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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My father has sold a number of shares that were purchased decades ago, and subject to uncounted splits. Information on the original cost (avg cost base) has been lost. His fin. advisor says 'keep looking'. I would have thought there would be the electronic equivalent of a share certificate number, which could be traced by the issuer company) to an original 'certificate'. Or does CRA allow a taxpayer to use 'estimated ACB', based on (approximate) year of purchase?
Suggestions appreciated.....
 

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When I was a FA we spent a fair amount of time during tax season tracking ACBs for long-held stocks.

There isn't any easy way to do it. I don't think I have retained any of the web sites we used to use, but if you contact the issuing companies directly, you can get the value of the shares at issue date, and then info about splits/consolidations over time. I would typically prepare spreadsheets which showed valuations, splits, consolidations, distributions, etc. for each redeemed share or group of shares.

I hesitate to say "use your best estimate" because I know, for the most part, the info is out there. A competent tax preparer will both know how to do this and do it for you (or him).

Word to the wise: when you hold unregistered stocks, keep track of your ACB over time!
 

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If the shares were purchased at a brokerage, you can ask for old statements. (Prepared to fork out some money-this cost can be deducted from your proceeds from the sale.

If the shares were certificated you can use the share price on the date on the certificate or contact the transfer agent.

Let me know if this helps.
 

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It is not the Financial Advisor you should be asking. Go to the brokerage he used. He must remember that much. They have been bought up and consolidated since, but if you tell us the name us older guys might remember.

In my experience all the brokerages will trace transactions for a fee.
 

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Depending on how much the stock was worth, you could just declare that the ACB was 0 and pay more tax than you need to, but save yourself the records search. Since it's something from decades ago there might not be much of a difference in the tax paid, e.g., the S&P500 was around 100 a few decades ago, and around 950 now. The difference on paying tax on a gain of 950 vs 850 is only about 12% -- if 10-20% of the tax owing is comparable to the cost (and effort) of trying to dig up old records, it might not be worth doing. If he sold ~$5k worth of stock, and is looking at ~$750 in tax owing, then it might not be worth trying to save the last $75 (especially if the brokerage charges by the hour to go through the file vault)... but if it was $50k or $500k in stock, then of course that's a different story!

IANAL, IANATA
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks

Moneygal et al - thanks very much for the excellent feedback.
My take-away from the responses:
- use the year of purchase and web price & split histories/services (BigChart, acbtracking) to determine the ACB (close enough)
- Depending on how much the stock was worth, possibly declare that the ACB was 0 and pay small excess tax (avoid the records search)
- if the original broker is known - try this first
- going forward - make sure records of all transactions are maintained

Thanks to all... Peter
 
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