What diference are between carryover and carryforward in U.S. individual tax?

Are they both to apply some current things to the taxes in the future?

Carryover looks like only applied to the capital loss from investment?

Carryforward can be applied to any loss or credit?


1 Answer 1


The precise rules and limits of carryovers will vary based on the specific deduction, credit, or other calculation ("tax attribute") being carried over. It's not a single precise term.

Generally speaking, a carryover is the term for moving a tax attribute from one tax year to another tax year. Carryforward is when it moves forward and carryback is when the attribute is moved to a prior year (by amending). Carryover tends to imply carrying forward, but it need not.

Here are all three terms used in the same sentence in Pub 536, regarding NOLs:

Step 5. Determine the amount of your unused NOL. See How To Figure an NOL Carryover, later. Carry over the unused NOL to the next carryback or carryforward year and begin again at Step 4.

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