Trading losses versus Patent Box losses

What is the difference between a trading loss and a Patent Box loss, or are they the same thing?

The concept of a Patent Box loss is completely different from a trading loss. A trading loss can be used to offset profits from other income and trades, profit from the previous year, future profits and other group company profits, making it an effective tax saving tool.

On the contrary a Patent Box loss is never a good thing. This arises where a Patent Box stream makes a loss in a period, independent of the overall profits made by the claimant company. This has to then be set off against other Patent Box profits such as other profitable streams (if applicable), other group companies’ Patent Box profits if any have elected in and made a profit, or failing that the Patent Box loss needs to be carried forward and offset against the first available Patent Box profit in that stream.

Because a Patent Box profit results in a deduction against corporation tax, offsetting these profits with Patent Box losses has the result of reducing a deduction, effectively increasing a company’s tax liability. Therefore where a company has not elected in to the Patent Box scheme and is not expecting to make a profit in the foreseeable future, any intention to elect in to the scheme should be considered extremely carefully from a timing point of view. A premature election could actually end up costing the company money.

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