Hobby loss rule

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Hobby loss rule
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The hobby loss rule is a common expression of a term applied to the principle of Section 183. According to it, any activity carried out by an individual, a partnership or an S company must be carried out with the purpose of making a gain.

This rule prevents deductions for activities similar to hobbies [1].

Code Section 183

Code Section 183 was created to regulate the previous case-law and aimed to set impartial factors that will help determine which outgoings should be deductible.

For the taxpayer, this rule also envisages a conjecture that if the lucre comes from action over three years from each subsequent five-year times then the activity will be considered as involved in gainful purposes, not a hobby. These assumptions, however, may be abolished by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). Code Section 183 allows taxpayers to procrastinate such a judgment if they agree to extend the limitation period a few years ahead. Choosing Section 183 will continue the statute of reduction period only for activities covered by Code Section 183 [2].

IRS's nine factors

A taxpayer who is subject to the hobby loss rule must be prepared to show that he is going to make a gain. You could do business for years and never earn, but still have the right to count off losses.

The IRS uses nine factors to help determine if a profit target exists [3]:

  1. lead the action in a business way,
  2. have the knowledge to run a propitious business,
  3. give enough time on the action so that it does not look like an extra occupation,
  4. if you looking forward to the good you are working on to be appreciated in terms of worthy, this is evidence that you have the incentive to make a profit,
  5. achieving triumph or absence of it in previous business projects,
  6. the IRS checks profits history at the beginning of its operations,
  7. the IRS analyzes the being of sporadic lucre if any,
  8. the richer you are, the more likely your action will look like a hobby for IRS,
  9. does the company have a meaningful factor of personal enjoyment or reaction?

Hobby classification

When a company is classified as a hobby, then every year in which it makes a lucre, it must cover taxes on all profits. In any year in which a loss occurs, i.e. outlay exceeds profit, they cannot be deducted. In addition, disused losses cannot be carried forward to recover them in the following year. The deduction is gone forever.

Hobby lose rule is to avert people who engage in activities such as dog breeding or the rental of antique cars from deducting what is a personal expenditure in terms of tax law. Any actions undertaken for recreational or seemingly personal purposes are suspected. But this rule is not restricted to actions that at first glance can be a hobby. This follows to any action, even investment activity, which aims to bring investors only tax losses [4].


  1. Traum S.S., Traum J.R., (2009), pg. 17
  2. Traum S.S., Traum J.R., (2009), pg. 17
  3. Kaplan M.S., (2004), pg. 195-196
  4. Weltman B., (2017), pg. 558-559


Author: Oliwia Książek