What Is an Unrealized Gain?

What Is an Unrealized Gain?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

An unrealized gain is a potential profit that exists on paper, resulting from an investment. It’s a gain that hasn’t turned into cash and hasn’t been realized yet. This happens when an asset such as a stock or property increases in value, but it’s still held by the owner. When you sell the asset at a price higher than what you paid for it, only then does the unrealized gain becomes realized and you actually have a profit you can use.

Related Questions

1. What’s the difference between realized and unrealized gains?

Realized gains are profits from selling an asset at a price higher than the purchase price, while unrealized gains refer to potential profits that exist on paper because the asset has increased in value but has not been sold yet.

2. Do unrealized gains affect my taxes?

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Unrealized gains are usually not subject to taxes. They only become taxable when they become realized gains – that is, when the asset is sold for a profit.

3. Can unrealized gains turn into losses?

Yes, unrealized gains can potentially turn into unrealized losses if the value of the asset decreases before it’s sold.

4. How are unrealized gains represented on a financial statement?

They’re usually represented as part of a company’s retained earnings or on the equity section of the balance sheet. This signals that the company has potential profits that have not been realized yet.

5. When should I realize my gains?

This depends on your strategy and the performance of your investments. It’s generally a good idea to consult with a financial advisor or broker to determine the best time to sell your assets and realize your gains.