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Gift of mutual fund shares: What’s the basis?

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Q. I transferred mutual fund shares worth $3,000 to my niece for her graduation. My basis was $2,500. If she sells the shares for $2,200, can she deduct the full loss? M.L.B., Silver Spring, Md. 

A. No. Normally, the gift recipient retains the same adjusted basis as the donor. However, if the fair market value of a gift is lower than the donor’s basis, the property’s basis for determining loss is its fair market value at the date of the gift. (IRC Sec. 1015(a)) That doesn’t apply in your case, so your niece’s basis is $2,500.
 
Therefore, your niece can deduct a $300 loss ($2,200 sales proceeds from $2,500 basis).
 
Tip: Costs of purchasing securities (e.g., commissions) are added to a donor’s basis to determine “adjusted basis.”

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