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Form 3115/Form 6252

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Form 3115 and Form 6252

It is crucial to comprehend the complexities of tax obligations when managing rental property investments. This includes knowledge on how to address missed depreciation opportunities and handle the tax implications of property sales. Dimov Tax & CPA Services’ professional consultants specialize in assisting clients with these complex scenarios through the use of IRS Form 3115 for catch-up depreciation and Form 6252 for reporting installment sales. This article will elucidate what these forms are, their processes and how our services can ensure compliance and optimize your tax outcomes.

Fundamentals of Form 3115 and Form 6252

Form 3115: Application for Change in Accounting Method
Taxpayers utilize form 3115 to request a change in their accounting method with the IRS. It also includes catching up on depreciation which was not claimed in previous years on rental property. This process is regulated by specific IRS regulations that allow property owners to adjust their tax returns to reflect depreciation accurately.

  • Regulated by: Internal Revenue Code Section 481(a), which permits adjustments to taxable income when a change in accounting method occurs.

Form 6252: Installment Sale Income
Form 6252 is used to report income from an installment sale, a sale of property where at least one payment is received after the tax year in which the sale occurs. This is particularly relevant in real estate transactions and allows taxpayers to spread the recognition of gains over several years.

  • Regulated by: Internal Revenue Code Section 453, which governs the taxation of installment sales.

Understanding Forms 3115 and 6252 involves recognizing both their unique functions and intersections within U.S. tax law, particularly in the context of real estate and rental property management.

Form 3115: Obligations

Filing Form 3115 is essential for property owners who have not maximized their depreciation deductions in the past. This scenario can arise in several instances:

  • Property owners who did not claim depreciation in the initial years of property acquisition.
  • Those who missed adjusting the basis of their property after significant improvements.
  • Investors who previously used an incorrect depreciation method or recovery period.

Form 6252: Obligations

The obligation to file Form 6252 falls upon any taxpayer who sells a property under terms that permit at least one payment to be received in a year after the year of sale. 

This typically includes:

  • Real estate investors selling rental properties.
  • Property owners engaging in owner financing arrangements.
  • Taxpayers looking to defer taxes through structured payment plans.

Process Steps for Filing 

The filing process for Form 3115 involves several critical steps to ensure that all legal and procedural requirements are met. 

  1. Identification of Missed Depreciation: The amount of missed depreciation must be calculated This step often requires a review of past tax returns and property records.
  2. Completion of Form 3115: The form must be accurately completed, detailing the requested change.
  3. Submission to the IRS: Form 3115 should be submitted to the IRS. It should be attached to the taxpayer’s federal income tax return in certain cases.
  4. Adjustments Post Approval: Once approved, adjustments to taxable income are made as specified under Section 481(a), correcting any past depreciation errors.

The filing process for Form 6252 is structured to ensure clarity and compliance throughout the installment agreement. The steps include:

  1. Sale Reporting: In the year of the sale, the total selling price and initial payments received must be reported.
  2. Income Calculation: For each year payments are received, part of each payment should be reported as income. This includes the calculation of interest (if applicable) and principal components.
  3. Annual Filing: Taxpayers must file Form 6252 each year they receive a payment. The form helps track the cumulative principal received and the outstanding balance.
  4. Final Reporting: Once the final payment is received, the taxpayer concludes the reporting process by filing a final Form 6252, summarizing the total income recognized from the sale.


Both forms are frequently used by real estate investors. Form 3115 can be utilized for catching up on missed depreciation on rental properties, while Form 6252 is used when a property is sold under an installment agreement. 

In addition, each form serves as a tool for tax adjustment or deferral. Form 3115 allows taxpayers to adjust past tax returns for depreciation not previously claimed, potentially lowering tax liabilities for previous years. Similarly, Form 6252 enables deferral of income recognition over the period payments are received, which can spread out tax liabilities over several years.

Last but not least, both forms help taxpayers remain compliant with IRS regulations by accurately reporting past or ongoing transactions.

The connection between Form 3115 and Form 6252 primarily revolves around the management of rental properties and the strategic planning of taxes. Property owners who use both forms are typically engaged in maximizing their tax efficiencies over multiple years. For example, a property owner might use Form 3115 to correct past depreciation schedules, thus lowering taxable income retrospectively and prospectively. Later, if they sell the same property under an installment agreement, they would use Form 6252 to defer the recognition of gains, spreading tax liabilities associated with the sale over the period they receive payments.

Both forms represent strategies to manage fiscal outcomes associated with real estate investments, providing different mechanisms to optimize and comply with tax obligations. By understanding and utilizing both forms correctly, property owners can ensure more accurate and beneficial tax reporting and planning.

At Dimov Tax & CPA Services, we offer comprehensive assistance for both Form 3115 and Form 6252 filings. Our services include:

  • Detailed Record Analysis: Evaluation and reconstruction of depreciation schedules and sales contracts.
  • Form Preparation and Filing: Accurate and timely preparation and submission of all necessary forms to the IRS.
  • Strategic Tax Planning: Guidance on how to use these tax provisions to minimize current and future tax liabilities.
  • Ongoing Support: Continuous monitoring and advice to ensure compliance and optimize tax strategy.

By addressing missed depreciation through Form 3115 and managing installment sale reporting with Form 6252, property owners can significantly improve their tax outcomes. Our expertise in these areas ensures that our clients not only comply with IRS regulations but also optimize their tax positions. Allow us to guide you through these processes and help secure your financial future in real estate investment.

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