Schedule D: How To Report Your Capital Gains (Or Losses) To The IRS | Bankrate (2024)

So you’ve realized a profit on your investments? Buckle up and get ready to report your transactions to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Schedule D and see how much tax you owe.

But it’s not all bad news. If you lost money, this form helps you use those losses to offset any gains or a portion of your ordinary income, reducing the taxes you owe. And if you profited from your transactions, Schedule D helps ensure you don’t overpay Uncle Sam for your gains.

What is a Schedule D?

Schedule D is an IRS tax form that reports your realized gains and losses from capital assets, that is, investments and other business interests. It includes relevant information such as the total purchase price of assets, the total price those assets were sold for and whether those assets were held for the long term (more than a year) or short term (less than a year).

Who has to file a Schedule D?

You’ll have to file a Schedule D form if you realized any capital gains or losses from your investments in taxable accounts. That is, if you sold an asset in a taxable account, you’ll need to file. Investments include stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, options, real estate, futures, cryptocurrency and more. Those who have capital losses that they’re carrying over from previous tax years will want to file Schedule D so that they can take advantage of the tax benefit.

Others will need to file Schedule D as well. Those who have realized capital gains or losses from a partnership, estate, trust or S corporation will need to report those to the IRS on this form. Those with gains or losses not reported on another form can report them on Schedule D, as can filers with nonbusiness bad debts. Those with like-kind exchanges and installment sales may need to answer questions about their transactions on Schedule D.

How you report a gain or loss and how you’re taxed

The two-page Schedule D, with all its sections, columns and special computations, looks daunting and it certainly can be.

To start you must report any transactions first on Form 8949 and then transfer the info to Schedule D. On Form 8949 you’ll note when you bought the asset and when you sold it, as well as what it cost and what you sold it for. Your purchase and sales dates are critical because how long you hold the property determines its tax rate.

If you owned the asset for a year or less, any gain would typically cost you more in taxes. These short-term sales are taxed at the same rate as your regular income, which could be as high as 37 percent on your 2023 tax return. Short-term sales are reported in Part 1 of the form.

Schedule D: How To Report Your Capital Gains (Or Losses) To The IRS | Bankrate (1)

However, if you held the property for more than a year, it’s considered a long-term asset and is eligible for a lower capital gains tax rate — 0 percent, 15 percent or 20 percent, depending upon your income level. Sales of long-term assets are reported in Part 2 of the form, which looks nearly identical to Part 1 above.

Detail your transactions

Once you determine whether your gain or loss is short-term or long-term, it’s time to enter the transaction specifics in the appropriate section of Form 8949. All transactions require the same information, entered in either Part 1 (short term) or Part 2 (long term), in the appropriate alphabetically designated column. For most transactions, you’ll complete:

(a) The name or description of the asset you sold

(b) When you acquired it

(c) When you sold it

(d) What price you sold it for

(e) The asset’s cost or other basis

(h) The gain or loss

Total your entries on Form 8949 and then transfer the information to the appropriate short-term or long-term sections of Schedule D. On that tax schedule you’ll subtract your basis from the sales price to arrive at your total capital gain or loss, as in the sample below.

Schedule D: How To Report Your Capital Gains (Or Losses) To The IRS | Bankrate (2)

Schedule D also asks for information on some specific transactions that do not apply to all taxpayers, such as installment sales, like-kind exchanges, commodity straddles, sales of business property and gains or losses reported to you on Schedule K-1.

Check out the complete list and if any of these apply to your tax situation, it probably would be wise to turn Schedule D and the rest of your tax paperwork over to a professional. These are complicated matters, and it can be easy to make a mistake even with the best intentions.

Schedule D also requires information on any capital loss carry-over you have from earlier tax years on line 14, as well as the amount of capital gains distributions you earned on your investments.

You may be able to avoid filing Schedule D, if one of the two situations below applies to your return:

  • If distributions, line 13, are your only investment items to report, you don’t have to fill out Schedule D; they go directly on your 1040 or 1040A return.
  • You also can escape Schedule D if your only capital gain is from the sale of your residence. As long as you meet some basic residency requirements and your home-sale profit is $250,000 or less ($500,000 for married-filing-jointly home sellers), it’s not taxable and you don’t have to tell the IRS about it here or on any other form.

Total your transactions

Once you’ve filled in all the short-term and long-term transaction information in Parts 1 and 2, it’s time to turn over Schedule D and combine your asset-sale details in Part 3. This section essentially consolidates the work you did earlier, but it’s not as easy as simply transferring numbers from the front of the schedule to the back.

Lines 16 through 22 direct you to other lines and forms depending on whether your calculations result in an overall gain or loss. A couple of lines in Part 3 also deal with special rates for collectibles and depreciated real estate. Again, in these situations, expert tax advice might be warranted.

Use Schedule D to total up your gains and losses. If you total up a net capital loss, it’s not good investing news, but it is good tax news. Your loss can offset your regular income, reducing the taxes you owe – up to a net $3,000 loss limit.

If you reported a net loss greater than the annual limit, it can be carried forward to use against gains in future tax years until it’s exhausted.

As a bonus, your capital loss means you’re through with Schedule D. You simply transfer your loss amount to your 1040 and continue your filing work there.

Figure the tax on your gains

When you come up with a gain, the tax paperwork continues. And this is where the math really begins, especially if you’re doing your taxes by hand instead of using software.

Depending on your answers to the various Schedule D questions, you’re directed to the separate Qualified Dividends and Capital Gain Tax worksheet or the Schedule D Tax worksheet, which are found in the Form 1040 instructions booklet. These worksheets take you through calculations of your various types of income and figure the appropriate taxation level for each.

Before you begin either of these worksheets, be sure you’ve completed your Form 1040 through line 11 (that’s your taxable income amount), because that’s the starting point of both worksheets. From there you’ll have lots of addition, subtraction, multiplication and transferring of numbers from various forms.

But if you sold stock or other property, don’t be tempted to ignore Form 8949, Schedule D, the associated tax worksheets and all the extra calculations. Remember, the IRS received a copy of any tax statement your broker sent you, so the agency is expecting you to detail the sale, and gain or loss, with your tax filing.

Bottom line

The extra work needed in figuring your capital gains taxes is generally to your advantage. Regular income tax rates can be more than twice what’s levied on some long-term capital gains. So when you’re finally through with the calculations, your tax bill should be lower than it would have been if you had simply used the standard tax table to find your tax due.

Note: Kay Bell contributed to a previous version of this story.

Schedule D: How To Report Your Capital Gains (Or Losses) To The IRS | Bankrate (2024)


How do I report capital gains and losses to the IRS? ›

Capital gains and deductible capital losses are reported on Form 1040, Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses, and then transferred to line 13 of Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Capital gains and losses are classified as long-term or short term.

How do I report capital gains on Schedule D? ›

Capital Gain Distributions

Instead, they are included on Form 1099-DIV as ordinary divi- dends. Enter on Schedule D, line 13, the to- tal capital gain distributions paid to you during the year, regardless of how long you held your investment. This amount is shown in box 2a of Form 1099-DIV.

What is the Schedule D tax worksheet? ›

Schedule D is an IRS tax form that reports your realized gains and losses from capital assets, that is, investments and other business interests.

What is Schedule D and form 8949 Overview of capital gains and losses? ›

Use Form 8949 to reconcile amounts that were reported to you and the IRS on Form 1099-B or 1099-S (or substitute statement) with the amounts you report on your return. The subtotals from this form will then be carried over to Schedule D (Form 1040), where gain or loss will be calculated in aggregate.

What is a Schedule D for capital gains and losses? ›

Long-term gains and losses

Capital assets that you hold for more than one year and then sell are classified as long-term on Schedule D and Form 8949 if needed. The advantage to a net long-term gain is that generally these gains are taxed at a lower rate than short-term gains.

How do I enter capital losses on 1040? ›

Claim the loss on line 7 of your Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR. If your net capital loss is more than this limit, you can carry the loss forward to later years.

Can I file Schedule D without 8949? ›

Form 8949 isn't required for certain transactions. You may be able to aggregate those transactions and report them directly on either line 1a (for short-term transactions) or line 8a (for long-term transactions) of Schedule D.

What is an example of a Schedule D? ›

Schedule D Example

The stock was acquired on 1/1/23 for $3 and sold on 4/28/23 for $7, resulting in a short-term capital gain of $4. The stock was acquired on 1/1/23 for $9 and sold on 4/29/23 for $8, resulting in a short-term capital loss of $1.

What is line 16 on Schedule D? ›

Part III: Schedule D Summary

Part III is where you figure out what to report on your Form 1040. On Line 16, combine the short-term gain or loss on Line 7 with the long-term gain or loss on Line 15. If the result is a net gain (a positive number) report this amount on Line 7 of your Form 1040.

Do I have to include Schedule D on my tax return? ›

The Bottom Line

Taxpayers must file Schedule D along with IRS Form 1040 when they have capital gains or losses to report that are from investments or are the result of a business venture or partnership. Both short-term and long-term gains and losses are included.

How do you offset capital gains with losses? ›

Losses on your investments are first used to offset capital gains of the same type. So, short-term losses are first deducted against short-term gains, and long-term losses are deducted against long-term gains. Net losses of either type can then be deducted against the other kind of gain.

How did the IRS correct the error in Schedule D tax calculation worksheet? ›

The IRS corrected the Schedule D Tax Worksheet in the Instructions for Schedule D (Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) by renumbering line 18 as line 18a, adding new lines 18b and 18c, and updating the text on line 19 to reflect those changes.

What is the difference between form 8949 and Schedule D? ›

To report the sale of stocks on your taxes, you need two extra forms, Form 8949 and Schedule D. Essentially, Form 8949 is the detailed information behind the numbers you enter on Schedule D. Form 8949 is filled out first.

Should I use form 8949 or 4797? ›

Trade or Business

Generally, the gain is reported on Form 8949 and Schedule D. However, part of the gain on the sale or exchange of the depreciable property may have to be recaptured as ordinary income on Form 4797. Use Part III of Form 4797 to figure the amount of ordinary income recapture.

What is taxable capital gains or losses? ›

A capital gain or loss is generally the difference between the proceeds of sale, net of expenses, and the cost of the property. The taxable capital gain is 50% of the gain and the allowable capital loss is 50% of the loss. Allowable capital losses can only be deducted from taxable capital gains.

How much capital gains loss can I claim on taxes? ›

What happens if your losses exceed your gains? The IRS will let you deduct up to $3,000 of capital losses (or up to $1,500 if you and your spouse are filing separate tax returns). If you have any leftover losses, you can carry the amount forward and claim it on a future tax return.

Do capital gains losses need to be reported? ›

You must report all 1099-B transactions on Schedule D (Form 1040), Capital Gains and Losses and you may need to use Form 8949, Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets. This is true even if there's no net capital gain subject to tax.

Can I offset all my capital gains with capital losses? ›

Yes, but there are limits. Losses on your investments are first used to offset capital gains of the same type. So, short-term losses are first deducted against short-term gains, and long-term losses are deducted against long-term gains. Net losses of either type can then be deducted against the other kind of gain.

Can you offset capital gains losses against income tax? ›

Losses made from the sale of capital assets are not allowed to be offset against income, other than in very specific circ*mstances (broadly if you have disposed of qualifying trading company shares). You cannot claim a loss made on the disposal of an asset that is exempt from capital gains tax (CGT).


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