The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed depreciation limits for passenger vehicles placed in service after Dec. 31, 2017. (more…)
Posts tagged ‘Depreciation’
Tax reform legislation passed in December 2017 includes changes that affect businesses. One of these changes allows businesses to write off most depreciable business assets in the year they place them in service. (more…)
The IRS has released the inflation-adjusted limitations on depreciation deductions for business-use passenger automobiles, light trucks, and vans first placed in service during calendar year 2016. Where bonus depreciation is allowed, the first-year depreciation limit is $8,000 higher than the general non-bonus depreciation limits. (more…)
FAQ – What are the 2016 optional standard mileage rates for automobile use?
The IRS has issued the 2016 optional standard mileage rates for calculating the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical, and moving purposes (Notice 2016-1; IR-2015-137). The decline in gas prices appeared to spur the drop in the optional rates. (more…)
For a business to start writing off the cost of depreciable equipment and property, it is necessary that the equipment be placed in service. To write off costs in 2015, the equipment must be placed in service by December 31, 2015. The “placed-in-service” requirement applies, for example, for taking depreciation, especially first-year bonus depreciation, under Code Sec. 168, expensing of the cost of property under Code Sec. 179, and other write-offs such as the investment tax credit under Code Sec. 46. (more…)
Businesses generally want to write off costs more quickly, to reduce their taxable income and their tax burden. One mechanism for accomplishing this is to deduct the costs of depreciable property rather than capitalizing them. Under Code Sec. 179, taxpayers can expense a prescribed amount of their costs for tangible depreciable property, even if the ordinary accounting treatment would be to capitalize the costs.
Code Sec. 179 applies primarily to personal property, but can apply to some real property. In recent years (through 2013), the expensing limit has been as high as $500,000 a year. However, for 2014, the expensing deduction limit is $25,000. (Congress could raise the limit for 2014 but has not done so.)
Because of the dramatic reduction in the Code Sec. 179 expensing limits, taxpayers may want to consider using the de minimis safe harbor in the final “repair” regulations as an alternative means of deducting costs that they would otherwise have to capitalize. The IRS issued final repair regulations in 2013 on the treatment of costs incurred with respect to depreciable property. The regulations are effective for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2014 and provide guidance on whether to expense or capitalize relevant costs.
The safe harbor
The de minimis safe harbor applies to smaller priced items used in the business. The safe harbor can apply in the following situation: a taxpayer with a $500 per item expensing policy buys 1,000 calculators for $100 each. If the taxpayer elects the safe harbor, the taxpayer can deduct the entire cost of the calculators in the year paid or incurred. The total deduction is $100,000, much greater than the $25,000 limit under Code Sec. 179 for 2014.
The safe harbor is an election, not an accounting method. It can be applied for any year (or not) as determined by the taxpayer. The taxpayer can make an election for 2014, for example. The deadline is the extended due date of the taxpayer’s original income tax return. An election statement must be attached to the return. The election is irrevocable.
There are two alternative de minimis safe harbors. The primary safe harbor, for use by any taxpayer but primarily for larger entities, allows taxpayers to deduct items that cost $5,000 or less (per item or invoice). The items must be deductible under the taxpayer’s financial accounting procedures and in accordance with the company’s applicable financial statement (AFS). An AFS is a financial statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission or another government agency, or a certified audited financial statement. The taxpayer must also have a written accounting policy, put into effect at the beginning of the year, to treat the cost of the items as an expense.
Similar requirements apply to smaller business taxpayers who do not have an AFS, with the following two differences: the accounting policy does not have to be in writing; and the amount paid for the property may not exceed $500 per invoice or per item. If the cost of the items exceeds $500 per item, the taxpayer must capitalize the cost. The taxpayer cannot avoid the $500 (or $5,000) threshold by breaking an item into components whose separate cost is below the limit. For example, the taxpayer could not split the cost of a truck into separate components such as the engine, cab, and chassis.
Under the modified accelerated cost recovery system (MACRS) (which is more commonly known as depreciation), a half-year timing (i.e., averaging) convention generally applies to the depreciation deduction for most assets during anytime within the year in which they are purchased. That is, whether you purchase a business asset in January or in December, it’s treated for depreciation purposes as being purchased on July 1st. However, a taxpayer who places more than 40 percent of its depreciable property (excluding residential rental property and nonresidential real property) into service during the last three months of the tax year must use a mid-quarter convention – decidedly less advantageous. Because of the 40 percent rule, the purchase of a vehicle or other equipment in the last month of the tax year might, in itself, trigger imposition of the mid-quarter convention. Businesses should keep in mind the 40 percent rule especially for year-end tax planning purposes.
The applicable averaging convention is not elective. Rather, one of three conventions (half-year, mid-month, and mid-quarter) must apply.
Half-year convention. Under this convention, property is treated as placed in service, or disposed, on the midpoint of the tax year. Thus, one-half of the depreciation for the first year of the recovery period is allowed in the tax year in which the property is placed in service, regardless of when the property is placed in service during the tax year. The half-year convention applies to property other than residential rental property, nonresidential real property, and railroad grading and tunnel bores unless the mid-quarter convention applies
Mid-month convention. Under this convention, property is treated as placed in service, or disposed of, on the midpoint of the month. The MACRS deduction is based on the number of months that the property was in service. Thus, one-half month of depreciation is allowed for the month that property is placed in service and for the month of disposition if there is a disposition of property before the end of the recovery period. The mid-month convention applies to residential rental property (including low-income housing), nonresidential real property, and railroad grading and tunnel bores.
Mid-quarter convention. Under this convention, all property (other than the property otherwise excluded) placed in service, or disposed, during any quarter of a tax year is treated as placed in service, or disposed, on the midpoint of the quarter. A quarter is a period of three months. The mid-quarter convention applies to all property (other than residential rental property, nonresidential real property, and railroad grading and tunnel bores) if more than 40 percent of the aggregate bases of such property is placed in service during the last three months of the tax year.