IRS issues guidance on bonus depreciation

Under the “Tax Relief Act of 2010,” you may be able to write off the entire cost of business property placed in service this year,
thanks to 100% “bonus depreciation.”

Prior to this law, a business was able to claim 50% bonus depreciation on qualified new (but not used) property placed in service in 2010. This included property with a cost recovery period of 20 years or less, most computer software, qualified leasehold improvement property, and certain water utility property. Bonus depreciation could be coordinated with Section 179 first-year expensing and regular depreciation deductions (subject to the annual limits).

The “Tax Relief Act,” signed December 17, 2010, improved and extended the tax benefits. It allows a business to claim 100%
bonus depreciation for qualified property placed in service from September 9, 2010, through December 31, 2011 (through 2012 for property with a cost recovery period of ten years or more and certain aircraft and transportation property). As the law currently stands, 50% bonus depreciation can be claimed for qualified property placed in service during 2012.

The “Tax Relief Act of 2010” did not change the definition of “qualified property”; it remains the same as it was before.

Recently, the IRS issued new guidance on using bonus depreciation. It focuses on the following areas:

* Depreciation step-down. You’re allowed to “step down” from 100% bonus depreciation to 50% bonus depreciation this year if
it suits your needs. For example, it may not be advantageous for a business to front-load its depreciation deductions to receive the maximum amount. The IRS guidance spells out the procedure for cutting back to 50% bonus depreciation.

* Company vehicles. The first-year depreciation deduction for “luxury cars” and other vehicles is enhanced by $8,000 due to the
bonus depreciation rules.

Be aware that certain heavy-duty SUVs and other vehicles weighing more than 6,000 pounds are exempt from the luxury car limits. If purchased after September 8, 2010, and before January 1, 2012, they may qualify for 100% bonus depreciation.

* Qualified leasehold property. The IRS says that qualified restaurant and retail improvement properties may be eligible for 100% bonus depreciation under the definition of “qualified leasehold property.”

* Component depreciation. A business may be able to deduct certain components of a business building over a faster cost recovery period than the usual 39-year period required for an entire building. The IRS ruling authorizes an election to use 100% bonus depreciation for qualified components of a self-constructed building.

Even with the recent IRS guidance, the depreciation rules remain very complicated.

About Brenda J. McGivern, CPA

Brenda McGivern started her own certified public accounting and management consulting firm in October 2001. The full service CPA firm provides tax and accounting solutions to meet the needs of today’s small business and individual. Brenda McGivern has become a trusted advisor and valuable resource her clients rely on for timely, accurate assistance when they need it.

Before starting the firm, she worked as an accountant for three years at a local firm and prior to that five years at a large international CPA firm in Boston. She has performed the following tax services: federal, state and local tax planning, international tax planning, estate and succession planning, mergers and acquisitions, capital retention and IRS representation. She has also coordinated assurance engagements, such as financial statement audits, reviews and compilations from the planning phase through the reporting phase. She has prepared and reviewed regulatory filings for numerous regulatory agencies including the Security and Exchange Commission.

Prior to these positions she was selected from over 2,000 candidates into an eight-person intensive financial management program at an international technology company. The program consisted of graduate level classroom study and two six-month rotational assignments in financial operations.

She graduated cum laude from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting. McGivern also holds a license in Massachusetts as a Certified Public Accountant and is a member of the American Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants. She resides in Stoughton, Massachusetts with her husband Brian, and their sons Sean, Ryan and Conor and their dog, Davis.

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