Tracking Adjusted Cost Base with Multiple Brokerage Accounts

When an individual owns the same security in multiple trading/brokerage accounts, adjusted cost base should not be calculated separately for each account.  It may seem as though you should calculate adjusted cost base separately for each account, but the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requires that it be calculated jointly, as if all brokerage accounts were merged together.

If you own the same security in both a taxable account and registered accounts (RRSP or TFSA), any transactions within the registered accounts are non-taxable and thus ACB does not need to be calculated for the registered account.  The transactions within the registered accounts can be ignored when calculating ACB for the taxable account (with the exception that a transaction in a registered account can trigger the superficial loss rule for a transaction in a non-registered account).

AdjustedCostBase.ca provides a feature that allows users to have multiple portfolios.  However, separate portfolios should not be used for the case where you have multiple personal non-registered accounts.  It should only be used in other circumstances, such as for tracking ACB in a corporate account, or when using the tool for family members or clients.

This may be part of the reason why brokerages are not held responsible for reported ACB to their clients.  Since the brokerage is unaware about the client’s other accounts, it would be impossible for the brokerage to provide information on adjusted cost base to the client that’s guaranteed to be accurate.

20 thoughts on “Tracking Adjusted Cost Base with Multiple Brokerage Accounts

  1. neilsherri

    What about a mutual fund that you purchased at one institution that used the regular fee version and another institution that used the low fee version of the same fund?

  2. AdjustedCostBase.ca Post author

    Different versions of a mutual fund should probably be tracked separately since they are different classes and usually have different NAVs per share. However, a sale of one and purchase of the other within 30 days could trigger the superficial loss rule.

  3. neilsherri

    Appreciate the initial answer… I did some checking with the brokerage and they said they used a different “class” fund that has different NAV numbers. So on any given day one fund might be $31.20 and the other might be $32.50

    How can an accurate ACB be calculated if the two classes of funds have different NAVs on a given day?

  4. Nadeem

    What will be the ACB of a stock that is sold short? Will it be negative? Could you please also let me know if your ACB spreadsheet is geared for calculating ACB on short selling. Thanks

  5. Nadeem

    Thanks very much for the clarification. I am bit confused about when do we need to calculate ACB, as I am new in Canada and I actively trade U.S stocks on margin. You stated that ACB and Capital gains are not calculated on Short selling as it is considered to be on “Income A/c”. Assuming that all my other U.S stock long trades qualify only as “trading income” due to high frequency and so on. Do I still have to calculate ACB (and Capital gains on the basis of ACB) for tax purposes?

  6. Nadeem

    Thanks for such an important clarification for all those individuals who may not qualify for Capital A/c and still undertake this painful exercise with hundreds of trades!

    Since ACB is the basis of Gain/Loss calculation on Capital A/c, could you please clarify what will be the basis of G/L calculation on Income A/c assuming the same stock transactions data.

    Many thanks

  7. Ignac Vucko

    I have read that the superficial loss rule will apply if you sell a security in non-registered account but buy it from a registered account within the 61 day window. As such, while ACB for registered accounts don’t strictly need to be calculated, trade dates for securities that are in common between non-registered and registered accounts must be tracked.

    If this is correct, I think this FAQ answer should be modified to specifically mention this.

    Thanks

  8. Matt

    What happens if you have a non-registered account in your name and a non-registered account that is a joint account? Do you combine the ACB or do you calculate them separately?

    Thanks!

  9. Richard

    Hi. The article mentions combining ACB for identical securities held in multiple non-registered trading accounts.

    Does holding a security in bold CDN and USD also apply? The security in CDN for examples has a different ticker .tsx whereas the USD held version is on the NYSE.

    Must these also be combined?

    Thanks

  10. ed wainwright

    my mothers original broker merged or was taken over several times then the account was moved to a discount broker the shares that came over are shown as book value unavailable. I have been unsuccessful trying to track the original cost of these shares. as I will one day be the executor of her estate how can I determine a cost base for cra reporting

  11. Pete

    Is interest paid in a margin account eligible to be added to the ACB for a stock producing capital gains only?

    The stock in the margin account in question does not produce income, so I cannot deduct it as an investment expense as I am only producing capital gains. However, I think there should be some mechanism for me to claim that expense (interest) on the money I earn when I sell the stock.

  12. Norm

    What happens if you have a total of three non-registered accounts. One joint and as well each spouse has one. Do you combine the ACB for holdings in multiple accounts or do you calculate them separately?

  13. AdjustedCostBase.ca Post author

    Norm,

    According to IT-511R:

    “Pursuant to paragraphs 74.2(1)(a) and (b), where an individual has transferred or loaned property to the individual’s spouse any taxable capital gains or allowable capital losses arising from the dispositions of the property or property substituted for it (other than listed personal property) are deemed to be taxable capital gains or allowable capital losses of the individual.”

    According to attribution rules for spouses capital gains are allocated based on whom the funds used to purchase the shares originated from. If both you and your spouse funded the purchase, then the gain should be allocated in that same proportion.

    This can become complex and murky when there are many cash transfers into the account and many share purchases.

    I’m not completely clear on how ACB should be calculated when you own identical property both in an individual account and a joint account with your spouse. My guess would be that you would each maintain your own ACB, which is calculated based on your own shares held in your individual account, combined with a portion of shares in the joint account that’s based on how much you’ve contributed to funding the account.

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  15. Corrie

    What to report in Box 20 if one bought and sold same type of shares multiple times in the year? I was told that it should be the ACB right before the sell. But I sold multiple times, so not sure how to report. Kindly clarify this for me, please!

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