How to calculate Net Operating Losses (NOL) on your 1120 returns – Are you Confused?

NOL Computation for 1120s

The tax code is convoluted and the IRS has been making it more complicated with the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. If you are confused about how to calculate Net operating Losses on your 2021 1120 return, then you aren’t alone. It’s complicated enough to make most tax professionals run for cover. If you’re tired of the headaches, then consider using a tax service like SandMartin, to help you file your tax return.

What is NOL?

Net operating loss is the part of your business income that is subtracted from the gross business income. Net operating losses are used as deductions against your other income. The IRS allows you to carry forward your net operating loss for indefinite period and can use them to offset your profits. The net operating loss deduction is limited to the amount that it reduces your taxable income. Use the NOL deduction to reduce your taxable income to zero for the year it applies. You can carry any unused part of the NOL to other years. If your NOL is more than your taxable income for the year, you can carry the unused part to other years. You deduct it from your taxable income in those years.

How to deduct NOL for 2021 Tax year on 1120 return?

Tax year beginning after 2020

The following rules apply to any NOL deduction for a tax year beginning after 2020.

  • An NOL from a tax year beginning after 2017 may offset up to 80% of taxable income.
  • NOLs from a tax year beginning before 2018. An NOL arising prior to 2018 is carried forward only 20 years and must be tracked separately from NOLs arising in later tax years.


For losses that occur in tax year beginning after 2020, the 2-year NOL carryback applies only to farming losses and losses from insurance companies, other than insurance companies. The entire NOL must be carried to earliest possible year in which taxable income is generated. The NOL carryback period of all other corporations is eliminated after 2020.

NOL carryforward:

Generally, NOLs must be carried forward to future years. The corporation may carry the losses forward indefinitely. Special rule may apply to certain farming losses and NOLs of insurance companies other than life insurance companies. See NOL carryback above.

Reach out to experts