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  • Losses

    If you make a tax loss in an income year you can generally carry it forward and deduct it in future years against income for tax purposes.

    What is a tax loss?

    You generally make a tax loss when the total deductions you can claim for an income year exceed your assessable and net exempt income for the year. Certain deductions cannot be used to contribute to a loss. A tax loss is different from a capital loss. Conditions differ for Australians with worldwide income and foreign residents with Australian income.

    How individuals utilise tax losses

    Individuals, both those in business (sole traders and partners) and those not in business, can generally carry forward a tax loss indefinitely, but must utilise a tax loss at the first opportunity. Individuals may have to treat losses from non-business activities (such as investments) and business activities separately.

    How trusts utilise tax losses

    If you operate your business as a trust and you incur a tax loss, you can generally carry forward a tax loss indefinitely, but must utilise a tax loss at the first opportunity. You cannot distribute the loss to the trust's beneficiaries.

    How companies use tax losses

    Companies can carry a tax loss forward and use it in a future income year. For the 2012–13 income year some companies could carry a loss back and claim it against a tax liability from a previous year. Eligibility requirements apply.

    Designated infrastructure project entities

    Companies and fixed trusts carrying out part or all of a designated infrastructure project can, under certain conditions, uplift their tax losses by the long-term bond rate. These entities are also exempt from the company continuity of ownership and same business tests and the equivalent tests that apply to claiming trust losses. 

    Record keeping and reporting

    Generally, you must keep proper records relating to your tax affairs for at least five years after preparing or obtaining them, or after you completed the relevant transactions or acts, whichever is later. If you carry forward a tax loss, you may have to keep records for longer.

  • Last modified: 09 Oct 2014QC 23592