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Guidance on NOL Carryback Under CARES Act

The IRS has issued guidance providing administrative relief under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) for taxpayers with net operating losses (NOLs).

The CARES Act provides a five-year carryback for NOLs arising in tax years beginning in 2018, 2019, and 2020. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act had eliminated carryback periods effective for tax years ending after 2017. Some taxpayers have filed 2018 and 2019 returns without using five-year carryback period.

The relief:

  • provides procedures for waiving the carryback period in the case of an NOL arising in a tax year beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2021; and
  • describes how taxpayers with NOLs arising in tax years 2018, 2019, or 2020 can elect to either waive the carryback period for those losses entirely or to exclude from the carryback period for those losses any years in which the taxpayer has an inclusion in income as a result of the transition tax under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 965(a).

Six-Month Extension for Filing Refund Claims

Taxpayers are granted an extension of time to file refund applications on Form 1045 (individuals, estates, and trusts) or Form 1139 (corporations) with respect to the carryback of an NOL that arose in any tax year that began during calendar year 2018 and that ended on or before June 30, 2019.

2017/2018 Fiscal-Year Taxpayers

Relief is also provided for 2017/2018 fiscal year taxpayers who failed to claim an NOL carryback due to a drafting error in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that provided the termination of two-year NOL carryback period applied to NOLs arising in tax years ending after 2017. The CARES Act corrects the effective date error by providing that the termination applies to tax years beginning after 2017. This makes these taxpayers eligible to claim an NOL carryback. The CARES Act allows these taxpayers to file a late application for a tentative refund. An application for a tentative refund is considered timely if filed by July 25, 2020.

The guidance also explains how 2017/2018 fiscal year taxpayers may waive the carryback period, reduce the carryback period (if it is longer than the standard two-year carryback), or revoke an election to waive a carryback period for a tax year that began before January 1, 2018, and ended after December 31, 2017.

For more information about this article, please contact our tax professionals at or toll free at 844.4WINDES (844.494.6337).
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