Have Finance Questions? Ask a Financial Expert Online.
You can carry forward a NOL up to twenty years. Negative income is the whole reason why you have the NOL to carryforward, so you only use enough each year to reduce your income to $0.
Here is a link to the IRS website that discusses how to show the carryforward: https://www.irs.gov/publications/p536/ar02.html#en_US_2015_publink1000177402
Your taxable income should be $0 after your NOL carryover, assuming you have enough to wipe out whatever income you had for the year. The line number changes from year to year.
To calculate your carryover, take your income after your deductions, but before your exemptions. For 2015, this appears on line 41.
You can't use personal exemptions for the carryover, but you can use them in years when you carried over a NOL amount. The NOL carryover should be reported as a negative number on the other income line, so you will use only enough to reduce your taxable income to $0 for that year (exemptions included).
To use the carryover, calculate your return as normal and then add whatever amount is necessary to reduce your taxable income to $0. Also attach a statement showing the details of the carryover.
You only need to back out your exemptions in the first year. You don't have to recalculate the carryover each year, but you can't claim more in any subsequent year than you have to carryforward. In your example, the remaining NOL for 2017 would be the carryover from 2015, minus whatever amount you added to the "Other Income" line as a carryforward in 2016.