Section 71 of the Income Tax Act: Set off of losses


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Set off of losses

Set off of losses means adjusting the losses against the profit or income of that particular year. Losses that are not set off against income in the same year can be carried forward to the subsequent years for set off against income of those years. A set-off could be an intra-head set-off or an inter-head set-off.

a. An intra-head set-off

b. An inter-head set-off

a. Intra-head Set Off

The losses from one source of income can be set off against income from another source under the same head of income.

For eg: Loss from Business A can be set off against profit from Business B, where Business A is one source and Business B is another source and the common head of income is “Business”.

Exceptions to an intra-head set off:

1. Losses from a Speculative business will only be set off against the profit of the speculative business. One cannot adjust the losses of speculative business with the income from any other business or profession.

2. Loss from an activity of owning and maintaining race-horses will be set off only against the profit from an activity of owning and maintaining race-horses.

3. Long-term capital loss will only be adjusted towards long-term capital gains. However, a short-term capital loss can be set off against both long-term capital gains and short-term capital gain.

4. Losses from a specified business will be set off only against profit of specified businesses. But the losses from any other businesses or profession can be set off against profits from the specified businesses.

b. Inter-head Set Off

After the intra-head adjustments, the taxpayers can set off remaining losses against income from other heads.

Eg. Loss from house property can be set off against salary income

Given below are few more such instances of an inter-head set off of losses:

1. Loss from House property can be set off against income under any head

2. Business loss other than speculative business can be set off against any head of income except except income from salary.

One needs to also note that the following losses can’t be set off against any other head of income:

a. Speculative Business loss

b. Specified business loss

c. Capital Losses

d. Losses from an activity of owning and maintaining race-horses

Section 71 of the Income Tax Act: Set off of loss from one head against income from another:

(1) Where in respect of any assessment year the net result of the computation under any head of income, other than “Capital gains”, is a loss and the assessee has no income under the head “Capital gains”, he shall, subject to the provisions of this Chapter, be entitled to have the amount of such loss set off against his income, if any, assessable for that assessment year under any other head.

(2) Where in respect of any assessment year, the net result of the computation under any head of income, other than “Capital gains”, is a loss and the assessee has income assessable under the head “Capital gains”, such loss may, subject to the provisions of this Chapter, be set off against his income, if any, assessable for that assessment year under any head of income including the head “Capital gains” (whether relating to short-term capital assets or any other capital assets).

(2A) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1) or sub-section (2), where in respect of any assessment year, the net result of the computation under the head “Profits and gains of business or profession” is a loss and the assessee has income assessable under the head “Salaries”, the assessee shall not be entitled to have such loss set off against such income.

(3) Where in respect of any assessment year, the net result of the computation under the head “Capital gains” is a loss and the assessee has income assessable under any other head of income, the assessee shall not be entitled to have such loss set off against income under the other head.

(3A) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1) or sub-section (2), where in respect of any assessment year, the net result of the computation under the head “Income from house property” is a loss and the assessee has income assessable under any other head of income, the assessee shall not be entitled to set off such loss, to the extent the amount of the loss exceeds two lakh rupees, against income under the other head.

(4) Where the net result of the computation under the head “Income from house property” is a loss, in respect of the assessment years commencing on the 1st day of April, 1995 and the 1st day of April, 1996, such loss shall be first set off under sub-sections (1) and (2) and thereafter the loss referred to in section 71A shall be set off in the relevant assessment year in accordance with the provisions of that section.


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