How to Report 1256 Contracts

When it comes to filing taxes, there’s no doubt that it can be a daunting task. However, if you are someone who trades futures or options contracts, it`s important to understand the requirements for reporting 1256 contracts on your tax returns.

What are 1256 contracts?

1256 contracts are regulated by Section 1256 of the Internal Revenue Code. These contracts include futures and options contracts on a variety of financial instruments such as commodities, currencies, and indexes. The section 1256 contracts are subject to special tax rules that differ from the tax rules for ordinary stocks and bonds.

The tax treatment of 1256 contracts

1256 contracts are subject to mark-to-market accounting, which means that their gains and losses are marked-to-market at the end of each year and taxed at a 60/40 split. 60% of the gains and losses are taxed as long-term capital gains, while 40% are taxed as short-term capital gains.

How to report your 1256 contracts

If you held 1256 contracts during the tax year, you must report them on Form 6781, Gains and Losses from Section 1256 Contracts and Straddles. This form will show the gains and losses that were reported by your broker on the Form 1099-B, Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions.

In addition to Form 6781, you will also need to report your net gain or loss from your 1256 contracts on Schedule D (Form 1040), Capital Gains and Losses. This is where you’ll report the actual taxable amounts, including any adjustments or carryovers from the previous tax year.

If you’re unsure of how to fill out these forms, it may be helpful to work with a tax professional who understands the complexities of trading and can help ensure that you’re accurately reporting your gains and losses.

Tips for minimizing your tax liability

If you’re trading 1256 contracts, there are also some strategies you can implement to minimize your tax liability. One of the most common strategies is tax-loss harvesting, which involves selling losing positions before the end of the tax year to offset your gains and reduce your overall tax liability. Additionally, it’s important to keep accurate records of your trades, including the purchase date, sale date, and cost basis. This will make it easier to accurately report your gains and losses.


As with any investment, it’s important to understand the tax implications of trading 1256 contracts. By keeping accurate records of your trades and working with a tax professional when necessary, you can ensure that you’re accurately reporting your gains and losses and minimizing your overall tax liability.