Vernoia, Enterline + Brewer, CPA LLC

Posts tagged ‘MACRS’

How Do I? Compute depreciation conventions at year-end?

Skoda car salonUnder 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.

How do I? Compute depreciation for tax purposes

The simple concept of depreciation can get complicated very quickly when one is trying to determine the proper depreciation deduction for any particular asset. Here’s only a summary of some of what’s involved.

Identifying the asset

The modified accelerated cost recovery system (MACRS) is generally, but not always, used to depreciate tangible depreciable property placed in service after 1986. The MACRS deduction is computed on Form 4562, Depreciation and Amortization.

Intangible property may not be depreciated under MACRS, but it may be amortized in certain situations. Real estate may not be depreciated, but buildings situated on it may. Sound recordings, films, and videotapes are specifically excluded from MACRS, but may be depreciated using the income forecast method. Deprecation for financial accounting book purposes is generally not the same as tax depreciation. Under MACRS, property placed in service and disposed of in the same tax year is not depreciable. Property converted from business use to personal use in the tax year of acquisition is not depreciable.

The cost of tangible depreciable property also may be deducted immediately if the business and the asset qualifies for Code Section 179 expensing. Bonus depreciation, in years that Congress makes it available, is also available, taken first before the asset’s remaining value is depreciated under MACRS.

Computing depreciation under MACRS

In order to compute depreciation under MACRS, the asset’s MACRS property class must be determined. The asset’s recovery period (i.e., its depreciation period), applicable depreciation method, and applicable convention depend on the asset’s property class. Under MACRS, an asset’s property class is based on either the type of asset or the business activity in which the asset is primarily used. The key resource for determining an asset’s property class is the asset classification table contained in Revenue Procedure 87-56.

The cost of property in the 3-, 5-, 7-, and 10-year classes is recovered using the 200-percent declining-balance method (i.e., the applicable depreciation method) over three, five, seven, and ten years, respectively (i.e., the applicable recovery period), and the half-year convention (unless the mid-quarter convention applies), with a switch to the straight-line method in the year that maximizes the deduction.

Hispanic couple outside home for rentThe cost of 15- and 20-year property is generally recovered using the 150-percent declining-balance method over 15 and 20 years, respectively, and the half-year convention, with a switch to the straight-line method to maximize the deduction. The cost of residential rental and nonresidential real property is recovered using the straight-line method and the mid-month convention over 27.5-  and 39-year recovery periods, respectively.

For more specific information on the amount of depreciation you may take for any business asset you own or plan to purchase, please feel free to contact this office.

How Do I? Claim enhanced Code.Sec 179 expensing for 2013

Code Sec. 179 allows taxpayers to expense the cost of qualified property instead of capitalizing the cost and recovering it over a period of years. The provision is designed to help small business. For the period 2010-2013, taxpayers can write off up to $500,000 of the costs of qualified property placed in service during the year. The $500,000 cap is reduced dollar-for-dollar to the extent that the cost of qualified property placed in service during the year exceeds $2 million. The amount claimed cannot exceed the income from the taxpayer’s trade or business for the year. Any amount disallowed can be carried over to a future year.

The enhanced Code Sec. 179 expensing will expire at the end of 2013 unless Congress extends it. The $500,000 cap decreases to $25,000 for property placed in service in tax years beginning after 2013. The $2 million phase-out limitation is scheduled to decrease to $200,000 for tax years beginning after 2013.

Although there is an overall cap on the amount that a taxpayer can write off under Code Sec. 179, there is no cap on the amount that can be written off on a particular piece of property. Thus, if property placed in service in 2013 cost $100,000, a taxpayer can take bonus depreciation for 50 percent of the cost (or $50,000), but can expense the entire $100,000 under Code Sec. 179. There is a $25,000 cap on write-offs for sport utility vehicles.

Qualifying property

Qualifying property is tangible property that is depreciable under Code Sec. 168 (the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System, or MACRS), or off-the-shelf computer software placed in service before 2014. The property must be Code Sec. 1245 property. This includes tangible personal property and property used in manufacturing, extraction and production activities. The property must be acquired for use in the active conduct of a trade or business. The property can be new or used.

For tax years 2010-2013, qualifying property also includes “qualified real property.” This encompasses qualified leasehold improvements, qualified retail improvement property, and qualified restaurant improvement property.


Taxpayers must make the election to claim the Code Sec. 179 deduction on Form 4562, Depreciation and Amortization. Taxpayers must make a new election each year. Property can be expensed in the year it is placed in service, not the year it is obtained. The election must provide the total amount of the deduction and the portion of the deduction allocable to each item of property.

Ordinarily, the election must be made by the due date of the return filed for the year in which the property is placed in service. The election is irrevocable unless the IRS consents to revocation. However, for property placed in service in 2003-2013, the taxpayer may make an election (or a revocation) on an amended return filed within the limitations period for an amended return. A revocation, once made on an amended return, is irrevocable

Steps to qualify for bonus depreciation before year-end 2012

The tax code provides for 50 percent first-year bonus depreciation for 2012. If property qualifies for bonus depreciation, the taxpayer can deduct 50 percent of the cost of the property in 2012. This can help a business bear the cost of investing in needed equipment, as well as facilitate cash flow and provide operating funds for the business. It is not too late to qualify for 50-percent bonus depreciation for 2012.

In 2011, bonus depreciation was 100 percent. There have been proposals to reinstate 100 percent bonus depreciation for 2012, but they have not been acted on. For 2012, 50 percent bonus depreciation is available. It expires at the end of 2012 and is not available for 2013. (Note that certain longer production-period property and transportation property still qualifies for 100 percent bonus depreciation if it is acquired and placed in service during 2012.)

Qualified property must be depreciable under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) and have a recovery period of 20 years or less. Qualified property also includes computer software, water utility property, and qualified leasehold improvement property. The property generally has to be depreciable under MACRS; thus, intangible assets amortized over 15 years do not qualify for bonus depreciation.

There are other requirements for taking 50-percent bonus depreciation in 2012. The original use of the property must begin with the taxpayer. The property must be new, must be acquired before January 1, 2013 (title must pass), and must be placed in service before January 1, 2013. Being placed in service requires that the property be installed and ready for use in the business. The property must be in a condition or state of readiness to be used on a regular, ongoing basis. The property must be available for a specifically assigned function in the trade or business.

The original use is the first use to which the property is put. That, if a taxpayer purchases used property from another business, the property will not qualify for bonus depreciation. However, if the taxpayer makes additional expenditures to recondition or rebuild acquired property, these expenses can satisfy the original use requirement. A person who acquires new property for personal use and then converts it to business use is still considered the original user of the property.

The acquisition date rules require that there not be a written binding contract in effort before January 1, 2008 to acquire the property. Property can qualify if the taxpayer entered into a written binding contract for its acquisition after December 31, 2007 and before January 1, 2013. Self-manufactured property can qualify if the taxpayer begins manufacturing, constructing or producing the property before January 1, 2013. Property is deemed acquired when reduced to physical possession or control. Regardless of the manner of acquisition, the property must be placed in service before January 1, 2013.

If the business does not have profits in the current year, it can use the bonus depreciation deduction to create a net operating loss, which can then be carried back (or forward) to a profitable year and generate a refund. However, bonus depreciation is not mandatory. Taxpayers may choose to elect out of bonus depreciation, so that they can spread depreciation deductions more evenly over future years.

If you need further assistance in arranging any capital purchases for your business to qualify for bonus depreciation before it sunsets at the end of 2012, please contact this office at (908) 725-4414.

Questions remain about “repair” regulations

More than six months after the IRS issued temporary “repair” regulations (T.D. 9564), many complex questions remain about their interpretation and application. These regulations are sweeping in their impact. They have been called game-changers for good reason, affecting all businesses in one way or another and carrying with them both mandatory and optional requirements. Many of these requirements also carry fairly short deadlines.

The new regulations are generally effective for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2012. However, certain portions are effective for amounts paid or incurred in tax years beginning on or after January 2, 2012, a subtle but important difference. To complicate matters further, the regulations are, in effect, retroactive insofar as accounting method changes are needed to be filed with the IRS in many cases and adjustments made to reflect these changes.

The new regulations are called “temporary” only because the IRS reserves the right to fine-tune them and issue “final” regulations – the IRS may do this before year end, but it has a three year deadline to do so. In the meantime, the “temporary” regulations stand in as the law.


The new regulations present both compliance challenges and planning opportunities. The major take away from examining these new regulations is that it is to the advantage of virtually all businesses to reconsider how they treat certain repairs and improvements for tax purposes.

The following highlights cover only some of the many changes made by the new repair regulations:

Materials and supplies. The definition of materials and supplies has been revised along with the rules for determining the proper tax year for a deduction. The new regulations allow an election to capitalize materials and supplies, and contain special rules for rotable spare parts.

De minimis expensing. Taxpayers with an “applicable financial statement,” such as a certified audited financial statement, may now claim a current deduction for the cost of acquiring items of relatively low-cost property, including materials and supplies, if specific requirements are met. Under the general rule, materials and supplies are usually deducted in the tax year used or consumed. The new election to deduct materials and supplies under the de minimis rule is particularly helpful if the tax year in which the cost of the materials and supplies is paid or incurred occurs before the tax year of use or consumption.

Amounts paid to acquire or produce tangible property. This portion of the regulations explains which costs associated with the acquisition or production of real or personal property must be capitalized to the basis of the property and which costs may be claimed as a current deduction.

Amounts paid to improve tangible property. This is the heart of the new regulations which provides rules for distinguishing repairs from capital expenditures. It divides capital expenditures into three categories of improvements: betterments, restorations, and adaptations. Generally, whether an expenditure is an improvement is based on facts and circumstances. A safe harbor rule is provided for routine maintenance activities. Also, certain regulated taxpayers may elect to use their regulatory accounting method to distinguish between repairs and capital expenditures.

Unit of property defined. The “unit of property” is a critical concept in determining whether an expenditure is a repair or capital expenditure. Generally, the larger the unit of property, the more likely that work on that property will be considered a deductible repair. The regulation contains detailed rules for determining the size of a unit of property in the case of buildings and other types of property. Planning opportunities present themselves within this framework.

MACRS general asset accounts. MACRS stands for modified accelerated cost recovery system, which is the basis system now used for the tax depreciation of most assets. Importantly, an election to recognize gain or loss by reference to the adjusted basis of an asset disposed of from a GAA now applies to virtually any asset disposed of. Previously, a taxpayer was usually required to recognize the entire amount realized upon a disposition as ordinary income, and no loss deduction was allowed. Bottom line: A taxpayer may now place an asset, such as a building, in a GAA and—whenever an asset, such as a structural component, is retired—choose whether to follow the GAA default rule that no loss is recognized or elect to recognize a loss equal to the adjusted depreciable basis of the asset.

Businesses that previously retired a structural component which is currently still being depreciated will need to change accounting methods to bring the treatment of the structural component into compliance with the new rules. For most taxpayers, the change in method will involve making a retroactive MACRS general asset account election and then deciding whether to claim a loss on the retired component through a so-called 481(a) adjustment or to continue to depreciate the retired component.