Benefiting from Business Losses

If your business has suffered losses, make sure you take advantage of every allowable deduction.

Net operating losses (NOLs) are generated when a business's deductions for the tax year are more than its income. NOLs may be carried back 2 years to obtain a current refund and then carried forward for up to 20 years.

Alternately, you may waive the carryback and carry all loss forward. Foregoing the carryback period could be beneficial if your marginal tax rate in the carryback years was unusually low.

Corporate capital losses are also currently deductible but only to the extent of capital gains. A 3-year carry-back and a 5-year carry-forward period apply.

If your business is not incorporated or operates as a partnership, S corporation, or LLC, you may deduct business losses on your personal tax return. But, losses may be limited because of the at-risk or passive activity loss rules. Keep in mind that you can only deduct your share of losses to the extent that you have sufficient income tax basis for your investment.

Also take advantage of other possible loss deductions. You may deduct all or some bad business debts as ordinary losses when your good faith collection efforts are unsuccessful. Inventory losses, casualty and theft losses (to the extent not covered by insurance), and losses on the sale of business assets may also be deductible.