Capital Gains and Losses - Line 18
What does SMALLER mean?
Forgive me for what I'm sure many of you will consider a dumb question, perhaps a picky question, but when I took Algebra in the 9th grade, -4,000 was a smaller number than -3,000. Still is. I'm 99.9% sure of the answer but just would like a verification.
On line 17a I have a negative 4,000, i.e., a loss.
On line 18, the form says ...
If line 17a is a loss, enter ... the SMALLER of (a) that loss (negative 4,000) or (b) negative 3,000.
A $3,000 loss is a smaller loss than a $4,000 loss but the number on line 17a (-4,000) is smaller than -3,000.
Someone tell me, that ... Yes, the IRS wants -$3,000 and they should have been more explicit when it came to the word SMALLER. They should have said that they wanted the figure with the SMALLER ABSOLUTE VALUE or the figure that represented the SMALLER LOSS and not left the word SMALLER out there naked, all by its lonesome self.