Unrealized Gain: Everything You Need to Know

July 22, 2022

Unrealized Gain: Everything You Need to Know

If you want to be successful when it comes to making investments, then it's important that you understand the concept of realized and unrealized gains. Some people find the topic confusing, but it's really quite simple.

In this brief article, we will go over everything you need to know about unrealized gains and answer some important questions, such as what are unrealized gains? What are unrealized capital gains? Where is unrealized gain on a balance sheet? And much more.

What is an example of unrealized gain?

An unrealized gain is a financial situation where the price of a security has gone up (or down) since it was first acquired, but no sale has been made. In other words, you own something that is greater (or lower) in value than it was when you bought it, but no action has been taken to realize the gain and make money from it.

An example of an unrealized gain would be if you bought 100 shares of XYZ company at $10 per share, and now they are worth $12 per share. You have a "paper" profit (or loss) of $2 per share ($1200), but you haven't sold them yet, so it is not realized. If you sell the shares, then that's a realized gain.

Do you pay taxes on unrealized gains?

The answer to this question is a bit complicated. If you have unrealized gains on your investment portfolio, you will not have to pay any unrealized capital gains tax until you sell the assets and realize the gains.

For example, if you own one share of XYZ stock and it has appreciated by $1 since you bought it, that isn't considered income for tax purposes. However, if you sell that same share of XYZ stock for $2, then you will be subject to capital gains tax on the difference between what you paid for the stock ($1) and what you received when selling it ($2) because that gain has now been realized.

What is the difference between realized and unrealized gain?

Realized gains are profits you actually take from an investment. Unrealized gains are profits that you only have on paper; they haven't been cashed out or received in any other way.

For example, if you bought shares in a company for $10 each and they're worth $20 each now, your unrealized gain is $10 per share ($20 - $10). If you then sell those shares for $20 each, you will "realize" a gain of $10 per share.

How is unrealized gain calculated?

Records of unrealized gain on balance sheets refer to the difference between the purchase price of an asset and its current market value. When you own a security, such as a stock or bond, your unrealized gain or loss is simply the difference between what you paid for it and its current market value.

For example, if you bought 100 shares of a company for $10 each and the price of each share rose to $15 per share, then your unrealized gain would be $500 (100 x $5 profit). This means that if you sold those shares, you would realize your gain by receiving $500 more than what you originally paid for them.

Why is it important to track unrealized gains?

It's important to track unrealized gains because the price of an asset can go up or down. If you're holding on to an asset and the price goes up, that means you have unrealized gains. And if you want to sell those assets at some point in the future, it's good to know how much money you could potentially make from doing so.

As mentioned, there are also tax implications with realized gains, so having a clear picture of your realized and unrealized gains enables you to sell at the best time for your financial strategy. This can make a big difference in terms of your net profits or losses on any given trade or investment.  


Gains are an important concept to understand in business and finance. There are two main types of gains:

1. Realized gains: A realized gain is when you sell your asset for more than you originally paid, and you actually receive that profit.


2. Unrealized gains: An unrealized gain just means you haven’t sold the investment yet, so you haven’t actually received any profit from the transaction as of yet.

Keep in mind that If you want to stay on top of your investments and business finances, then you can use a tool like LiveFlow, which automates the process and makes everything much easier and more manageable.

To learn more about how LiveFlow can help your business, you can book a free demo. So, whether you are an investor, accountant, or business owner, be sure to check out LiveFlow today!

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