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Let's say I buy 1 share of stock X for $2, then sell that share back a week later for $1.

The wash sale rules say that it's a wash sale if I buy the stock within 30 days before or after the sale. Does this transaction count as a wash sale? I would guess not, but I couldn't find any online guidance on this point. Maybe because experts consider it too obvious? :)

I have read that if I then buy the stock back soon after it'll be a wash sale. I understand that. But in this case I'm just selling it and using the money for something else.

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Wash sale is a transaction where you discard shares at a loss only to repurchase it again. The IRS wants to prevent tax loss harvesting without substantial change of the underlying holding.

Since in your scenario there's no repurchase - there's no wash sale. Just a sale.

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    How does this square with the language that you can't buy a security 30 days "before" the wash sale? Feb 14, 2023 at 1:01
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    @KevinBurke in the OPs scenario the share bought is the share sold.
    – littleadv
    Feb 14, 2023 at 1:04

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