What is Form 4797?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Form 4797 is a document required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States when people transfer business property or experience gains and losses related to such property. This document must be filed along with other tax documentation to adequately compute tax liability and provide information about profits and losses for a given tax year. For people with accountants, this form will be filled out automatically when it becomes evident that it is necessary. People who file their own taxes will need to review the form 4797 to see if they are required to fill it out.

From 4797 is used to report transfers, losses and gains associated with business property.
From 4797 is used to report transfers, losses and gains associated with business property.

Every year, the form and directions are subject to change, reflecting new developments in the tax code. It is important to use a form and directions from the right year when filing. The IRS maintains a database of tax forms for the current year and can provide people with prior year forms, for individuals who are amending tax returns or filing back taxes. All tax forms are clearly marked at the top to indicate the year they are valid for, making it easy to confirm that the correct form is being used.

The most common reason to use a form 4797 is in the reporting of the sale of a business property. Trades and other transfers are reported with this form, as are involuntary conversions, where people lose property to theft, destruction, and other catastrophic events. The form 4797 is also used in the declaration of profits and losses related to business property, and can be used to file reports on mixed types of property, where people may be able to depreciate or recapture only part of the property value.

As with other IRS forms, the form 4797 comes with detailed instructions. It is advisable to read the instructions fully before starting on the form, as answers to many common questions can often be found further down in the instructions. Once people have read the instructions and gathered the supporting documentation they need, they can sit down to fill out the form. After the form is complete, it should be reviewed for any obvious errors such as transposed numbers or spaces accidentally left blank.

Filing taxes can get complicated when people are dealing with multiple tax forms and a great deal of financial records. Keeping records in order can streamline the process and people may also find it helpful to consult an accountant. Accountants can help with regular bookkeeping, assist with the development of a system for maintaining records, and fill out tax paperwork for their clients. Their experience allows them to handle taxes rapidly and accurately while also taking advantage of nuances of the tax code to reduce tax liability.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Thanks to that wonderful invention known as the Internet (you know -- the thing all the kids are wild about), filling out the various and sundry IRS forms has gotten a lot easier. If you're having trouble with one, the chances are good other people have had the same problem you are having and have discussed it with other taxpayers and some accountants online. While you do have to be careful about what tax advice you get on the Internet, you can at least get pointed in the right direction with some solid research with your favorite search engine.

Computer-based tax programs have also gotten better over the years at helping people figure out what they need to fill out, what deductions can be taken and what tax obligations people will have.

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