- Publication 536 - Introductory Material
- Future Developments
- Useful Items - You may want to see:
- Publication 536 - Main Contents
- NOL Steps
- How To Figure an NOL
- Worksheet 1. Figuring Your NOL.
- Nonbusiness capital losses (line 2).
- Nonbusiness deductions (line 6).
- Nonbusiness income (line 7).
- Adjustment for section 1202 exclusion (line 17).
- Adjustments for capital losses (lines 19–22).
- Domestic production activities deduction (line 23).
- NOLs from other years (line 24).
- Worksheet 1. Figuring Your NOL Example
- When To Use an NOL
- How To Claim an NOL Deduction
- NOL exceeding 80% of taxable income.
- Deducting a Carryback
- Deducting a Carryforward
- Change in Marital Status
- Change in Filing Status
- How To Figure an NOL Carryover
- NOL Carryover From 2019 to 2020
- Excess Business Loss
- How To Get Tax Help
- Preparing and filing your tax return.
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- The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Is Here To Help You
- Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs)
- Publication 536 - Additional Material
Publication 536 (2019), Net Operating Losses (NOLs) for Individuals, Estates, and Trusts
For use in preparing 2019 Returns
For the latest information about developments related to Pub. 536, such as legislation enacted after it was published, go to IRS.gov/Pub536.
NOL carryback eliminated. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), section 13302, eliminated the option for most taxpayers to carry back a net operating loss (NOL). Most taxpayers can only carry NOLs arising from tax years ending after 2017 to a later year. An exception applies to certain farming losses. See section 172(b) or Pub. 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide, for more information.
NOL limitation. The NOL deduction cannot exceed 80% of taxable income (determined without any NOL deduction) for losses arising in tax years beginning after 2017. For more information, see the Instructions for Form 1045.
Annual losses limited. The TCJA, section 11012, amended section 461 to limit the amount of losses from the trades or businesses of noncorporate taxpayers that the taxpayer can claim each year. Taxpayers can’t deduct overall net business losses that are more than a threshold amount in the current year. The amount of the excess business loss is treated as an NOL carryover in the subsequent year. Use Form 461 to figure the excess business loss.
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If your deductions for the year are more than your income for the year, you may have a net operating loss (NOL). An NOL year is the year in which an NOL occurs. You can use an NOL by deducting it from your income in another year or years.
To have an NOL, your loss must generally be caused by deductions from your:
Trade or business,
Work as an employee (although not deductible for most taxpayers for 2018 through 2025),
Casualty and theft losses resulting from a federally declared disaster,
Moving expenses (although not deductible for most taxpayers for 2018 through 2025), or
A loss from operating a business is the most common reason for an NOL.
Partnerships and S corporations generally cannot use an NOL. However, partners or shareholders can use their separate shares of the partnership's or S corporation's business income and business deductions to figure their individual NOLs.
Form (and Instructions)
1040-X Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
1045 Application for Tentative Refund
461 Limitation on Business Losses
See How To Get Tax Help at the end of this publication for information about getting these forms.
If your deductions for the year are more than your income for the year, you may have an NOL.
There are rules that limit what you can deduct when figuring an NOL. In general, the following items are not allowed when figuring an NOL.
Capital losses in excess of capital gains.
The section 1202 exclusion of the gain from the sale or exchange of qualified small business stock.
Nonbusiness deductions in excess of nonbusiness income.
The NOL deduction.
The section 199A deduction for qualified business income.
The section 199 deduction for income attributable to domestic production activities.
The following example describes how to figure an NOL.
Glenn Johnson is in the retail record business. He is single and has the following income and deductions on his Form 1040 for 2019.
|Wages from part-time job||$1,225|
|Interest on savings||425|
|Net long-term capital gain on sale of real estate used in business||2,000|
|Glenn's total income||$3,650|
|Net loss from business (gross income of $67,000 minus expenses of $72,000)||$5,000|
|Net short-term capital loss
on sale of stock
|Glenn's total deductions||$18,200|
Glenn's deductions exceed his income by $14,550 ($18,200 − $3,650). However, to figure whether he has an NOL, certain deductions are not allowed. He uses Worksheet 1 to figure his NOL.
The following items are not allowed on Worksheet 1.
|Nonbusiness net short-term capital loss||$1,000|
(standard deduction, $12,200) minus
nonbusiness income (interest, $425)
|Total adjustments to net loss||$12,775|
Therefore, Glenn's NOL for 2019 is figured as follows.
|Glenn's total 2019 income||$3,650|
|Glenn's original 2019 total deductions||$18,200|
|Reduced by the disallowed items||− 12,775||− 5,425|
|Glenn's NOL for 2019||$1,775|
Generally, if you have an NOL for a tax year ending in 2019, you must carry the loss forward to future years. You may carry the losses forward indefinitely.
Farming losses, defined next, qualify for a 2-year carryback period. Only the farming loss part of an NOL can be carried back 2 years.
You can choose not to carry back your farming loss. If you make this choice, then you can carry your NOL (including the part that is attributable to farming) forward indefinitely until it is fully absorbed.
To make this choice, attach a statement to your original return filed by the due date (including extensions) for the NOL year. This statement must show that you are choosing to waive the carryback period under section 172(b).
If you filed your original return on time but did not file the statement with it, you can make this choice on an amended return filed within 6 months of the due date of the return (excluding extensions). Attach a statement to your amended return, and write "Filed pursuant to section 301.9100-2" at the top of the statement.
Once you choose to waive the carryback period, it generally is irrevocable. If you choose to waive the carryback period for more than one NOL, you must make a separate choice and attach a separate statement for each NOL year.
If you do not file this statement on time, you cannot waive the carryback period.
If you choose to carry back a farming loss, you must first carry the entire farming loss to the earliest carryback year. If the farming loss is not used up, you can carry the rest to the next earliest carryback year, and so on.
If you waive the carryback period or do not use up all of the farming loss in the carryback period, you will have an NOL that can be carried forward indefinitely until used up. This NOL will be equal to the sum of what remains of the farming loss, plus any nonfarm NOL, plus any excess business loss for the NOL year (see Excess Business Loss , later). Start by carrying the NOL to the first tax year after the NOL year. If you do not use it up, carry the unused part to the next year. Continue to carry any unused part of the NOL forward until the NOL is used up.
You started your farming business as a sole proprietor in 2019 and had a $42,000 NOL for the year. No part of the NOL is from another business activity. You begin using your NOL in 2017, the second year before the NOL year, as shown in the following chart.
|2019 (NOL year)|
If your loss were larger, you could carry it forward indefinitely together with any excess business losses (see Excess Business Loss , later) and any NOL from a nonfarm activity.
You started your farming business as a sole proprietor in 2019 and had a $42,000 NOL for the year. No part of this NOL is from another business activity. In earlier years, you operated a nonfarming business and had taxable income of $2,000 in 2017 and $5,000 in 2018. The $42,000 farming loss is eligible for the 2-year carryback (subject to limitations), as shown in the following chart. There are no NOL carryovers or carrybacks to 2017 and 2018 other than the 2019 NOL. The deduction of the 2019 NOL in 2017 is limited to $1,600. This is the lesser of the 2019 NOL carryback to 2017 ($42,000) or 80% of 2017 taxable income of $2,000 before taking into account any NOL deduction for 2017. The amount of the 2019 NOL that is deductible in 2018 is limited to $4,000. This is the lesser of the 2019 NOL carryback to 2018 ($40,400) or 80% of 2018 taxable income of $5,000 before taking into account any NOL deduction for 2018.
|Year||80% of Taxable
|2019 (NOL year)|
If you have not already carried the NOL to an earlier year, your NOL deduction for the carryover year is equal to the sum of:
Any unused NOLs from tax years beginning before 2018; plus
The lesser of:
The NOL from the tax year beginning after 2017, which includes any part of the NOL attributable to an excess business loss; or
80% of taxable income for the carryover year determined before any NOL deduction.
Only NOLs from tax years beginning after 2017 are subject to the 80%-of-taxable-income limit. However, to determine what 80% of taxable income would be without taking into account any NOL deduction, exclude any NOL carryovers from a tax year beginning after 2017 as well as any NOL carryovers from tax years beginning before 2018.
The total amount of any NOL deduction for a tax year that is attributable to NOLs from tax years beginning after 2017 can't exceed 80% of taxable income for the tax year determined before any NOL deduction.
If you carry back your NOL, you can use either Form 1045 or Form 1040-X. You can get your refund faster by using Form 1045, but you have a shorter time to file it. You can use Form 1045 to apply an NOL to all carryback years. If you use Form 1040-X, you must use a separate Form 1040-X for each carryback year to which you apply the NOL.
Estates and trusts that do not file Form 1045 must file an amended Form 1041 (instead of Form 1040-X) for each carryback year to which NOLs are applied. Use a copy of the appropriate year's Form 1041, check the "Net operating loss carryback" box, and follow the Form 1041 instructions for amended returns. Include the NOL deduction with other deductions not subject to the 2% limit (line 15a). Also, see the special procedures for filing an amended return due to an NOL carryback, explained under Form 1040-X , later.
An individual taxpayer operates a farming business and incurs an NOL of $50,000 for 2019. $25,000 of the NOL is from nonfarming business. The taxpayer can carryback the $25,000 farming loss 2 years; the $25,000 nonfarming loss is not eligible for carryback but is carried forward to 2020. The deduction of the 2019 farming loss in 2017 is limited to 80% of taxable income (determined without regard to any NOL deduction in 2017). No other NOLs are used in 2017.
|Total 2019 NOL||$50,000|
|2019 NOL subject to carryback||$25,000 (farming loss)|
|2017 taxable income without any NOL deduction||$100,000|
|80% limitation of 2017 taxable income||$80,000|
|2017 NOL deduction||$25,000 (the lesser of the 80% taxable income limitation or the NOL carryback to 2017 from 2019)|
|2019 NOL carryforward to 2020||$25,000 (nonfarming loss)|
An individual taxpayer operates a farming business and incurs an NOL of $150,000 for 2019. $25,000 of the NOL is from a nonfarming business. The $125,000 farming loss is eligible for the 2-year carryback (subject to the limitations). The $25,000 nonfarming loss is not eligible for carryback but is carried forward to 2020. The deduction of the 2019 NOL in 2017 is limited to 80% of the 2017 taxable income of $100,000 (determined without regard to any NOL deduction). In addition, the taxpayer has an NOL carryover from 2016 to 2017 of $40,000. The 2016 NOL is not subject to the 80%-of-taxable-income limit. The taxpayer's total NOL deduction for 2017 is $120,000 ($80,000 plus $40,000). However, only $100,000 of this NOL deduction is used to reduce 2017 taxable income to zero. (The $40,000 NOL from 2016 reduces taxable income to $60,000, and $60,000 of the farming loss from 2019 is used to reduce taxable income to zero). The taxpayer's taxable income for 2018 (determined without regard to any NOL deduction) is zero. No NOLs are used in 2018. The total NOL carryover to 2020 is $90,000 ($25,000 nonfarming loss and $65,000 of unused 2019 farming loss). The following chart summarizes this example.
|Total 2019 NOL||$150,000|
|2019 NOL eligible for carryback||$125,000 (farming loss)|
|2017 taxable income without any NOL deduction||$100,000|
|2018 taxable income without any NOL deduction||$0|
|NOL carryforward from 2016||$40,000|
|80% limitation of 2017 taxable income||$80,000|
|2017 taxable income after 2016 NOL carryover is used||$60,000|
|2017 NOL deduction||$120,000 ($40,000 from 2016 carryover + $80,000 from 2019 farm loss), although only $100,000 is used|
|2019 carryforward to 2020||$90,000 ($65,000 from unused farm loss + $25,000 from 2019 nonfarming loss)|
If you carry forward your NOL to a tax year after the NOL year, list your NOL deduction as a negative figure on the "Other income" line of Schedule 1 (Form 1040 or 1040-SR) or Form 1040-NR (line 21 for 2019). Estates and trusts, include an NOL deduction on Form 1041, line 15b, for 2019.
You must attach a statement that shows all the important facts about the NOL. Your statement should include a computation showing how you figured the NOL deduction. If you deduct more than one NOL in the same year, your statement must cover each of them.
If you and your spouse were not married to each other in all years involved in figuring NOL carrybacks and carryovers, only the spouse who had the loss can take the NOL deduction. If you file a joint return, the NOL deduction is limited to the income of that spouse.
For example, if your marital status changes because of death or divorce, and in a later year you have an NOL, you can carry back that loss only to the part of the income reported on the joint return (filed with your former spouse) that was related to your taxable income. After you deduct the NOL in the carryback year, the joint rates apply to the resulting taxable income.
If you and your spouse were married and filed a joint return for each year involved in figuring NOL carrybacks and carryovers, figure the NOL deduction on a joint return as you would for an individual. However, treat the NOL deduction as a joint NOL.
If you and your spouse were married and filed separate returns for each year involved in figuring NOL carrybacks and carryovers, the spouse who sustained the loss may take the NOL deduction on a separate return.
Special rules apply for figuring the NOL carrybacks and carryovers of married people whose filing status changes for any tax year involved in figuring an NOL carryback or carryover.
If your NOL is more than 80% of your taxable income (100% for losses arising in tax years beginning before 2018) for the year to which you carry it (figured before deducting any NOL), you may have an NOL carryover or carryback to the next tax year. You must make certain modifications to your taxable income to determine how much NOL you will use up in the year and how much you can carry to the next tax year. The amount you can carry to the next tax year generally is the excess of the amount of your NOL carried to the tax year over your modified taxable income for the carryback or carryforward year. However, for NOLs arising in tax years beginning after 2017, if the deductible amount of the NOL is less than your modified taxable income because of the 80%-of-taxable-income limit, the amount of your NOL used in that year is no more than the deductible amount of the NOL. In that case, your NOL carryover or carryback to the next tax year would be the excess of the NOL carried to the tax year over the amount of the NOL deducted. If your NOL deduction includes more than one NOL, determine how much of each NOL is used in the tax year in the same order in which you incurred them starting with the earliest.
If you had an NOL deduction carried forward from a year before 2018 that resulted in your having taxable income on your 2019 return of zero (or less than zero, if an estate or trust), complete Worksheet 2 on the next page. It will help you figure your NOL to carry to 2020. Keep the worksheet for your records.
For NOL year 2019, complete Worksheet 3 to figure the carryover from 2019. Keep the worksheet for your records.
At the top of the worksheet, enter the NOL year for which you are figuring the carryover.
Your taxable income for 2019 is $5,000 without your $9,000 NOL deduction. Your NOL deduction includes a $2,000 carryover from 2017 and a $7,000 carryover from 2018. The deduction of the $7,000 NOL carryover from 2018 is limited to $4,000, which is 80% of your 2019 taxable income of $5,000 (determined without any NOL deduction). Subtract your 2017 NOL of $2,000 from $5,000. This gives you taxable income of $3,000. Your 2017 NOL is now completely used up. Subtract your $4,000 2018 NOL from $3,000. This gives you taxable income of ($1,000). You now complete the worksheet for your 2018 NOL. Your NOL carryover to 2020 is the unused part of your 2018 NOL from line 10 of the worksheet.
Worksheet 2. Worksheet To Figure NOL Carryover From 2019 to 2020 (For an NOL Carryforward From a Year Before 2018 (When 2018 Is an Intervening Year))
For Use by Individuals, Estates, and Trusts (Keep for your records.)
See the Worksheet 2 instructions under NOL Carryover From 2019 to 2020, earlier.
|NOL Year __________|
|USE YOUR 2019 FORM 1040, 1040-SR, 1040-NR, OR 1041 TO COMPLETE THIS WORKSHEET:|
|1.||Enter as a positive number your NOL deduction for the NOL year entered above from Schedule 1 (Form 1040 or 1040-SR) or Form 1040-NR, line 21; or Form 1041, line 15b||__________|
|2.||Enter your taxable income without the NOL deduction for 2019. See instructions||__________|
|3.||Enter as a positive number any net capital loss deduction||__________|
|4.||Enter as a positive number any gain excluded on the sale or exchange of qualified small business stock||__________|
|5.||Enter the amount of any domestic production activities deduction||__________|
|6.||Enter as a positive number any qualified business income deduction||__________|
|7.||Enter any adjustments to your adjusted gross income. See instructions||__________|
|8.||Enter any adjustments to your itemized deductions from line 27 below. See instructions||__________|
|9.||Modified taxable income. Combine lines 2 through 8. Enter the result (but not less than zero)||__________|
|10.||NOL carryover to 2020. Subtract line 9 from line 1. Enter the result (but not less than zero) here and on the "Other income" line of Schedule 1 (Form 1040 or 1040-SR) or Form 1040-NR (or the line on Form 1041 for other deductions) in 2020||__________|
|ADJUSTMENTS TO ITEMIZED DEDUCTIONS (INDIVIDUALS ONLY):|
|11.||Enter your adjusted gross income without the NOL deduction for the NOL year entered above or later years. See instructions||__________|
|12.||Combine lines 3 through 7 above||__________|
|13.||Modified adjusted gross income. Combine lines 11 and 12 above||__________|
|ADJUSTMENT TO MEDICAL EXPENSES:|
|14.||Enter your medical expenses from Schedule A (Form 1040 or 1040-SR), line 4||__________|
|15.||Enter your medical expenses from Schedule A (Form 1040 or 1040-SR), line 1||__________|
|16.||Multiply line 13 above by 7.5% (0.075)||__________|
|17.||Subtract line 16 from line 15. Enter the result (but not less than zero)||__________|
|18.||Subtract line 17 from line 14||__________|
|ADJUSTMENT TO CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS:|
|19.||Enter your charitable contributions deductions from Schedule A (Form 1040 or 1040-SR), line 14; or Schedule A (Form 1040-NR), line 5||__________|
|20.||Refigure your charitable contributions deduction using line 13 above as your adjusted gross income. See instructions||__________|
|21.||Subtract line 20 from line 19||__________|
|ADJUSTMENT TO CASUALTY AND THEFT LOSSES:|
|22.||Enter your casualty and theft losses from Form 4684, line 18||__________|
|23.||Enter your casualty and theft losses from Form 4684, line 16||__________|
|24.||Multiply line 13 above by 10% (0.10)||__________|
|25.||Subtract line 24 from line 23. Enter the result (but not less than zero)||__________|
|26.||Subtract line 25 from line 22||__________|
|27.||Combine lines 18, 21, and 26, and enter the result here and on line 8||__________|
Use Worksheet 2 to figure your NOL carryover(s) for NOL years before 2018.
For Use by Individuals, Estates, and Trusts (Keep for your records.)
See the Worksheet 3 instructions under NOL Carryover From 2019 to 2020, earlier.
|1.||Enter the amount from Worksheet 1, line 25, if less than zero||1.||_____|
|2.||Portion of line 1 that is a farming loss that was carried back and used in 2017 or 2018. Enter as a positive number||2.||_____|
|3.||Excess business loss from Form 461, line 16. Enter as a negative number||3.||_____|
|4.||Combine lines 1 through 3. This is your NOL to carry over to 2020||4.||_____|
Noncorporate taxpayers may be subject to excess business loss limitations. The at-risk limits and the passive activity limits are applied before figuring the amount of any excess business loss. An excess business loss is the amount by which the total deductions attributable to all of your trades or businesses exceed your total gross income and gains attributable to those trades or businesses plus $255,000 (or $510,000 in the case of a joint return). A “trade or business” includes, but is not limited to, Schedule C and Schedule F activities, the activity of being an employee, and certain activities reported on Schedule E. (In the case of a partnership or S corporation, although the limitation is applied at the partner or shareholder level, the trade or business determination is made at that entity’s level.) Business gains and losses reported on Schedule D and Form 4797 are included in the excess business loss calculation. Excess business losses that are disallowed are treated as an NOL carryover to the following tax year. See Form 461 and its instructions for details. For application of these rules to farmers, see also Pub. 225 and the Instructions for Schedule F (Form 1040 or 1040-SR).
For the year 2019, an individual unmarried taxpayer operates a Schedule C business and incurs a loss of $1 million. The taxpayer completes Form 461 and determines that he has incurred an excess business loss of $745,000. The taxpayer reports the excess business loss as a positive number on Schedule 1 (Form 1040 or 1040-SR), line 8—effectively offsetting part of the loss claimed on Schedule C. This excess business loss of $745,000 will be treated as an NOL carryover to 2020. The taxpayer must then complete Worksheet 3 above to figure the total NOL carryover from 2019 to 2020.
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The Taxpayer Bill of Rights describes 10 basic rights that all taxpayers have when dealing with the IRS. Go to TaxpayerAdvocate.IRS.gov to help you understand what these rights mean to you and how they apply. These are your rights. Know them. Use them.
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- Assistance (see Tax help)
- Farming business, Farming business.
- Farming loss, Farming loss.
- Figuring an NOL
- Capital losses, Adjustments for capital losses (lines 19–22).
- Carryover, How To Figure an NOL Carryover
- NOLs from other years, NOLs from other years (line 24).
- Nonbusiness deductions, Nonbusiness deductions (line 6).
- Nonbusiness income, Nonbusiness income (line 7).
- Worksheet 1. Figuring Your NOL, Worksheet 1. Figuring Your NOL.
- Filing status, change in, Change in Filing Status
- Form 1045, Schedule B, Form 1045, Schedule B.
- Forms and schedules
- Future developments, Future Developments
- Identity theft, Resolving tax-related identity theft issues.
- Publications (see Tax help)
- Refiguring tax, Refiguring your tax.
- Steps in figuring NOL, NOL Steps
- Tax help, How To Get Tax Help
- Waiving the carryback period, Waiving the Carryback Period
- What’s New, Reminder
- When to use an NOL, When To Use an NOL
- Worksheet 2
- Carryover from 2019 to 2020 for NOL Year Before 2018, Worksheet 2. Worksheet To Figure NOL Carryover From 2019 to 2020 (For an NOL Carryforward From a Year Before 2018 (When 2018 Is an Intervening Year))
- Worksheet 3
- Carryover from 2019 to 2020 for NOL Year 2019, Worksheet 3. Worksheet for NOL Carryover For 2019 to 2020 (For NOL Year 2019)