Losses incurred in continuing trades

By Tolley
Losses incurred in continuing trades

The following Personal Tax guidance note by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Losses incurred in continuing trades
  • Introduction
  • Losses incurred by continuing trades
  • Relief against total income of the year of loss or preceding year
  • Set off of trading losses against chargeable gains
  • Carry forward of trading losses
  • Tax return reporting
  • Class 4 national insurance position
  • Loss relief planning


When asole trader or partnership makes aloss, the trading income assessment (ie taxable profit for the year) is nil. Losses are generally computed in the same way as profits.

The loss relief claim(s) which are available depend on whether the trade has started within the last four years, is acontinuing trade or the trade has ceased.

This guidance note concentrates on claims that can be made for trading losses incurred by ongoing trades (ie trades not in the first four years of trading or in the 12 months to cessation).

For acomparison of the various loss relief claims, see the Table ― trading loss relief summary.

HMRC has published atoolkit entitled Income tax losses , which aims to help reduce errors on tax returns. Use of HMRC’s toolkits should be proof of reasonable care.

Trading loss reliefs are included in the cap on unlimited income tax reliefs (see below).

Simplified cash basis

Unincorporated businesses with turnover of less than £150,000 (or £300,000 for universal credit claimants) can opt to use the simplified cash basis. These turnover thresholds apply from 2017/18 onwards. For the thresholds that applied between 2013/14 and 2016/17, see Simon’s Taxes B2.112.

ITTOIA 2005, ss 31A, 31B

While within the simplified cash basis, trading losses cannot be used against other income. Neither can trading losses be carried back to be utilised against profits from the same trade or against capital gains. Losses can only be carried forward and set against profits from the same trade under ITA 2007, s 83 (see ‘Carry forward of trading losses’ below).

ITA 2007, s 74E
Losses incurred by continuing trades

For continuing trades, losses may be relieved against the

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