DEFINITION of 'Ordinary Loss'

Any loss incurred by a taxpayer that is not considered a capital loss. Ordinary losses can stem from many causes, including casualty and theft. Ordinary losses that are larger than a taxpayer's gross income for the year can leave the client with zero taxable income on their 1040.

BREAKING DOWN 'Ordinary Loss'

Ordinary losses are not subject to the $3,000 annual limit that is imposed on capital losses; they can be for any amount. Business owners who fail to make a profit for the year can declare an ordinary loss on their returns. Ordinary losses are netted against ordinary income, which is taxed at the taxpayer's highest marginal tax rate. Ordinary losses can therefore offer the taxpayer greater tax savings than long-term capital losses.

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