Tax season can be a daunting time for anyone, but for farmers, deciphering the intricacies of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) forms can feel like herding cats on a moonless night. Among the most perplexing is how to use Schedule F, an IRS form designed to calculate farm income and expenses, often causing furrowed brows and late nights at the kitchen table.
The IRS instructions for Schedule F resemble a labyrinth of jargon, deductions, and conditions, leaving farmers and ranchers grappling with confusion rather than crops. Yet, there's light at the end of the tax tunnel.
In this article, we embark on a journey to decode the cryptic riddles of Schedule F. Our mission? To guide you through the labyrinth, with a farmer’s tax guide, breaking down each line in clear, plain language. So, grab a pen, and let's simplify the IRS Schedule F, line by line, to help you breeze through tax season with confidence.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, it's important to note that consulting a tax professional is your best bet. Here at FarmRaise, we're dedicated to helping farmers get their farm finances in order - from bookkeeping to finding funding. In this post, we cover the essential Schedule F form but this information serves as a guide only. Check with your tax professional as you file your taxes.
”In this post, we’ll talk about how to file a Schedule F form, but if you’re wondering what it is and why it’s important, just know that Schedule F is a form that any sole proprietorship / single-member LLC farming business must complete when filing your federal taxes. If you’d like to learn more about about what Schedule F is and write offs relevant to the form, check out blog article “What is Schedule F?”
The time it takes to complete and submit this form varies from person to person. The estimated time to do this for individual taxpayers is mentioned in the instructions for their specific individual income tax return. For all other taxpayers who use this form, the estimated time is approved under OMB control number 1545-1975, and it's mentioned below:
As you’ll tell from this article, there’s a lot involved with accurately filling out a Schedule F form. The last thing you want to do is wait until the filing deadline, scrambling to find lost receipts and track down vital financial information.
The key to easier Schedule F filing is good recordkeeping throughout the year. That’s why we recommend a tool like FarmRaise Tracks. It organizes your financial info into Schedule F categories.
You can upload receipts, keep track of inventory, mileage, revenue, expenses and much more - all in one place. Tracks can significantly help you cut down on the time you spend at the desk so you can get back to the field. Try a demo here at no cost.
If you're filing Forms 1041 and 1065, skip the section marked "Social Security Number (SSN)." Instead, put the employer identification number (EIN) issued to the estate, trust, or partnership on line D.
On line B, pick one of the 17 principal agricultural activity codes listed in Part IV on page 2 of Schedule F (Form 1040). Select the code that best describes the source of most of your income.
If you use the cash method of accounting, tick the box for "Cash." In most cases, report income in the year you received it and expenses in the year you paid them. If your expenditure leads to an intangible asset that lasts longer than 12 months or extends into the next tax year, you might not be able to deduct it in the same year you paid. You can find more details on this in Chapter 2 of Pub. 225.
If you use the accrual method, check the "Accrual" box. Generally, you’ll report income in the year you earned it and expenses in the year you incurred them. Accrual-based taxpayers have to follow cash accounting rules when they're deducting expenses owed to someone who uses the cash accounting method. Other rules decide when you can claim deductions based on when those expenses contribute to your business's overall performance. You can find more about this in Pub. 538, which covers Accounting Periods and Methods.
Farming syndicates, like partnerships, LLCs, and S corporations, can't use the cash accounting method. A farming syndicate is essentially a group that runs a farm business and, for tax purposes, operates differently than a regular corporation (C corporation).
A farming syndicate falls under these conditions:
On line D, input the Employer Identification Number (EIN) that was assigned to you through Form SS-4. Do not use use your Social Security Number (SSN) or anyone else's EIN. If you don't have an EIN, you can just leave line D blank.
It's important to note that you require an EIN in specific situations, like if you have a qualified retirement plan or if you're obligated to submit various tax returns related to employment, excise taxes, or certain regulated goods like alcohol, tobacco, or firearms. An EIN is also needed, if you’re someone who provides payments to individuals who have won money through gambling. If you realize that you need an EIN, you should look at the Instructions on Form SS-4 for how to get one.
If you own an LLC by yourself, and for tax purposes, it's not considered a separate entity from you, you might have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) issued to the LLC under its own name. This happens if you need to file specific tax forms related to employment and certain excise taxes for the LLC. However, when you fill out line D on this form, use only the EIN that was issued to you personally, in your name as the sole owner of your farming business. If you don't have such a personal EIN, simply leave line D blank. In this case, do not use the EIN issued to the LLC.
Single-member LLCs that are treated as if they're not separate from their owner for federal income tax purposes, need to file employment tax returns using the name and Employer Identification Number (EIN) of the LLC itself, not the owner's name and EIN. You can find more details in the Instructions for Form SS-4.
On line D, enter the EIN issued to the estate, trust, or partnership.
To figure out your level of involvement in this business for passive activity rules, refer to the Schedule C (Form 1040) instructions at line G. If you meet the tests mentioned there, check "Yes."
If you're a retired or disabled farmer, you're considered actively involved if you met these criteria for at least five of the eight years before your retirement or disability. Similarly, if you're a surviving spouse actively managing a farm, and the real property qualifies for special valuation, you're also considered actively involved.
If you don't meet these criteria, check "No." If you have a loss from this business and marked "No," see the "Limit on passive losses" section next. If you have a profit but have losses from other passive activities or prior years, check the Instructions for Form 8582.
If you marked "No" and your business shows a loss, you might need to use Form 8582 to determine how much of that loss you can deduct on Schedule F (Form 1040), line 34. Generally, you can only deduct losses from passive activities up to the amount of income from passive activities. For more information, you can refer to Pub. 925 from the IRS.
If you made payments in 2023 that would need Forms 1099, mark "Yes." If not, mark "No."
Tip: Typically, you should file Form 1099-MISC if you paid $600 or more for rents, services, prizes, medical and health care payments, or other types of income.
In Part I, you'll list the money you received for the items mentioned on lines 1 through 8. In most cases, this includes the actual cash you got and the fair market value of goods or property you received for these items. You also need to count money as received when it's put in your account or set aside for you to use.
If you got money from renting your land based on crop shares or farm products and you were actively involved in running the farm, write down this money on line 2.
Selling Livestock Due to Bad Weather:
If you had to sell your livestock because of drought, floods, or other weather problems, you can choose to report the money you made from selling them in the year after you sold them. But there are a few conditions you need to meet for this to work:
You can find more information in chapter 3 of Pub. 225 from the IRS.
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy:
If you were involved in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case during 2023, see the Instructions for Form 1040 (look under Income) and the Instructions for Schedule SE (Form 1040) to get the details you need.
Forms 1099 or CCC-1099-G:
If you received Forms 1099 or CCC-1099-G showing amounts of money paid to you, first figure out if this money should be added to your farm income. Then, use the chart below to know where to write down this income on Schedule F (Form 1040). Make sure to include the amounts from the Forms 1099 or CCC-1099-G when you add up the total for that line.
Form - 1099-PATR
Where to report - Line 3a
Form - 1099-A
Where to report - Line 5b
Form - 1099-MISC for crop insurance
Where to report - Line 6a
Form - 1099-G or CCC-1099-G for disaster payments
Where to report - Line 6a
Form - 1099-G or CCC-1099-G for other agricultural program payments
Where to report - Line 4a
You might get a Form 1099-MISC for various types of income. When you do, just put that money on the line that matches what you did to earn it. For example, if you got a Form 1099-MISC for doing custom farming work, write down that amount on line 7.
Most of the time, the money you make from your farm comes in the form of cash, checks, or debit/credit card payments. So, when you're figuring out your total earnings, make sure to add up what's on your Form 1099-K (it's about Payment Card and Third Party Network Transactions) and all the other money you received.
If you received money from a cooperative in 2023, you should have received a Form 1099-PATR. On line 3a, write down the total amount you got from cooperatives. This includes things like patronage dividends (a share of profits), nonpatronage distributions (money given to you because you're part of the co-op), per-unit retain allocations (a bonus based on what you sold), and redemptions of certain certificates.
Put the cash amount of patronage dividends and the value of qualified written notices of allocation on this line. If you got stuff as patronage dividends, write down the fair market value of those items as income. Include cash advances received from a marketing cooperative. If you got cash from per-unit retains, show that amount. And if you received qualified per-unit retain certificates, write down the stated dollar value of those certificates.
But here's the deal: don't add patronage dividends from buying things for yourself, your family, big assets, or stuff that loses value over time on line 3b. Just put these amounts on line 3a. Because you're not supposed to count these patronage dividends as income, you need to subtract the dividend amount from what those things cost you.
On line 4a, record the total government farm payments you received, which cover various sources:
You typically receive information about these payments from Form 1099-G or Form CCC-1099-G issued by the Department of Agriculture.
However, here's an important distinction: on line 4b, report only the portion of the payment that is considered taxable. For instance, if you chose to include CCC loan funds as income in the year you received them (we'll delve deeper into this in Lines 5a Through 5c), you do not need to report the gain indicated on Form CCC-1099-G on line 4b. This is because you have already treated the CCC loan funds as income, and it's akin to repurchasing the item for the loan repayment amount. Nonetheless, if you did not report the CCC loan funds in the year of receipt, then you should declare the gain on line 4b.
Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) loans can be a bit tricky. In most cases, you don't need to consider CCC loan money as part of your income. But there's an exception: if you use some or all of your crops as collateral for a CCC loan, you can choose to count the loan money as income in the year you get it. If you decide to make this choice (or if you made this choice in a previous year), you should note the loan money you got in 2023 on line 5a. Remember to attach a statement explaining the loans. If you need more details, take a look at chapter 3 of Pub. 225.
If you ended up forfeiting CCC loans, put the entire forfeited amount on line 5b, regardless of whether you previously reported the loan money as income. Sometimes you might get a Form 1099-A with this amount.
Now, if you didn't choose to include the loan money as income, you should also list the forfeited amount on line 5c. But, if you did count the loan money as income, you usually won't have anything on line 5c. However, if the forfeited amount differs from your initial investment in the crop, then there might be an entry on line 5c.
To understand the tax implications of your choices regarding CCC loans and loan forfeitures, read chapter 3 of Pub. 225.
Usually, when you get money from your crop insurance or federal crop disaster aid, you need to report those crop insurance proceeds in the same year you receive it. But if the damage happened in 2023, you can choose to wait and include some of that money in your income for 2024. To make this choice, mark the box on line 6c and attach a statement to your tax return. You can find a list of the payments you can defer and what to put in your statement in chapter 3 of Pub. 225.
If you decide to defer any eligible crop insurance proceeds, you need to defer all of them from one farming business.
On line 6a, write down the total amount of crop insurance payments you got in 2023, even if you choose to wait until 2024 to include some of it in your income.
On line 6b, enter the part of the payments that are taxable for 2023. Don't include the payments you decide to include in your 2024 income.
Line 6d is for the money you got in 2022 but chose to include in your 2023 income.
On line 8, enter income that doesn't belong on lines 1 to 7. This includes various types of income:
Warning: When you acquire property or set up hedging positions, you must clearly document both the hedging transaction and the specific items or total risk you're protecting against in your records.
Remember, purchase or sales contracts aren't considered proper hedges if they're used to compensate for losses that have already happened. If you engaged in buying or selling commodity futures with the intention of making a profit from price changes, you should report your profit or loss on Form 6781 instead of reporting it on this line.
Expenses You Should Not Deduct
Do not deduct the following expenses:
If you receive any money back for an expense within the same year, you must subtract that amount from the deduction.
Capitalizing Costs: When you create or buy items to resell, you typically need to include certain expenses in your inventory. This includes the direct costs of those items and any indirect costs that belong to them.
Exceptions: Some farmers don't have to follow these capitalization rules:
These exceptions don't apply to certain business structures like tax shelters, farming groups, partnerships, or corporations using the accrual accounting method.
Special rules apply if someone other than the taxpayer pays or incurs replanting costs. There's a temporary rule for replanting citrus plants after December 22, 2017, and until December 22, 2027, with different rules applying in this case.
Small Business Taxpayer
A small business taxpayer is one whose total gross income over the past three tax years is $27 million or less. This only applies if they're not classified as a tax shelter under section 448(d)(3). You can check for the updated threshold in Rev. Proc. 2021-45 (revised annually).
If you choose to capitalize your expenses, don't reduce your deductions on lines 10 through 32e by the capitalized expenses. Instead, enter the total capitalized amount in parentheses on line 32f (to show it's a negative amount) and write "263A" in the space to the left of the total. You can find more information in the section called "Preproductive Period Expenses."
You might be able to deduct, or subtract, the costs of growing plants that take more than 2 years to mature instead of capitalizing them.
Choosing to Deduct Long-Preproduction Expenses
If it takes more than two years for a plant to grow, you can decide to deduct the costs instead of capitalizing them. But there's a rule: you can't make this choice for the expenses of planting or growing citrus or almond groves within the first four tax years after you planted them. If you decide to deduct these costs, you should apply some special rules which we'll discuss later.
Warning: If you're in a partnership or S corporation, the choice to deduct long-preproduction expenses needs to be made by the individual partner, shareholder, or member. This decision can't be made by tax shelters, farming groups, partnerships, or corporations that are required to use the accrual accounting method under certain IRS sections.
Unless you get permission from the IRS, you must make this decision in the very first year you start a farming business that involves growing something subject to the capitalization rules. Once you make this choice, you can't change your mind without getting permission from the IRS.
Special Rules if You Choose to Deduct Preproductive Expenses for Plants
If you choose to deduct expenses for plants before they produce income:
Prepaid Farm Supplies
If you use the cash accounting method and the cost of your prepaid farm supplies is more than half of your other deductible farm expenses, you might not be able to deduct the entire cost. Prepaid farm supplies include things like feed, seeds, fertilizer, and other farm items that you haven't used or consumed during the year.
These costs also include the expenses for poultry, which you can deduct in a later tax year if you:
If you exceed the 50 percent limit, you can only deduct the prepaid farm supplies that don't go over half of your other deductible farm expenses in the year you paid them. Any extra costs can only be deducted in the year you use or consume the supplies (except for poultry, which follows the rules explained above). For all the details and exceptions to these rules, check out chapter 4 of Pub. 225.
Whether or not the 50 percent limit applies to you, your expenses for livestock feed paid in one year but used in a later year may be subject to the rules explained in the instructions for line 16.
You have two options for deducting vehicle expenses: you can deduct the actual costs of operating your car or truck, or you can use the standard mileage rate. If you used five or more vehicles at the same time for your farming business, like in fleet operations, you must use actual expenses. However, if you previously used the standard mileage rate for a leased vehicle, you can't switch to using actual expenses for that vehicle.
You can use the standard mileage rate for 2023 if:
If you use the standard mileage rate, you should add any parking fees and tolls to this amount and put the total on line 10.
If you use actual expenses:
Remember that if you're claiming any vehicle expenses, whether using actual costs or the standard mileage rate, you'll need to provide the information requested on Form 4562, Part V, and attach it to your tax return. For more information, you can check out chapter 4 of Pub. 463 from the IRS.
You can deduct certain expenses related to conserving your farm land. These expenses are for things like protecting your soil and water, preventing soil erosion, and helping endangered species. They include (but are not limited to) costs for:
But here's the catch: You can only deduct these expenses if they match a plan approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Service or a plan for helping endangered species in your area. If no plan exists, they must match a similar plan from a comparable state agency.
Expenses for draining wetlands or preparing land for certain irrigation systems don't qualify.
Your deduction can't be more than 25 percent of your farming income (except certain gains from selling assets). If your conservation expenses are higher, you can carry the extra amount to future years. Still, each year's deduction can't go over that 25 percent limit.
For more info, check out chapter 5 of Pub. 225 from the IRS.
If you paid someone for using their equipment and doing work for you (like plowing your fields), enter those expenses here. Make sure not to include amounts you paid for renting or leasing equipment that you operated yourself; instead, put those down on line 24a.
This line is all about deducting the cost of things that last a long time, like buildings, machinery, and farm equipment. You can't deduct the cost of your home, furniture, land, animals raised for resale, or items you plan to sell.
There's something called the Section 179 election, which lets you deduct part of the cost of certain items you bought in 2023 for your farming business. It's done using Form 4562.
There's also a special depreciation allowance for certain trees and vines planted or grafted between September 27, 2017, and January 1, 2027. Check the Form 4562 instructions for more info.
If you contribute to programs like accident and health plans, group-term life insurance, or dependent care assistance programs, you can deduct those expenses here. If you paid for dependent care assistance as a self-employed person, use Form 2441 to figure out your deductible contributions.
Contributions for health insurance on behalf of yourself, your spouse, and your dependents may also be deductible on Schedule 1 (Form 1040), line 17. This is even if you don't itemize your deductions. Check the Schedule 1 (Form 1040) instructions for more details.
Make sure to reduce your deduction on line 15 by any credit you might be eligible for, like the small employer health insurance premiums credit (check out Form 8941 and its instructions for this).
When you use the cash accounting method, you can't deduct the cost of feed that your livestock will eat in the future unless the following conditions are met:
If all these conditions are met, you can deduct the prepaid feed in the year you paid for it, as long as it doesn't go over the limit we talked about earlier for prepaid farm supplies. If these conditions don't apply, you can only deduct the prepaid feed in the year your animals actually eat it.
When you're calculating your expenses, don't list the cost of transporting livestock you bought for resale as a separate item under freight expenses. Instead, include these transportation costs in the total cost of the livestock itself.
You can subtract the cost of insurance you purchased for your farm business on this line. Additionally, you can subtract payments made for employee accident and health insurance on line 15. But remember, you can't deduct any money set aside in a reserve for self-insurance or the premiums you paid for a policy that covers your lost earnings from sickness or disability. For more information, refer to chapter 6 of Pub. 535 from the IRS.
Interest allocation rules determine how to treat interest expenses for tax purposes. These rules help you decide where to deduct or capitalize your interest expense on your tax return. This distinction is important because it affects how much interest you can claim as a deduction on Schedule F (Form 1040).
Typically, you categorize your interest expenses based on how you used the loan proceeds. For specific guidance, look to chapter 4 of Pub. 535.
If you paid interest on a debt secured by your main home and used some of the loan proceeds for your farming business, chapter 4 of Pub. 535 provides information on how to calculate the amount to report on lines 21a and 21b.
How to Report it: Before entering any numbers on line 21a or 21b, refer to the Instructions for Form 8990 to determine whether you must restrict your business interest expense or if you can choose not to limit it. If restrictions apply, report only the amount you're permitted to deduct on lines 21a and 21b.
In cases where you are not required to limit your business interest expense, and you hold a mortgage on real property used in your farming business (excluding your main home), you should include the interest paid in 2023 to banks or financial institutions for which you received a Form 1098 (or a similar statement) on line 21a. If you did not receive such a form, record the interest on line 21b.
If you paid more mortgage interest than is indicated on Form 1098 (or a similar statement), check chapter 4 of Pub. 535 to find out if you can deduct the additional interest. If you can, include that amount on line 21a. Remember to attach a statement to your return explaining the difference and write “See attached” next to line 21a.
If you and at least one other person, apart from your spouse in the case of a joint return, were jointly responsible for and paid interest on the mortgage, and the other person received the Form 1098 (or similar statement), report your portion of the interest on line 21b. Attach a statement to your return that includes the name and address of the person who received the Form 1098 (or similar statement), and write “See attached” next to line 21b.
Please note that you should not deduct interest you prepay in 2023 for future years; only include the portion that applies to 2023.
Write down the money you paid for farm labor, but do not include payments made to yourself. You should reduce your deduction by the amounts you've already claimed on the following forms:
When it comes to boarding farm labor, include the cost you incurred, but do not account for the value of any farm products they might have used. Additionally, only report the money you paid to household help for taking care of farm laborers.
This is where you put your deductions for contributions to employee pension, profit-sharing, or annuity plans. If you're also part of this plan as a self-employed person, enter those contributions on Schedule 1 (Form 1040), line 16, not on Schedule F (Form 1040).
You might need to file certain forms related to these retirement plans, even if you're not claiming a deduction for the current year. There are specific forms for different types of plans, and the filing requirement doesn't depend on whether the plan is qualified under the Internal Revenue Code. Failing to file these forms on time can result in a penalty.
Check out Pub. 560 for more information.
If you rented or leased vehicles, machinery, or equipment for your farm business, enter the business portion of your rental cost on line 24a. However, if you leased a vehicle for a period of 30 days or more, there might be a reduction in your deduction due to something called an "inclusion amount." You can find more details on this in the "Leasing a Car" section in chapter 4 of Pub. 463.
On line 24b, put down the amounts you paid to rent or lease other items, like pasture or farmland.
Enter the money you spent on fixing up your farm buildings, machinery, and equipment. These repairs should not be for making your property better or for major renovations. Money spent on major repairs, like replacing a big part or doing major structural work, doesn't count here. That kind of spending is considered an improvement. To learn more, check chapter 4 of Pub. 225.
Don't include repairs or maintenance for your home on this line.
This is where you put the taxes you can deduct. You can include:
You can't include:
On this line, you should put the costs for things like gas, electricity, water, and other utilities that you used for your farming business. Remember, this should only cover the cost of business-related utilities, not personal ones. You can't deduct the main phone line into your home, even if you use it for your farming business. But if you have a second phone line for your business, you can deduct the charges for that line, excluding the basic rate of the first phone line.
Here's where you add up all your other farm-related expenses that you didn't already deduct in different sections of Schedule F (Form 1040). This could include things like advertising and office supplies. However, don't include any fines or penalties you had to pay to the government for breaking the law. You can find more details on business expenses in Pub. 535.
This is also the place to consider a few special deductions:
Excess Business Loss Limitation: Keep in mind that noncorporate taxpayers might face limitations on excess business losses. These limitations are applied after considering at-risk and passive activity loss limits. An excess business loss happens when your total deductions for all your trades or businesses exceed your total gross income and gains from those trades or businesses, plus $270,000 (or $540,000 if you're filing jointly). A "trade or business" includes Schedule F and Schedule C activities, an activity reported on Form 4835, and other business activities reported on Schedule E.
Business gains and losses reported on Form 4797 and Form 8949 are included when calculating excess business losses. This even includes farming losses from casualty losses or losses due to disease or drought. Excess business losses that are not allowed can be carried forward to the following tax year as a net operating loss (NOL). Take a look at Form 461 and its instructions for more information.
If your total expenses from line 32f result in a negative amount, subtract it from the total of lines 10 through 32e. The result should be entered on line 33.
To determine your net profit or loss, you need to consider the at-risk rules and the passive activity loss rules. These rules help make sure your income and losses are correctly accounted for. The amount on line 34 will be your final loss or profit after applying these rules.
Here's how to report your net profit or loss based on your situation:
There is nothing to put down here. This line is “Reserved for future use” by the IRS.
Tip: If your income on line 9 is higher than your expenses on line 33, you don't have to fill out line 36.
In many cases, if you have a loss from your farming activities, and you've put money into the activity where you might not lose it, you need to use Form 6198 to calculate how much of your loss you can actually claim. These "at-risk" rules are there to limit your loss to what you could genuinely lose in the farming activity. Here's the deal:
Check box 36b if there are funds you've invested in this activity that aren't truly at risk. It could be because of the following reasons:
Calculating Your Loss: Before you figure out your loss on line 34, you must decide whether your loss from farming is restricted by the at-risk rules. Here's what you should do based on which box you've checked in box 36:
Important Warning: If you checked box 36b because some of your investment isn't at risk and you didn't attach Form 6198, your return's processing might get delayed.
For more in-depth information, take a look at Pub. 925 and the Instructions for Form 6198. You might also need to refer to Form 461 and its instructions for additional insights.
Using the accrual method for accounting means you report your farm income when you earn it, not when you actually get paid. This method usually requires you to include animals and crops in your records as part of your inventory. But there are some exceptions to this, and you can find more details, methods to change your accounting, and rules about what costs to include in your inventory in Pub. 225. For information about accounting periods (when you start and end your accounting year), check out Pub. 538.
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
If you were involved in a chapter 11 bankruptcy case during 2023, take a look at the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Cases section in the Instructions for Form 1040 (under Income) and the Instructions for Schedule SE (Form 1040).
Refer to the instructions for lines 3a through 5c, mentioned earlier.
For more details, please see Line 8, which we covered earlier.
Depending on your specific situation, you might have to file the following schedules and forms:
Stay Up to Date
To stay up-to-date with any changes related to filing Schedule F (Form 1040) and its instructions, like new legislation enacted after these simplified instructions were published, head to IRS.gov/ScheduleF.
When it comes to taxes, lots of farmers get lost in the weeds. We’re here to help. Take a look at these resources our FarmRaise team put together for producers like you:
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