions
for Form 706 and the Instructions for Form

Property Changed to
Business or Rental Use
If you hold property for personal use and then
change it to business use or use it to produce
rent, you must figure its basis for depreciation.
An example of changing property held for per­
sonal use to business use would be renting out
your former main home.
Basis for depreciation. The basis for depreci­
ation is the lesser of the following amounts.
The FMV of the property on the date of the
change, or
Your adjusted basis on the date of the
Example. Several years ago you paid
$160,000 to have your home built on a lot that
cost $25,000. You paid $20,000 for permanent
improvements to the house and claimed a
$2,000 casualty loss deduction for damage to
the house before changing the property to
rental use last year. Because land is not depre­
ciable, you include only the cost of the house
when figuring the basis for depreciation.
Your adjusted basis in the house when you
changed its use was $178,000 ($160,000 +
$20,000 − $2,000). On the same date, your
property had an FMV of $180,000, of which
$15,000 was for the land and $165,000 was for
the house. The basis for figuring depreciation
on the house is its FMV on the date of change
($165,000) because it is less than your adjusted
basis ($178,000).

How To Get Tax Help
If you have questions about a tax issue, need
help preparing your tax return, or want to down­
load free publications, forms, or instructions, go
to and find resources that can help you
right away.
Preparing and filing your tax return. Find
free options to prepare and file your return on or in your local community if you qual­
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
(VITA) program offers free tax help to people
who generally make $54,000 or less, persons
with disabilities, the elderly, and limited­Eng­
lish­speaking taxpayers who need help prepar­
ing their own tax returns. The Tax Counseling
for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax
help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are
60 years of age and older. TCE volunteers spe­
cialize in answering questions about pensions
and retirement­related issues unique to seniors.
You can go to and click on the Fil­
ing tab to see your options for preparing and fil­
ing your return which include the following.
Free File. Go to See if
you qualify to use brand­name software to
prepare and e­file your federal tax return
for free.
VITA. Go to, download the
free IRS2Go app, or call 1­800­906­9887
to find the nearest VITA location for free
tax preparation.
TCE. Go to, download the free
IRS2Go app, or call 1­888­227­7669 to
find the nearest TCE location for free tax

Sale of property. If you later sell or dispose of
property changed to business or rental use, the
basis of the property you use will depend on
whether you are figuring gain or loss.

Getting answers to your tax law
questions. On get answers to
your tax questions anytime, anywhere.

Gain. The basis for figuring a gain is your
adjusted basis when you sell the property.

Go to or
pages for a variety of tools that will help
you get answers to some of the most com­
mon tax questions.
Go to for the Interactive Tax
Assistant, a tool that will ask you questions
on a number of tax law topics and provide
answers. You can print the entire interview
and the final response for your records.
Go to to get Pub. 17, Your
Federal Income Tax for Individuals, which
features details on tax­saving opportuni­
ties, 2016 tax changes, and thousands of
interactive links to help you find answers to
your questions. View it online in HTML or
as a PDF or, better yet, download it to your
mobile device to enjoy eBook features.
You may also be able to access tax law in­
formation in your electronic filing software.

Example. Assume the same facts as in the
previous example except that you sell the prop­
erty at a gain after being allowed depreciation
deductions of $37,500. Your adjusted basis for
figuring gain is $165,500 ($178,000 + $25,000
(land) − $37,500).
Loss. Figure the basis for a loss starting
with the smaller of your adjusted basis or the
FMV of the property at the time of the change to
business or rental use. Then adjust this amount
for the period after the change in the property's
use, as discussed earlier under Adjusted Basis,
to arrive at a basis for loss.
Example. Assume the same facts as in the
previous example, except that you sell the prop­
erty at a loss after being allowed depreciation
deductions of $37,500. In this case, you would
start with the FMV on the date of the change to
rental use ($180,000) because it is less than the
adjusted basis of $203,000 ($178,000 +
$25,000) on that date. Reduce that amount
($180,000) by the depreciation deductions to
arrive at a basis for loss of $142,500 ($180,000
− $37,500).

Getting tax forms and publications. Go to to view, download, or print all of
the forms and publications you may need. You
can also download and view popular tax publi­
cations and instructions (including the 1040 in­
structions) on mobile devices as an eBook at no
charge. Or, you can go to

Publication 551 (December 2016)

to place an order and have forms mailed to you
within 10 business days.
Using direct deposit. The fastest way to re­
ceive a tax refund is to combine direct deposit
and IRS e­file. Direct deposit securely and elec­
tronically transfers your refund directly into your
financial account. Eight in 10 taxpayers use di­
rect deposit to receive their refund. IRS issues
more than 90% of refunds in less than 21 days.
Delayed refund for returns claiming certain
credits. Due to changes in the law, the IRS
can’t issue refunds before February 15, 2017,
for returns that claim the earned income credit
(EIC) or the additional child tax credit (ACTC).
This applies to the entire refund, not just the
portion associated with these credits.
Getting a transcript or copy of a return. The
quickest way to get a copy of your tax transcript
is to go to Click on either
"Get Transcript Online" or "Get Transcript by
Mail" to order a copy of your transcript. If you
prefer, you can:
Order your transcript by calling
Mail Form 4506­T or Form 4506T­EZ (both
available on
Using online tools to help prepare your return. Go to for the following.
The Earned Income Tax Credit Assistant
( determines if you are eligible
for the EIC.
The Online EIN Application (
helps you get an employer identification
The IRS Withholding Calculator (
w4app) estimates the amount you should
have withheld from your paycheck for fed­
eral income tax purposes.
The First Time Homebuyer Credit Account
Look­up ( tool pro­
vides information on your repayments and
account balance.
The Sales Tax Deduction Calculator
( figures the amount you
can claim if you itemize deductions on
Schedule A (Form 1040), choose not to
claim state and local income taxes, and
you didn’t save your receipts showing the
sales tax you paid.
Resolving tax-related identity theft issues.
The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with tax­
payers by email or telephone to request
personal or financial information. This in­
cludes any type of electronic communica­
tion, such as text messages and social me­
dia channels.
Go to for information
and videos.
If your SSN has been lost or stolen or you
suspect you are a victim of tax­related
identity theft, visit to learn what
steps you should take.
Checking on the status of your refund.
Go to
Due to changes in the law, the IRS can’t is­
sue refunds before February 15, 2017, for
returns that claim the EIC or the ACTC.

Publication 551 (December 2016)

This applies to the entire refund, not just
the portion associated with these credits.
Download the official IRS2Go app to your
mobile device to check your refund status.
Call the automated refund hotline at
Making a tax payment. The IRS uses the lat­
est encryption technology to ensure your elec­
tronic payments are safe and secure. You can
make electronic payments online, by phone,
and from a mobile device using the IRS2Go
app. Paying electronically is quick, easy, and
faster than mailing in a check or money order.
Go to to make a payment
using any of the following options.
IRS Direct Pay: Pay your individual tax bill
or estimated tax payment directly from
your checking or savings account at no
cost to you.
Debit or credit card: Choose an ap­
proved payment processor to pay online,
by phone, and by mobile device.
Electronic Funds Withdrawal: Offered
only when filing your federal taxes using
tax preparation software or through a tax
Electronic Federal Tax Payment System: Best option for businesses. Enroll­
ment is required.
Check or money order: Mail your pay­
ment to the address listed on the notice or
Cash: If cash is your only option, you may
be able to pay your taxes at a participating
retail store.
What if I can’t pay now? Go to
payments for more information about your op­
Apply for an online payment agreement
( to meet your tax obligation
in monthly installments if you can’t pay
your taxes in full today. Once you complete
the online process, you will receive imme­
diate notification of whether your agree­
ment has been approved.
Use the Offer in Compromise Pre­Qualifier
( to see if you can settle your
tax debt for less than the full amount you
Checking the status of an amended return.
Go to and click on Where’s My
Amended Return? ( under the
“Tools” bar to track the status of Form 1040X
amended returns. Please note that it can take
up to 3 weeks from the date you mailed your
amended return for it to show up in our system
and processing it can take up to 16 weeks.
Understanding an IRS notice or letter. Go to to find additional information
about responding to an IRS notice or letter.
Contacting your local IRS office. Keep in
mind, many questions can be resolved on without visiting an IRS Tax Assistance
Center (TAC). Go to for the
topics people ask about most. If you still need
help, IRS TACs provide tax help when a tax is­
sue can’t be handled online or by phone. All
TACs now provide service by appointment so
you’ll know in advance that you can get the

service you need without waiting. Before you
visit, go to to find the nearest
TAC, check hours, available services, and ap­
pointment options. Or, on the IRS2Go app, un­
der the Stay Connected tab, choose the Con­
tact Us option and click on “Local Offices.”
Watching IRS videos. The IRS Video portal
( contains video and audio pre­
sentations for individuals, small businesses,
and tax professionals.
Getting tax information in other languages.
For taxpayers whose native language isn’t Eng­
lish, we have the following resources available.
Taxpayers can find information on in
the following languages.
Spanish (
Chinese (
Vietnamese (
Korean (
Russian (
The IRS TACs provide over­the­phone inter­
preter service in over 170 languages, and the
service is available free to taxpayers.

The Taxpayer Advocate
Service Is Here To Help You

What is the Taxpayer Advocate

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an in­
dependent organization within the IRS that
helps taxpayers and protects taxpayer rights.
Our job is to ensure that every taxpayer is
treated fairly and that you know and understand
your rights under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

What Can the Taxpayer Advocate
Service Do For You?
We can help you resolve problems that you
can’t resolve with the IRS. And our service is
free. If you qualify for our assistance, you will be
assigned to one advocate who will work with
you throughout the process and will do every­
thing possible to resolve your issue. TAS can
help you if:
Your problem is causing financial difficulty
for you, your family, or your business,
You face (or your business is facing) an
immediate threat of adverse action, or
You’ve tried repeatedly to contact the IRS
but no one has responded, or the IRS
hasn’t responded by the date promised.

How Can You Reach Us?
We have offices in every state, the District of
Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Your local advo­
cate’s number is in your local directory and at You can also call us
at 1­877­777­4778.

How Can You Learn About Your
Taxpayer Rights?
The Taxpayer Bill of Rights describes 10 basic
rights that all taxpayers have when dealing with
Page 11

understand what these rights mean to you and
how they apply. These are your rights. Know
them. Use them.

How Else Does the Taxpayer
Advocate Service Help Taxpayers?
TAS works to resolve large­scale problems that
affect many taxpayers. If you know of one of

these broad issues, please report it to us at

Low Income Taxpayer
Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) serve in­
dividuals whose income is below a certain level

and need to resolve tax problems such as au­
dits, appeals, and tax collection disputes. Some
clinics can provide information about taxpayer
rights and responsibilities in different languages
for individuals who speak English as a second
language. To find a clinic near you, visit or see IRS Publication 4134, Low
Income Taxpayer Clinic List.

Amortization: A ratable deduction
for the cost of certain intangible
property over the period specified
by law. Examples of costs that can
be amortized are goodwill, agree­
ment not to compete, and research
and mining exploration costs.

recover your basis in property that is Intangible property: Property that
used more than one year for busi­ cannot be perceived by the senses
ness or income producing purposes. such as goodwill, patents, copy­
rights, etc.
Fair market value (FMV): FMV is
the price at which property would Like-kind property: Items of prop­
change hands between a buyer and erty with the same nature or charac­
a seller, neither having to buy or sell, ter. The grade or quality of the prop­
Business assets: Property used in and both having reasonable knowl­ erties does not matter. Examples
the conduct of a trade or business, edge of all necessary facts.
are two vacant plots of land.
such as business machinery and of­
fice furniture.
Going concern value: Going con­ Personal property: Property, such
cern value is the additional value as machinery, equipment, or furni­
Capitalization: Adding costs, such that attaches to property because ture, that is not real property.
as improvements, to the basis of as­ the property is an integral part of an
ongoing business activity. It includes Real property: Land and generally
value based on the ability of a busi­ anything erected on, growing on, or
Depletion: Yearly deduction al­ ness to continue to function and attached to land, for example, a
lowed to recover your investment in generate income even though there building.
minerals in place or standing timber. is a change in ownership.
Recapture: Amount of depreciation
To take the deduction, you must
have the right to income from the ex­ Goodwill: Goodwill is the value of a or section 179 deduction that must
traction and sale of the minerals or trade or business based on expec­ be reported as ordinary income
the cutting of the timber.
ted continued customer patronage when property is sold at a gain.

the cost of certain property pur­
chased for use in the active conduct
of a trade or business.

Page 12

Publication 551 (December 2016)

Section 197 intangibles: Certain
intangibles held in connection with
the conduct of a trade or business or
an activity entered into for profit, in­
cluding goodwill, going concern
value, patents, copyrights, formulas,
franchises, trademarks, and trade
Tangible property: This is prop­
erty that can be seen or touched,
such as furniture and buildings.
Unstated interest: The part of the
sales price treated as interest when
an installment contract provides for
little or no interest.

due to its name, reputation, or any
Depreciation: Ratable deduction other factor.
Section 179 deduction: This is a
allowed over a number of years to
special deduction allowed against


To help us develop a more useful index, please let us know if you have ideas for index entries.
See “Comments and Suggestions” in the “Introduction” for the ways you can reach us.


Adjusted basis:
Adoption tax benefits 6
Assessment for local
improvements 5
Canceled debt 6
Casualty and theft losses 5
Credit for qualified electric
vehicles 5
Decreases to 5
Depreciation 5
Easements 5
Employer­provided child care 6
Example 6
Gain from sale of home 6
Gas­guzzler tax 5
Increases to 4
Section 179 deduction 5
Subsidies for energy
conservation 5
Adoption tax benefits 6
Allocating basis 4
Assistance (See Tax help)
Assumption of mortgage 3


Business acquired 4
Business assets 3
Businesses exchanged 7


Canceled debt 6
Casualty and theft losses 5

Publication 551 (December 2016)

Change to business use 10
Community property 9
Constructing assets 3
Copyrights 4
Cost basis:
Allocating basis 4
Assumption of mortgage 3
Capitalized costs 3, 5
Loans, low or no interest 2
Real estate taxes 2
Real property 2
Settlement costs (fees) 2


Decreases to basis 5
Demolition of building 4
Depreciation 5


Easements 5
Employer-provided child care 6
Involuntary 7
Like­kind 7
Nontaxable 7
Partial business use of
property 8
Taxable 7


Fair market value 6
Franchises 4


Gain from sale of home 6
Gifts, property received 8
Group of assets acquired 4


Identity theft 11
Inherited property 9
Intangible assets 3
Involuntary exchanges 7


Land and buildings 4
Loans, low or no interest 2


Nontaxable exchanges:
Like­kind 7
Partial 8


Partially nontaxable
exchanges 8
Patents 3
Points 3
Property changed to business
use 10
Property received as a gift 8
Property received for services:
Bargain purchases 6

Fair market value 6
Restricted property 6
Property transferred from a
spouse 8
Publications (See Tax help)


Real estate taxes 2
Real property 2


Settlement costs (fees) 2
Special-use valuation 10
Spouse, property transferred
from 8
Stocks and bonds 2
Subdivided lots 4


Taxable exchanges 7
Tax help 10
Trademarks and trade names 4
Trade or business acquired 4
Trading property (see
Exchanges) 7


Uniform capitalization rules:
Activities subject to the rules 3
Exceptions 3

Page 13


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