What the Heck is Basis, Anyway?

Last week, I committed a terrible tax blogging sin: I used jargon. I try not to use jargon on my blog. I find it annoying, for one, because who wants to actually sound like a tax attorney (no offense to my esteemed colleagues). But more importantly, what’s the point of reading a blog that you can’t understand? So, I’m making amends with a quick explanatory post about basis. Here’s the context: there’s a current proposal in Congress to reinstate the federal estate tax with a higher personal exemption and a “stepped up” basis for assets. The proposal also includes an …