For many investors, it can be tempting to think of one's portfolio in terms of “gains” or “losses”...and yes, that is a central concept to understanding market behavior. But if you truly want to maximize your investing knowledge, you also need to know about “unrealized gains,” “unrealized losses,” and how they can work to your advantage. As always, the following information is not intended as tax or legal advice. Any financial decision should be undertaken in consultation with your financial advisor and is not intended as tax or legal advice.
The simplicity of unrealized losses and gains. Put simply, an unrealized loss or gain is the change in market value of a stock from its purchase price. An “unrealized loss” occurs when a stock decreases after an investor buys it, but they have yet to sell it. An “unrealized gain” is when a stock increases in value, but an investor has yet to sell it. It really is as simple as that.1
When unrealized gains and losses become realized. However, things become a bit more complicated if an investor sells stock that is currently valued higher, or lower, than their purchase price. When this occurs, the “unrealized” aspect becomes realized and renamed “capital gains” or “capital losses.”2
“Capital losses” can be a good thing. Capital losses may be used to offset capital gains. If the losses exceed the gains, up to $3,000 of those losses may be used to offset the taxes on other types of income.This loss is limited to $3,000 per year, or $1,500 if married and filing a separate return. Should you have more than $3,000 in such capital losses, you may be able to carry the losses forward. You can continue to carry forward these losses until such a time that future realized gains exhaust them. Under current law, the ability to carry these losses forward is lost only on death.3
Consult a financial professional about your options.
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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.
The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.
Capital assets include property such as a home or a car. It also includes investment property, like stocks and bonds. Long and Short Term. Capital gains and losses are either long-term or short-term. It depends on how long the taxpayer holds the property. If the taxpayer holds it for one year or less, the gain or loss is short-term.
1 - irs.gov/taxtopics/tc409 [3/29/19]
2 - investopedia.com/terms/u/unrealizedgain.asp [5/2/18]
3 - irs.gov/newsroom/capital-gains-and-losses-10-helpful-facts-to-know-0