Why Traders Should Consider Making the Section 475 Election Before the Tax Deadline
The deadline has passed to elect Section 475 MTM for tax year 2020, but it’s still possible to do so for 2021. In this article, we’ll cover the basics about when and how to make the election.
Section 475 Basics
Eligible traders have the option to make a Section 475 election, which allows mark-to-market (MTM) accounting and treatment of trading gains and losses on commodities and securities as ordinary income. Without the election, traders use the cash method of accounting and are taxed on capital gains and losses when they are realized, with losses subject to the $3,000 limitation.
MTM accounting allows traders to offset losses against every type of income, including wages; in years where they have heavy losses, they are not subject to the loss limitations. MTM accounting also works the other way, so if you have large unrealized gains in your positions, then you’ll have to recognize those even though you haven’t liquidated those positions. Another benefit is that it exempts securities trades from wash sale loss adjustments.
Making the election is generally a good idea at the outset of operations or for existing taxpayers who have new losses from trading year-to-date up to the election deadline, giving ordinary loss treatment to these transactions. You can revoke the election in future years subject to certain rules.
Making the Election
Existing individual taxpayers need to file a Section 475 election statement with their return or extension by April 15, 2021. Then a Form 3115 needs to be filed with the 2021 tax return.
The Section 475 election can be a great benefit for active traders; however, the rules are complex so it’s best to consult with your CPA if are considering the election.