DEFINITION of 'Constructive Receipt'

A tax term mandating that a taxpayer is liable for income, which has not been physically received, but has been credited to the taxpayer's account or otherwise becomes available for him or her to draw upon in the future. Constructive receipt of income prevents taxpayers from deferring tax on income or compensation they have not yet utilized or spent.

BREAKING DOWN 'Constructive Receipt'

The doctrine of constructive receipt applies to employees that use the cash-basis method of accounting. This means that an employee who received a paycheck at the end of one year must report it as income that year, even if he or she didn't deposit the check until after the new year. This doctrine also stipulates that receipt of funds by an agent is considered to be received by the principal at that time as well.

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