Filing Your Taxes from Trading and Investing

Which Form Should I Use?

Traders and investors have only a few IRS tax forms to deal with depending upon which instruments they traded. Choose the different trading instruments available below to learn more about the IRS tax form required for filing your gains and losses:

Stocks / Options / Single-Stock-Futures / Mutual Funds / Drips / Exchange Traded Funds / Notes (ETFs/ETNs) / Bonds / Warrants

IRS Forms to File:

Most cash basis traders fall into this category and file their gains and losses on Schedule D. At first glance, this form may seem quite simple to fill out, but nothing is as simple as it seems for the active trader.

Please see our IRS Schedule D / Form 8949 tax resource for details.

For those who have elected the Section 475(f) Mark-to-Market accounting method with the IRS:

IRS Form to File:

Please see How to report gains and losses marked to market for details.

Futures / Futures Options / Commodities / Commodity Options / Broad-Based Index Options

IRS Form to File:

Form 6781 is used for all commodity futures, index futures, and broad-based index option contracts.

The form is broken down into two sections:

  1. Part I - Section 1256 Contracts Marked to Market
  2. Part II - Gains and Losses from Straddles

The advantage of these trading instruments is that they are taxed at a 60% long-term and 40% short-term.

There are no IRS requirements to itemize your futures trades to file your taxes.

Simply take Total Gain and Total Loss figures from your TradeLog Form 6781 report and enter the totals on your IRS Form 6781 - Part I - line 1 - columns (b) and (c).

This is the minimum amount of paperwork required by any of these instruments and makes filing your taxes on Futures trading much simpler than trading stocks and options. No other reports or attachments are required.

Currency Futures

Currency futures contracts are considered by the IRS as section 1256 contracts and are treated the same as any other Future or Commodity contract.


FOREX (Foreign Exchange Market) trades are not reported to the IRS the same as stocks and options, or futures. FOREX trades are considered by the IRS as simple interest and the gain or loss is reported as “other income” on Form 1040 (line 21).

No special schedules or matched trade lists are necessary.

For a detailed discussion on filing your taxes for your FOREX trades, see the GreenTraderTax Currency Education topic.

TradeLog generates IRS-ready tax reporting for active traders and investors.

Please note: This information is provided only as a general guide and is not to be taken as official IRS instructions. Cogenta Computing, Inc. does not make investment recommendations nor provide financial, tax or legal advice. You are solely responsible for your investment and tax reporting decisions. Please consult your tax advisor or accountant to discuss your specific situation.