Non commercial losses

A non commercial loss refers to a loss that comes from a business that is not very profitable in terms of money or assets as of now for an individual or in a partnership. This can be a business that just started off or has not made significant profits since the term of a last few years. In this case, any loss made can be deferred by the individual until the same business makes a profit, or can be offset against the other incomes that is earned by the individual. This needs to be analyzed as per a few tests that have been described further.

The income requirement

When operating any business at a loss, any sole trader or someone in a partnership must be able to satisfy a particular income criteria to be able to offset their losses. The first condition of for this income requirement is that the taxpayer’s net taxable income must be less that $250,000 and this must exclude any business losses that were suffered. However, this calculation includes the total reportable fringe benefits amounts, reportable superannuation contribution sand total net investment losses.

(For this part of the income calculation, we do not take into consideration any exempt income)

Four tests

If one satisfies the income requirement as has been discusses above, we have four tests that help us to evaluate whether the Non commercial losses in concern is valid for offset in the same year. The individual taxpayers can benefit from these losses by offsetting them against other income such as salary and wages, providing an effective way to minimize their taxable income.

These tests can be briefly described as follows:


  • Accessible income tests

The accessible income for a person includes the ordinary as well as the statutory income that is earned in all. This also includes any income that is derived from the sale of any depreciating assets in the normal course of business, which also takes into consideration the capital gains and fuel tax credits. This accessible income must exceed $20,000 for the financial year in concern for this test to be passed.

  •  Profits test

A profits test is passed if the business in concern has made a tax profit in at least three out of the past five years. For this particular calculation, we must exclude any loss that has been deferred from the earlier years of this business.

  • Real property test

The real property of a person includes the land, structures and the interests in that property. In order for this test to pass, we must make sure that the real property assets are evaluated at $500,000 in value on a continuing basis. This evaluation may be made on the basis of reduced cost base or even the market value. For this purpose, we must not use the property that is used for a short term or one that is used through an agreement for intermittent use on some other basis.

  • Other assets test

In order for this test to pass, the value of the ‘other assets’ that are used in the business on a continuing basis must be at least $100,000. Out of the certain assets that are excluded in this test arecars, vehicles and those properties that are included in the real property test.

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Special case

In a few chosen cases where a business has satisfied the income requirements but is unable to pass even any one of the tests that have been mentioned above, the business owner can seek for the Commissioner’s discretion. This can be achieved only in the following cases:

  • If a business has commenced, but a lag time is expected before tax profits can be made or any of the four tests can be satisfied.
  • If a business is proven to show that a situation out of one’s personal control affected the business which would have otherwise satisfied either of the four tests.



In case a loss is suffered in a business that is under partnership, the losses must be divided equally among the partners. Thus, the individual then also has the right to offset their part of the losses against their personal income for use in a later year.

How to defer your losses

In order to claim the deferred losses of one’s business in any future financial year, they must satisfy the criteria for Non commercial losses as has been mentioned above. Another exception in this case can be if the Commissioner has exercised discretion.

This is advantageous if in the following year the business makes any amount of profit. The deferred losses can thus be offset against the profits made in this year. Another important thing that must be noted is that there is no fixed limit as to the time till this loss can be deferred. This is known as Defer Losses Infidelity. However, the limit cannot be exceeded once any of the following occurs:

  • The commissioner exercises his power of discretion to offset any losses in the business
  • The requirements for ‘Non commercial losses’ are met with
  • Once any profit activity is detected in the business in concern, the deferred loss can only be extended for as long as the period of the profit from the same activity.

How to offset your losses

Once the eligibility criteria for offset of once losses is satisfied, the following steps are followed:

  • The losses suffered in the current year, accompanied by the deferred losses from earlier years are all combined and can then be offset against other incomes like salary and wages in the current year.
  • With one’s business loss, they will need to combine all income as well as deductions made by any sources that are related to the business activity, be it indigenous or foreign.
  • The claim for losses can thus be made against both, foreign and indigenous components of income since no restrictions are imposed on these.