Unrealized Loss


DEFINITION of 'Unrealized Loss'

A loss that results from holding onto an asset after it has decreased in price, rather than selling it and realizing the loss. An investor may prefer to let a loss go unrealized in the hope that the asset will eventually recover in price, thereby at least breaking even or posting a marginal profit. For tax purposes, a loss needs to be realized before it can be used to offset capital gains.

BREAKING DOWN 'Unrealized Loss'

For example, assume an investor purchased 1,000 shares of Widget Co. at $10, and it subsequently traded down to a low of $6. The investor would have an unrealized loss of $4,000 at this point. If the stock subsequently rallies to $8, at which point the investor sells it, the realized loss would be $2,000. For tax purposes, the unrealized loss of $4,000 is of little significance, since it is merely a "paper" or theoretical loss; what matters is the realized loss of $2,000.

  1. Unrealized Gain

    A profit that exists on paper, resulting from any type of investment. ...
  2. Tax Gain/Loss Harvesting

    Selling securities at a loss to offset a capital gains tax liability. ...
  3. Realized Loss

    A loss is recognized when assets are sold for a price lower than ...
  4. Capital Gain

    1. An increase in the value of a capital asset (investment or ...
  5. Capital Loss

    The loss incurred when a capital asset (investment or real estate) ...
  6. Put-Call Parity

    A principle that defines the relationship between the price of ...
Related Articles
  1. Options & Futures

    What To Do When Your Options Trade Goes Awry

    Check out some repair strategies to help boost the profit potential of a losing position.
  2. Active Trading Fundamentals

    The Stop-Loss Order - Make Sure You Use It

    It's a simple but powerful tool to help you implement your stock-investment strategy. Find out how.
  3. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Passively Managed Vs. Actively Managed Mutual Funds: Which is Better?

    Learn about the differences between actively and passively managed mutual funds, and for which types of investors each management style is best suited.
  4. Professionals

    How to Navigate Taxable Mutual Fund Distributions

    It's almost time for year-end capital gains distributions for mutual funds. Here's how to monitor them and minimize their tax impact.
  5. Investing Basics

    3 Alternative Investments the Ultra-Rich Usually Own

    Learn about the ultra rich and what normally comprises their net worth; understand the top three alternative investments usually owned by the ultra rich.
  6. Stock Analysis

    The 5 Best Dividend Stocks in the Healthcare Sector

    Learn about the top five dividend stocks of companies operating in the health care sector that generate substantial cash flows to afford high payouts.
  7. Investing

    Baby Boomer Philanthropy Shifts Wealth Adviser Focus

    Wealth advisers who integrate philanthropy and finance planning can stand out with baby boomer clients.
  8. Taxes

    The Top 10 Caribbean Tax Havens

    Discover relevant tax policy information about the top 10 tax havens located in the Caribbean, including the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas.
  9. Investing

    How ETFs May Save You Thousands

    Being vigilant about the amount you pay and what you get for is important, but adding ETFs into the investment mix fits well with a value-seeking nature.
  10. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Mutual Funds Millennials Should Avoid

    Find out what kinds of mutual funds are unsuitable for millennial investors, especially when included in millennial retirement accounts.
  1. What are unrealized gains and losses?

    An unrealized loss occurs when a stock decreases after an investor buys it, but he or she has yet to sell it. If a large ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Are Cafeteria plans taxable?

    Whether the benefits you receive through your employer-sponsored cafeteria plan are taxable depends entirely on which benefits ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Can mutual funds only hold stocks?

    There are some types of mutual funds, called stock funds or equity funds, which hold only stocks. However, there are a number ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How do I read and analyze an income statement?

    The income statement, also known as the profit and loss (P&L) statement, is the financial statement that depicts the ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Do mutual funds pay interest?

    Some mutual funds pay interest, though it depends on the types of assets held in the funds' portfolios. Specifically, bond ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Why have mutual funds become so popular?

    Mutual funds have become an incredibly popular option for a wide variety of investors. This is primarily due to the automatic ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has been held for over a year. Section 1231 property includes buildings, ...
  2. Term Deposit

    A deposit held at a financial institution that has a fixed term, and guarantees return of principal.
  3. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  4. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  5. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  6. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!