Question about advanced-portfolio handling of "expense" splits

Andrew Sackville-West ajswest at
Mon Dec 10 12:27:05 EST 2007

I keep sending from the wrong address and end up in
moderation. blah. sorry.


----- Forwarded message from Andrew Sackville-West <andrew at> -----

To: Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky at MIT.EDU>, gnucash-devel at
From: Andrew Sackville-West <andrew at>
Subject: Re: Question about advanced-portfolio handling of "expense" splits

On Mon, Dec 10, 2007 at 12:47:57AM -0600, Boris Zbarsky wrote:
> Andrew Sackville-West wrote:
>> In theory, a transaction with a brokerage fee would involve buying or
>> selling shares. THis would have a minimum of three splits:
>> 1) for the actual stocks bought or sold
>> 2) for the actual money involved: ie, the proceeds from the sale or
>> the funds used for the purchase, moving to or from a checking accoutn,
>> a brokerage account, or some other place.
>> 3) the brokerage fee
> I guess the brokerage accounts I've had actually have splits 1 and 2 
> happening on one date, and the brokerage fee happening on another date, 
> which forces one to treat them as separate transactions in Gnucash.  I 
> could certainly add a dummy account to force more than two splits in the 
> actual brokerage fee payment (and will probably do so whenever I update 
> Gnucash).

hmmm... that is a problem. I've said it many times in discussions
about this report. There is no way at this point to distinguish
between the different purposes of transactions. The result is that you
can't tell that one transaction is an "expense" of donated shares and
another transaction is shares sold to cover a brokerage fee. Of course
for purposes of gains, it's immaterial, but for other purposes like
tracking brokerage fees, it is material.

>> The difficulty in this report is there are many different ways to
>> model these transactions, but from the point of view of the report,
>> they are often indistinguishable, so we have to make a reasonable
>> assumption.
> Indeed.  I've been wondering whether what we really want is more 
> differentiation of accounts or extra metadata attached to some accounts or 
> something....

probably. Thats a little beyond my skill/knowledge of gnucash at the


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