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I am planning on moving outside of New York state, and I am also selling some shares of stock.

The actual papers were submitted and dated before I will leave New York, but the actual wire transfer of the money will happen after I leave New York.

Which one of these events is the "income" event for tax purposes?

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    Neither of the dates you mentioned is the date when the income actually occurred/will occur. The trade date is the date when the income (capital gain/loss) occurs.
    – dg99
    May 16 '14 at 22:41
  • Can you clarify slightly? What I think you're asking is: For tax purposes, on what date is a capital gain considered to have happened, date of sale or date proceeds are received? Also, are you talking about shares of stock in a public company, sold on the open market, or the private sale of equity in a closely held business? May 16 '14 at 22:42
  • @RickGoldstein This -> "private sale of equity in a closely held business". The company is not public, and the sale is happening between me and a private equity firm. My research so far indicates that if I use the "cash" accounting method, then the date I would claim for tax purposes is the actual date where the money entered my account...but admittedly I don't know if stock is a special case.
    – Jeremy T
    May 16 '14 at 22:43
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In this scenario the date of income is the date on which the contract has been signed, even if you received the actual money (settlement) later. Regardless of the NY special law for residency termination - that is the standard rule for recognition of income during a cash (not installments) sale. The fact that you got the actual money later doesn't matter, which is similar to selling stocks on a public exchange.

When you sell stocks through your broker on a public exchange - you still recognize the income on the day of the sale, not on the day of the settlement.

This is called "the Constructive Receipt doctrine".

The IRS publication 538 has this to say about the constructive receipt:

Constructive receipt. Income is constructively received when an amount is credited to your account or made available to you without restriction. You need not have possession of it. If you authorize someone to be your agent and receive income for you, you are considered to have received it when your agent receives it. Income is not constructively received if your control of its receipt is subject to substantial restrictions or limitations.

Once you signed the contract, the money has essentially been credited to your account with the counter-party, and unless they're bankrupt or otherwise insolvent - you have no restrictions over it.

And also (more specifically for your case):

You cannot hold checks or postpone taking possession of similar property from one tax year to another to postpone paying tax on the income. You must report the income in the year the property is received or made available to you without restriction.

Timing wire transfer is akin to holding and not depositing a check, from this perspective. So unless there was a restriction that was lifted after you moved out of New York, I doubt you can claim that you couldn't have received it before moving out, i.e.: you have, in fact, constructively received it.

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It turns out that in this special case for New York, they have a law that says that if you are changing your filing status from resident to nonresident, you must use the accrual method for calculating capital gains.

So in this case, the date on the papers is the important one.

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    This talks about items you have not constructively received, but earned. For example they mention severance pay - you may not have quit your job yet, or you quit your job but the contract stipulates conditions for the severance (like: returning equipment, etc). However, even if the money hasn't been paid out to you yet and only will be when you've already left, you gained the right for the severance in New York, and they require you to pay taxes on it even if you wouldn't with cash accounting. Stock trades, however, are rarely "accrued".
    – littleadv
    May 17 '14 at 5:05

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