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The IRS has issued guidance in a question and answer (Q&A) format to address a number of specialized issues that have arisen under the new optional longer net operating loss (NOL) carryback period that was provided by the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 (WHBAA). Under WHBAA, an irrevocable election of a 3, 4, or 5-year carryback period for an applicable NOL for a tax year ending after Dec. 31, 2007, and beginning before Jan. 1, 2010, is generally available for one tax year (except for an eligible small business (ESB) loss). The WHBAA election is an expansion of the increased carryback period election provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which was available only to ESBs, and only for 2008 NOLs. The guidance addresses many questions left unanswered by the statutory provisions. For example, it makes clear that if a taxpayer previously made an ARRA election, it doesn’t have to continue to qualify as an ESB in the year of the WHBAA NOL in order to make a WHBAA election. A taxpayer must qualify as an ESB only for the tax year of the ARRA election. Also, the IRS has revised the Instructions for Form 1139, Corporation Application for Tentative Refund (Rev. August 2010), to explain how businesses make the WHBAA election.
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