CAPGAIN CAPLOSS: Question and suggestions

I have a question and two suggestions on the ASEC variables CAPGAIN and CAPLOSS:

Why have these variables been discontinued since 2008? (See their availability tabs.)

The reason I am asking is threefold:

a) All other tax variables imputed by the CB tax model are available for later years.

b) In their description tabs, it first says they are imputed by the CB tax model. But then it says “CPS discontinued this variable starting in 2010 and on.” Does this mean CPS no longer included the imputed values? Or does the CB tax model no longer provide them? (And why is the year listed there different from the availability tab?)

c) In the description tabs of their unharmonized variables (UH_CPGAIN_A1 and UH_CPLOSS_A1) it says “Amount of capital gains (losses) - 1980-2009” but again the info in the availability tab is different.


  1. The links to “user note” in their code tabs are broken. Would be great to restore their original destinations.
  2. I think it would be helpful to clarify in their descriptions that these variables report net amounts; I just checked years 2005 and 2006 and couldn’t find a single case in which they are simultaneously different from zero (except for NIU codes).

Thanks a lot for looking into this and for all the work on the documentation!

The best explanation I could find for why these variables were discontinued is in User Note 3 from the 2009 ASEC documentation (see the last page):

Data for two “after-tax” variables, CAP_GAIN and CAP_LOSS are not included in the 2009 ASEC public use file. They were removed from the “after-tax” model in an effort to expedite the release of alternative income and poverty estimates.

The listed year (2010) is a documentation error, and should read “2008.” The 1980-2009 on the unharmonized variables is also a documentation error, which should read “1992-2009.” The 1980-1991 data may exist, but they’re not in the usual ASEC files so IPUMS CPS hasn’t made them available yet. Thanks for pointing these out, and for your other suggestions. We’ll fix these in a future data release. I also noticed that the unharmonized variables were uniformly 0 in 2009, which is why this year was excluded from the harmonized variables.

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Many thanks for your answer and for updating the documentation @Matthew_Bombyk !

To double-check if they were re-introduced in later years, I just searched the 2010 and 2011 ASEC documentation files:

  • 2010: "Two person record variables, CAP-GAIN and CAP-LOSS, have been removed from the file. And one household record variable, STIMULUS, has been removed. These 3 variables no longer exist.”
  • 2011: They are no longer mentioned.

So it seems they’re gone for good, i.e. no longer provided by the CB.

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