A recent case before the Tax Tribunal reminds us that in order to set a trading loss sideways against other income, the business must be carried out on a commercial basis with a view to making a profit.
The case in question relates to Mrs Thorne, who ran an equestrian business and another business growing asparagus. The self-employment pages of her tax return showed a single composite business, which incurred an overall trading loss. The equestrian business was unlikely to make a profit and was clearly a hobby. However, the asparagus business was in its early stages; it is widely accepted that it can take up to three years before a significant crop is produced.
Had separate accounts been prepared for the asparagus business, loss relief would likely have been available, as it could be argued that the venture was being carried out on a commercial basis with a view to making a profit.