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When inherited, the basis of a depreciated asset is?
A. Stepped up
B. Stepped down
C. Carried over
D. Carried under
Typically, when an asset is inherited, the value of the asset has increased since it was purchased and the heir gets to “step up” (raise) the basis of the inherited property to the fair market value at the date of death. So, for example, if Grandpa bought shares of XYZ for $1,000 in the previous century, and the shares are worth $1 million on the date of Grandpa’s death, the basis for tax purposes is stepped up to $1 million to the lucky recipient. This means that capital gain escapes any federal taxation.
The basis “step-up” rule can become a “step-down” rule as well. So if an asset’s value has declined and someone inherits the asset, for the sake of taxes, the basis of the asset is stepped down (lowered) to the fair market value on the date of the owner’s death. This loss of basis can be avoided by the owner selling any depreciated property before death, so he or she can reap the tax losses.