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Net operating loss (NOL) carryback periods for individual returns

SOLVEDby IntuitLacerte Tax46Updated July 13, 2022

For NOL's arising in 2021:

For most taxpayers, NOLs arising in tax years ending after 2020 can only be carried forward. See Net operating losses for more information.

For NOL's arising in tax year 2018, 2019 or 2020:

In 2020, the CARES Act changed the rules for individual NOL carrybacks. Taxpayers may carryback the entire amount of the NOL from tax years 2018, 2019, and 2020 for 5 years. They can also carry forward any remaining NOL indefinitely until it's used up. Refer to IRS Pub. 536 for more information on NOL carrybacks.

You can choose to waive the carryback period by attaching a section 172(b) statement to your return. The NOL will carry forward indefinitely until it’s fully absorbed.

The carryback period for a farming losses is 5 years. However, in 2021, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) gave taxpayers with farming losses the option to elect out of the special 5-year NOL carryback tax treatment for 2018, 2019, and 2020. 

 

In 2020, the CARES Act also gave taxpayers with farming losses who previously elected to use the 2-year carryback period to retain it.  

A farming loss is the smaller of:

  • The amount that would be the NOL for that tax year if only income and deductions attributed to the farming business were taken into account, or
  • The NOL for the tax year.

If you need assistance entering NOL carrybacks in Lacerte, check out this article for instructions.

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