Close this search box.

Table of Contents



In finance, “wash” refers to a trading activity where an investor simultaneously buys and sells the same security, essentially creating no change in their net position. Wash trades are often used to artificially increase trading volume, giving the impression of increased stock activity and demand. These practices are considered illegal and manipulative, and can lead to heavy penalties for those involved.


The phonetics of the keyword “wash” can be represented as /wɒʃ/ in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).

Key Takeaways

  1. The most common usage of “Wash” is in reference to Washington, a state in the United States that is rich in natural beauty and resources.
  2. Washington state is known for its diverse climates and landscapes, featuring everything from lush forests and coastal beaches to the volcanic Cascade Range and high desert.
  3. The state has a strong economy, with major industries including technology, aerospace, agriculture, and trade, as well as being home to several prominent companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Boeing.


The term “wash” in business/finance is important because it refers to a situation where two transactions offset or neutralize each other’s financial impact. This typically occurs when an investor sells a security and simultaneously buys back the same security, or engages in a trade that has no net effect on their overall financial position. Wash trades, which are considered illegal, can manipulate financial markets by artificially increasing trading volume and creating a false impression of activity, thus influencing stock prices. Understanding the concept of wash trades is crucial for regulators, investors, and traders alike, as recognizing such practices helps maintain a fair, efficient, and transparent marketplace.


Wash, in the context of finance and business, refers to transactions that are purposely undertaken to create an illusion of profitability or increased trading volume. This practice is typically used in an attempt to manipulate the market for the benefit of certain individuals or entities. While wash transactions may seem beneficial on the surface by making the financial climate appear more favorable and enticing, their actual purpose is disingenuous, as they do not necessarily reflect the real economic value or genuine trading activities of the assets involved. Wash transactions are often executed by traders or organizations looking to manipulate the perceived value of the financial instruments they deal with, such as stocks or commodities. For instance, by creating an inflated sense of trading volume, they can manipulate the prices and capitalize on the artificial demand generated in the market. This can also indirectly affect other market participants, as it influences their decisions based on the false impression created. To protect the integrity of the financial system, regulatory authorities such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States have implemented strict rules prohibiting wash transactions, and violators may face severe penalties and sanctions.


1. Wash Trade: A wash trade occurs when an investor simultaneously buys and sells the same security or financial instrument to manipulate the market and create an illusion of high trading volume. This practice is illegal and can mislead other investors into believing the security is in higher demand than it actually is. For example, in 2013, the SEC charged a hedge fund manager and his firm for conducting wash trades in a New York Stock Exchange-listed company to influence the market price. 2. Wash Sale: A wash sale occurs when an investor sells a security (e.g., a stock) at a loss and buys it back within 30 days before or after the sale. The IRS disallows the loss as a tax deduction in such cases because the investor still maintains control of the security. For example, if you sell a stock at a loss and repurchase the shares within a month, you won’t be able to claim the loss as a tax deduction. This prevents investors from selling an asset solely for tax benefits while retaining a similar position in their portfolio. 3. Wash Accounts: In the context of international trade, wash accounts are used to manage payments and currency exchanges between two parties located in different countries. These accounts simplify transactions, reduce the risk of currency fluctuations, and consolidate balances into one account. For example, a company in the United States with a subsidiary in Japan might use a wash account to handle transactions between the two entities, making it easier to manage the financial transactions and currency conversion.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What does the term “Wash” mean in finance and business?
In finance and business, a “wash” refers to a transaction where the net result after buying and selling securities or commodities is zero. Essentially, it means that the gains and losses in a transaction cancel each other out, leading to no net profit or loss.
Can you give an example of a wash transaction?
Suppose an investor buys 100 shares of a stock for $10 each, spending a total of $1,000. Later, they sell the same 100 shares for $10 each, receiving $1,000. In this case, the transaction is considered a wash because there is no net profit or loss.
What is a wash sale?
A wash sale occurs when an investor sells a security at a loss and then repurchases the same security or a substantially identical one within 30 days before or after the sale. The intent is typically to recover the loss and maintain the investment position. However, the IRS disallows the loss claim for tax purposes on a wash sale.
How does the wash sale rule impact my taxes?
The wash sale rule is in place to prevent investors from selling securities at a loss, claiming the loss as a tax deduction, and then repurchasing the security within a 30-day window. If you engage in a wash sale, the IRS will disallow the loss and you will not be able to use it to offset other capital gains for tax purposes.
Can wash transactions be used for tax planning purposes?
While wash sales may appear to be a beneficial tax strategy, they are generally not recommended because the IRS specifically disallows the tax benefits of such transactions. Deliberate wash sales can lead to penalties and scrutiny from tax authorities. It is better to focus on legitimate tax planning strategies to minimize your tax liabilities.

Related Finance Terms

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More