Adjusted basis

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In tax accounting, adjusted basis is the net cost of an asset after adjusting for various tax-related items.

Adjusted Basis or Adjusted Tax Basis refers to the original cost or other basis of property, reduced by depreciation deductions and increased by capital expenditures.

Example: Brad buys a lot for $100,000. He then erects a retail facility for $600,000, then depreciates the improvements for tax purposes at the rate of $15,000 per year. After three years his adjusted tax basis is $655,000 [$100,000 + $600,000 - (3 x $15,000)].

Adjusted basis is one of two variables in the formula used to compute gains and losses when determining gross income for tax purposes. The Amount Realized – Adjusted Basis tells the amount of Realized Gain (if positive) or Realized Loss (if negative).

Statutory definition[edit]

Section 1012 of the Internal Revenue Code defines “basis” as a taxpayer’s cost in acquiring property, except as provided in Sections 1001-1092. Section 1016 then lists 27 adjustments to this basis. Generally, improvements to property increase basis while depreciation deductions decrease it.

Calculation[edit]

Adjusted basis is calculated by beginning with an asset's original cost basis, and then making adjustments. Adjusted basis is calculated as follows:

  • Purchase costs (title & escrow fees, broker commissions, shipping, sales tax, etc.)
  • Improvements (rehabilitation expenses & substantial repairs)
  • Legal fees (to defend or to perfect title to the property, zoning costs, etc.)
  • Selling costs (title & escrow fees, broker commissions, shipping, transfer fees, etc.)

Minus the costs represented by:

Adjusted basis[edit]

Adjusted basis is crucial for calculating capital gains and ordinary gains when an asset is sold.

A complete list of adjustments which increase or decrease basis is found in IRS Publication 551, Basis of Assets.

References[edit]