Section 1233: Gains and losses from short sales
Internal Revenue Code
Table of Contents
This Code Section:
§1233. Gains and losses from short sales
(a) Capital assets
For purposes of this subtitle, gain or loss from the short sale of property shall be considered as gain or loss from the sale or exchange of a capital asset to the extent that the property, including a commodity future, used to close the short sale constitutes a capital asset in the hands of the taxpayer.
(b) Short-term gains and holding periods
If gain or loss from a short sale is considered as gain or loss from the sale or exchange of a capital asset under subsection (a) and if on the date of such short sale substantially identical property has been held by the taxpayer for not more than 1 year (determined without regard to the effect, under paragraph (2) of this subsection, of such short sale on the holding period), or if substantially identical property is acquired by the taxpayer after such short sale and on or before the date of the closing thereof—
(1) any gain on the closing of such short sale shall be considered as a gain on the sale or exchange of a capital asset held for not more than 1 year (notwithstanding the period of time any property used to close such short sale has been held); and
(2) the holding period of such substantially identical property shall be considered to begin (notwithstanding section 1223, relating to the holding period of property) on the date of the closing of the short sale, or on the date of a sale, gift, or other disposition of such property, whichever date occurs first. This paragraph shall apply to such substantially identical property in the order of the dates of the acquisition of such property, but only to so much of such property as does not exceed the quantity sold short.
For purposes of this subsection, the acquisition of an option to sell property at a fixed price shall be considered as a short sale, and the exercise or failure to exercise such option shall be considered as a closing of such short sale.
(c) Certain options to sell
Subsection (b) shall not include an option to sell property at a fixed price acquired on the same day on which the property identified as intended to be used in exercising such option is acquired and which, if exercised, is exercised through the sale of the property so identified. If the option is not exercised, the cost of the option shall be added to the basis of the property with which the option is identified. This subsection shall apply only to options acquired after August 16, 1954.
(d) Long-term losses
If on the date of such short sale substantially identical property has been held by the taxpayer for more than 1 year, any loss on the closing of such short sale shall be considered as a loss on the sale or exchange of a capital asset held for more than 1 year (notwithstanding the period of time any property used to close such short sale has been held, and notwithstanding section 1234).
(1) Subsection (b)(1) or (d) shall not apply to the gain or loss, respectively, on any quantity of property used to close such short sale which is in excess of the quantity of the substantially identical property referred to in the applicable subsection.
(A) the term "property" includes only stocks and securities (including stocks and securities dealt with on a "when issued" basis), and commodity futures, which are capital assets in the hands of the taxpayer, but does not include any position to which section 1092(b) applies;
(B) in the case of futures transactions in any commodity on or subject to the rules of a board of trade or commodity exchange, a commodity future requiring delivery in 1 calendar month shall not be considered as property substantially identical to another commodity future requiring delivery in a different calendar month;
(C) in the case of a short sale of property by an individual, the term "taxpayer", in the application of this subsection and subsections (b) and (d), shall be read as "taxpayer or his spouse"; but an individual who is legally separated from the taxpayer under a decree of divorce or of separate maintenance shall not be considered as the spouse of the taxpayer;
(D) a securities futures contract (as defined in section 1234B) to acquire substantially identical property shall be treated as substantially identical property; and
(E) entering into a securities futures contract (as so defined) to sell shall be considered to be a short sale, and the settlement of such contract shall be considered to be the closing of such short sale.
(3) Where the taxpayer enters into 2 commodity futures transactions on the same day, one requiring delivery by him in one market and the other requiring delivery to him of the same (or substantially identical) commodity in the same calendar month in a different market, and the taxpayer subsequently closes both such transactions on the same day, subsections (b) and (d) shall have no application to so much of the commodity involved in either such transaction as does not exceed in quantity the commodity involved in the other.
(4)(A) In the case of a taxpayer who is a dealer in securities (within the meaning of section 1236)—
(i) if, on the date of a short sale of stock, substantially identical property which is a capital asset in the hands of the taxpayer has been held for not more than 1 year, and
(ii) if such short sale is closed more than 20 days after the date on which it was made,
subsection (b)(2) shall apply in respect of the holding period of such substantially identical property.
(ii) the term "stock" means any share or certificate of stock in a corporation, any bond or other evidence of indebtedness which is convertible into any such share or certificate, or any evidence of an interest in, or right to subscribe to or purchase, any of the foregoing.
(f) Arbitrage operations in securities
In the case of a short sale which had been entered into as an arbitrage operation, to which sale the rule of subsection (b)(2) would apply except as otherwise provided in this subsection—
(1) subsection (b)(2) shall apply first to substantially identical assets acquired for arbitrage operations held at the close of business on the day such sale is made, and only to the extent that the quantity sold short exceeds the substantially identical assets acquired for arbitrage operations held at the close of business on the day such sale is made, shall the holding period of any other such identical assets held by the taxpayer be affected;
(2) in the event that assets acquired for arbitrage operations are disposed of in such manner as to create a net short position in assets acquired for arbitrage operations, such net short position shall be deemed to constitute a short sale made on that day;
(3) for the purpose of paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection the taxpayer will be deemed as of the close of any business day to hold property which he is or will be entitled to receive or acquire by virtue of any other asset acquired for arbitrage operations or by virtue of any contract he has entered into in an arbitrage operation; and
(4) for the purpose of this subsection arbitrage operations are transactions involving the purchase and sale of assets for the purpose of profiting from a current difference between the price of the asset purchased and the price of the asset sold, and in which the asset purchased, if not identical to the asset sold, is such that by virtue thereof the taxpayer is, or will be, entitled to acquire assets identical to the assets sold. Such operations must be clearly identified by the taxpayer in his records as arbitrage operations on the day of the transaction or as soon thereafter as may be practicable. Assets acquired for arbitrage operations will include stocks and securities and the right to acquire stocks and securities.
(g) Hedging transactions
This section shall not apply in the case of a hedging transaction in commodity futures.
(B) such property becomes substantially worthless,
the taxpayer shall recognize gain in the same manner as if the short sale were closed when the property becomes substantially worthless. To the extent provided in regulations prescribed by the Secretary, the preceding sentence also shall apply with respect to any option with respect to property, any offsetting notional principal contract with respect to property, any futures or forward contract to deliver any property, and any other similar transaction.
(2) Statute of limitations
If property becomes substantially worthless during a taxable year and any short sale of such property remains open at the time such property becomes substantially worthless, then—
(A) the statutory period for the assessment of any deficiency attributable to any part of the gain on such transaction shall not expire before the earlier of—
(i) the date which is 3 years after the date the Secretary is notified by the taxpayer (in such manner as the Secretary may by regulations prescribe) of the substantial worthlessness of such property, or
(B) such deficiency may be assessed before the date applicable under subparagraph (A) notwithstanding the provisions of any other law or rule of law which would otherwise prevent such assessment.
(Aug. 16, 1954, ch. 736,
1984—Subsecs. (b), (d), (e)(4)(A)(i).
Subsecs. (d), (e)(4)(A)(i).
1955—Subsec. (f). Act Aug. 12, 1955, added subsec. (f).
Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Effective Date of 2002 Amendment
Effective Date of 1997 Amendment
Effective Date of 1984 Amendment
Effective Date of 1981 Amendment
Effective Date of 1976 Amendment
Amendment by section 1901(a)(137) of
Effective Date of 1958 Amendment
Amendment by section 52(b) of
Effective Date of 1955 Amendment
Act Aug. 12, 1955, ch. 871, §2,