Tax Loss Carry Forward

Tax Loss Carryforward Definition

Tax Loss Carryforward is a provision which permits an individual to take forward or say carry over the tax loss to the next year to set off the future profit and any taxpayer be it any individual or a company can claim it to lower down the tax payments in the future.

The tax loss that is carried forward shall be claimed by a business or an individual in order to reduce any tax payments in the future.

Tax Loss Carry Forward

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Type of Tax Loss Carryforward

#1 – Business

They can utilize these losses carryforward provisions against NOL, which stands for net operating loss, capital losses which are more than the capital gains, and certain gains which are earned from the exchange or sale of stock of the small qualified business.

#2 – Individual Taxpayers

They may use these such provisions for many various circumstances, and that information can be extracted from the IRS and from their respective taxing authority of the state. Take an example, if a taxpayer makes excess contributions to a 529 plan of the state, the taxpayer can’t deduct the amount which he has deposited in excess, but the taxpayer shall be able to carry that amount to the future years.

Examples of Tax Loss Carryforward

Example #1

Questa power company, a profit-making company in the town, has been recently affected by the prices of coal due to its huge demand and less supply. Below is the snapshot of the recent monthly income statement and tax payment.

Using the below information, we will calculate the amount of tax loss that the company can carry forward and what is remaining in balance that has to be utilized.

tax loss carry forward example 1.1


Till Feb, the company was making profits and was paying tax at the rate of 30%, but after March month, the company didn’t pay any tax till June as they were incurring losses per below.

tax loss carry forward example 1.2

We can see that from March onwards, the loss was initiated, and the same is getting carried forward until the company starts making a profit, which happens only in June.

Till May month, the company accumulated a loss of $21,000. The same was offset partially by the gain of $5,000. Now the remaining loss to be absorbed in the future is $16,000.

Example #2

One of the famous examples could be President Donald Trump of the US and who is also a businessman. In the year of 2016 while electing for the president of US, the New York Times, a renowned publisher, released tax return of Donald Trump for the year 1995 in which loss of $916 mn was reported that happened in the year 1995, which was carryforward to offset in the future years against the next income.

The losses that were realized capital losses that arrived from the investments that Trump made in airline business ventures, casinos, and the Manhattan property. The same publisher reported that this loss of $916 million would allow Mr. Trump to escape federal tax of approximately $50mn up-to eighteen taxable years.


  • Tax loss carryforwards are beneficial as they create future tax relief for the business or the companies, and hence they are very valuable for them.
  • These losses can be generally carried for seven years per the laws, which again provides relief to companies as. When they make the profit, they won’t be required to pay tax immediately, which ultimately removes pressure from them for cash outflow, and working capital would be managed properly.
  • In some of the cases, the companies acquire another company solely for tax-loss carryforward purposes.


There is no major disadvantage per se for tax loss carryforward. The only thing is it can make the business or the company look like a loss-making company.

Important Points to Note

The following points must be noted before carrying forward the tax loss.


There is one crucial point to note that every country has its own set of rules and regulations that shall govern the set-off and carry forward of the net operating losses for the taxpayers, whether being individual or business. These rules and regulations are not simple, and perhaps they are complex, and they would require careful considerations of every provision, maybe the help of local tax attorneys. E.g., in the United States of America (USA), every state has its own set of rules and regulations which are governing the tax code. 30 states and DC, which conform to the federal tax code of allowing twenty years of Net Operating LossNet Operating LossThe term "net operating loss" refers to an operating loss that occurs when a company's expenses exceed its revenues in a given period and is reflected in the accounting books in the period when the company's allowable tax deductions exceed current taxable more to be carry forward. While Illinois, which allows twelve years of carrying forward and whereas Kansas and Vermont allow for ten years of loss carryforward.

Last but not least, the taxpayer should keep excellent tax records of the claims that he makes in the tax returns.

Recommended Articles

This article has been a guide to Tax Loss Carry Forward. Here we discuss its definition and the two sub-major categories which can claim tax loss carry forward. Here we also discuss its advantages and disadvantages along with some examples. You can learn more about financing from the following articles –