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Never say never... Never say NO way, and never listen to someone who advises you to pass up a legitimate claim because you lack "proof". You CAN and you SHOULD come up with a reasonable estimate, as noted in Couzens last paragraph. You can get an accurate history of stock prices and splits from the company and/or the library or from a web search. Then you can assume a some rate of purchase over the years (constant dollars or constant share quantities or?). You can be aggressive or conservative as you choose. But if you don't choose, you lose. So go for it; the worst you have is the rather remote chance of a negotiation at some future date. If you do your homework, you have a good position from which to negotiate.

As to the premise that the broker is not responsible, tell me please for what are we paying a commission? Virtually no one holds stock cirtificates anymore. If you purchase stocks from the broker who later sells them for you, it is absolutely reasonable to hold him responsible for providing that information (as many brokerages do) along with the 1099B. If you transfer shares (or your great grandmother's cirtificates) into a brokerage account, it is also absolutely reasonable to ask the broker to establish a basis at the time of transfer and to then provide that info along with the 1099B. The IRS could and should require that information on the 1099B.
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