Reporting Stock Transactions Becomes More Complicated

March 27th, 2012

Beginning with the 2011 tax return, reporting stock transactions has become significantly more complicated because of the new requirement for brokerage firms to track the purchase price of stocks acquired in 2011 and subsequent years and to include that information on the information-reporting document 1099-B.

For several years now, the IRS has required brokerage firms to report the gross proceeds from the sale of stocks and other securities on the Form 1099-B. But just knowing the proceeds from a security sale does not allow the IRS to verify the profit or loss reported by the taxpayer. So beginning with 2011 purchase transactions, brokers are required to track the price paid for the securities and include that information on the 1099-B when that particular security is subsequently sold.

This new system of reporting is not a solve-all solution for the IRS because it does not have the cost or basis information for securities acquired prior to 2011 or for securities acquired by gift or inheritance. Special adjustments are required for wash sales and when sales can be attributed to a prior purchase of the same security. Some brokers also may report on Form 1099-B the cost information, if known, for stocks purchased prior to 2011.

So that the IRS can use the new data to verify taxpayer profit or loss transactions attributable to purchases where the cost information is included on the 1099-B, the year’s transactions must now be broken down into six categories (the last two categories listed do not apply to stock transactions but may apply to sales of other capital assets):

  • Long-term sales where the broker IS reporting the cost of the security
  • Short-term sales where the broker IS reporting the cost of the security
  • Long-term sales where the broker IS NOT reporting the cost of the security
  • Short-term sales where the broker IS NOT reporting the cost of the security
  • Long-term sales for which no 1099-B is issued
  • Short-term sales for which no 1099-B is issued

To accommodate separating the transaction into the six categories, the IRS has provided a new Form 8949. A separate 8949 must be used for each category. This will allow the IRS to match and verify transactions where the brokerage firm supplied the cost basis.

Now that the IRS has profit or loss matching capabilities, it is important to correctly report the transactions as the IRS expects to see them. Failure to do so could lead to correspondence audits or even face-to-face audits.

Schedule an appointment with us if you have questions relating to reporting your security sales this year, so that we can ensure accurate reporting.

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