We got the following question from one of our readers:
" I made profits on commodity trades in 2011. The amount was $20,000. The 1099 from MF Global shows $20,000. However, I have received only $14,000 and probably will not get the entire $20,000. How much do I have to pay tax on?; the $14,000 that I received in 2011 or the 1099 showing that I made the entire $20,000?"
This situation is really two separate tax issues. The first issue is the reporting of the gain on the 2011 commodity trades. This $20,000 will be reported in 2011 just like any other year. The taxpayer had gains of $20,000 in the account and they are taxable as realized (we are assuming these are speculative trades; if a hedge, the amounts may be different).
The second issue is whether there is a "theft" loss due to MF Global's actions. If it is finally determined that there is a loss and it is considered theft, then it should be fully deductible in 2012, not 2011. The tax laws indicate that if the amount of the theft loss is not known by the end of the tax year, the loss is not deductible until the amount is known. In the MF Global case, that will be 2012 at the earliest and could be 2013.
This is a very complex case, but the bottom line is the loss is not deductible in 2011.
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Jim's Afternoon Markets Report--February 22