How to Calculate Tax Basis in a Corporation

How to Calculate Tax Basis in a Corporation

Tax basis is an important concept in corporate taxation, as it determines the amount of gain or loss that a corporation can recognize for tax purposes. Calculating tax basis involves determining the initial basis of an asset, making adjustments for various transactions and events, and keeping track of any changes over time. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to calculate tax basis in a corporation.

1. Determine the initial basis: The initial basis of an asset is usually its cost, including any additional expenses incurred to acquire and prepare the asset for use in the business.

2. Make adjustments for capital contributions: If the corporation receives additional capital from shareholders, the basis of the stock increases by the amount of the contribution. This helps determine the tax consequences when the stock is sold or distributed.

3. Account for distributions: Distributions made to shareholders reduce the basis of their stock. The basis reduction is generally allocated pro-rata among all shareholders.

4. Include earnings and profits: A corporation’s earnings and profits (E&P) can increase the tax basis of its stock. E&P is a measure of the corporation’s economic ability to pay dividends, and it is important to track any changes in E&P to accurately calculate tax basis.

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5. Adjust for stock dividends and splits: Stock dividends and splits impact the basis of the shares. In a stock dividend, the basis of the existing shares is allocated to both the existing and the new shares. In a stock split, the basis per share is reduced proportionally.

6. Account for losses and deductions: Deductions and losses can reduce the tax basis of assets or stock, depending on the specific circumstances. It is crucial to properly track and document all deductible expenses and losses.

7. Consider the effects of depreciation: Depreciation deductions can decrease the tax basis of depreciable assets over time. Different depreciation methods and recovery periods may apply, so it’s important to consult tax regulations and guidelines.

8. Determine the adjusted basis: After accounting for all adjustments, the adjusted basis of an asset or stock is the tax basis that will be used to calculate gain or loss upon sale or disposition.

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9. Keep accurate records: Maintaining accurate and detailed records of all transactions and events that impact tax basis is essential for compliance and future reference. Regularly updating basis calculations will ensure accurate reporting and minimize potential errors or discrepancies.


1. What is the tax basis of a corporation?
The tax basis of a corporation is the value assigned to its assets and stock for tax purposes.

2. Can tax basis be negative?
Yes, tax basis can be negative if the corporation has generated more losses than gains over time.

3. How does tax basis affect capital gains tax?
Tax basis is used to calculate the capital gain or loss when an asset or stock is sold. A higher basis can result in lower capital gains tax.

4. Can tax basis change over time?
Yes, tax basis can change through various transactions, events, and adjustments, as outlined in the steps above.

5. How do I calculate tax basis for depreciable assets?
Tax basis for depreciable assets can be calculated by subtracting the total depreciation deductions claimed from the initial basis of the asset.

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6. Can tax basis be different for financial reporting and tax purposes?
Yes, tax basis may differ from the basis used for financial reporting due to different rules and regulations governing taxation and financial accounting.

7. Do tax basis adjustments affect future tax returns?
Yes, adjustments made to tax basis can impact future tax returns, particularly when assets or stock are sold or disposed of.

8. How often should tax basis be calculated?
Tax basis should be regularly calculated and updated to reflect changes in assets, stock, and transactions that impact basis.

9. Can I rely on tax software to calculate tax basis?
While tax software can assist in calculating tax basis, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of the underlying principles and rules to ensure accuracy and compliance. Consulting with a tax professional is recommended for complex situations.

Calculating tax basis in a corporation is a complex process that requires attention to detail and adherence to tax regulations. By following these steps and keeping accurate records, businesses can ensure accurate reporting and minimize potential errors or discrepancies in tax basis calculations.

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