What is Net Operating Loss (NOL)?
How Does Net Operating Loss (NOL) Work?
Net operating losses can be used to reduce future tax payments. For example, let's assume Company XYZ has taxable income of $1,000,000 and tax deductions of $1,300,000. Its net operating loss is $1,000,000 - $1,300,000 = - $300,000.
Company XYZ will probably not have to pay taxes that year (because it didn't have any taxable income). But let's assume that next year, Company XYZ makes a lot more money and records $500,000 of taxable income.
If Company XYZ is taxed at a corporate tax rate of 40%, it would need to pay $500,000 x 40% = $200,000 in taxes. But because it incurred an NOL last year, it can apply that NOL to this year's tax bill, reducing it significantly (or even to $0, depending on the jurisdiction Company XYZ is in). Company XYZ could also carry the NOL "back" and apply it against taxable income in preceding years.
Why Does Net Operating Loss (NOL) Matter?
NOLs are important because they create future tax relief for companies. The general idea is that when a firm makes money, it pays taxes; when it doesn't make money, it can get some relief. As a result, NOLs in and of themselves are valuable assets. In fact, sometimes companies purchase other companies solely for their NOLs.
The laws on applying NOLs vary by state, but usually an NOL from the last two or three years can be applied up to 20 years in the future, at which point it will expire. There are rules and exceptions for almost any circumstance, so it's best to check with the IRS or a qualified tax accountant when calculating and applying NOLs.
Personalized Financial Plans for an Uncertain Market
In today’s uncertain market, investors are looking for answers to help them grow and protect their savings. So we partnered with Vanguard Advisers -- one of the most trusted names in finance -- to offer you a financial plan built to withstand a variety of market and economic conditions. A Vanguard advisor will craft your customized plan and then manage your savings, giving you more confidence to help you meet your goals. Click here to get started.
Read This Next
Warren Buffett is quick to remind investors that derivatives have...Read More →
Many of us invest for one reason: to build a big enough nest egg for retirement. Good old-fashioned fund picking is the preferred route for many 401k and...Read More →
As a financial planner, I am all about sharing your financial success. However, if one more person walks into my office asking to buy stock...Read More →