Bonus Depreciation: A Comprehensive Guide for Businesses in 2024


Bonus depreciation is a valuable tax incentive that allows businesses to deduct a significant portion of the cost of eligible assets upfront, rather than writing them off incrementally over their useful life. This incentive was designed to encourage investment and stimulate economic growth. Eligible assets include most depreciable business assets with a recovery period of 20 years or less and certain other property, as outlined by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Understanding the intricacies of bonus depreciation can help businesses maximize their tax savings and minimize their costs. This involves being up to date with the eligibility criteria for assets, calculating the allowable amount of depreciation, and being aware of the interplay between bonus depreciation and other deductions and tax credits.

Key Takeaways

  • Bonus depreciation allows businesses to quickly deduct a substantial portion of eligible asset costs
  • Eligible assets typically have a 20-year or shorter recovery period and meet specific requirements under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
  • Companies should understand the calculation process and interplay with other tax deductions to effectively plan their investments.

Understanding Bonus Depreciation

Definition and Purpose

Bonus depreciation is a tax incentive that allows businesses to immediately deduct a significant portion of the purchase price of eligible assets, such as machinery, instead of writing them off over their useful life. This tax benefit offered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) helps businesses accelerate tax savings and makes new asset investments more affordable. Companies may also refer to this deduction as the special allowance, additional first-year deduction, or IRC §168(k) depreciation1.

Some key features of bonus depreciation include:

  • Applicable to new and used qualifying property
  • Accelerated depreciation in the first year
  • Increased tax savings in the short term

History and Legislative Background

The concept of bonus depreciation was initially introduced in 2002 through the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act2, intending to stimulate economic growth following a recession. Subsequent legislative acts have since modified and extended the bonus depreciation provisions to provide continued support for business investments.

One notable piece of legislation is the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)3, effective from December 22, 2017. This act modified the then-existing bonus depreciation rules, increasing the allowable first-year depreciation from 50% to 100% for qualifying property4. This change aimed to further incentivize businesses to invest in new equipment or property.

In summary, bonus depreciation is a valuable tax benefit for businesses allowing accelerated deductions on eligible assets. This incentive has evolved over time through various legislation, with the most recent significant change enacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Eligibility Criteria for Bonus Depreciation

Qualified Property Types

There are specific criteria that a property must meet for it to be considered eligible for bonus depreciation. Firstly, the property must be depreciable and belong to a certain type. Generally, eligible property includes machinery, equipment, and certain types of real property, such as qualified improvement property. However, intangible property and other complex assets might have different rules and requirements.

In addition to the property type, the original use of the property must commence with the taxpayer. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 expanded the bonus depreciation rules to include used property, as long as it meets certain requirements (e.g., not previously used by the taxpayer).

Limits and Restrictions

There are certain restrictions and limits in place when it comes to claiming bonus depreciation. For instance, the eligible property must be placed in service within a specified time period. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 provided a 100% write-off of business assets for five years, starting from September 28, 2017. This means that assets placed in service from that date until the end of 2022 qualify for the bonus depreciation.

Furthermore, listed property (property that may be used for both personal and business purposes) must be used predominantly for business purposes to qualify for bonus depreciation. As a general guideline, a predominant business use is when 50% or more of the property’s use is for business purposes.

In conclusion, several eligibility criteria must be met for a property to qualify for the bonus depreciation. These include the property type, the original use, and the placement of the asset in service within the specified time period. Understanding and adhering to these guidelines is essential in maximizing the benefits of the depreciation and ensuring compliance with tax regulations.

Calculating Bonus Depreciation

When it comes to calculating bonus depreciation, taxpayers need to consider a few main steps to ensure their calculations are accurate and compliant with IRS rules. This section explains the process of calculating bonus depreciation and the importance of Form 4562 in reporting depreciation and amortization.

The Role of Form 4562

Form 4562, titled “Depreciation and Amortization”, is a crucial document for taxpayers aiming to claim bonus depreciation. It allows them to report the depreciation and amortization deductions for assets purchased and put into service during the tax year.

To utilize Form 4562, taxpayers should follow these steps:

  1. Fill out Part I to report the Section 179 deduction.
  2. Move to Part II for listing and calculating bonus depreciation.

Determining Depreciable Basis

To calculate bonus depreciation, a taxpayer must first determine the depreciable basis of the asset. The depreciable basis is the amount on which the depreciation will be calculated, often the adjusted basis or the purchase price. Here’s how the calculation takes place:

  1. Subtract Section 179 expenses: Deduct any Section 179 expense deduction claimed for the year from the original cost of the asset. This will give you the remaining basis.
  2. Reduce basis by applicable credits: Decrease the remaining basis by the applicable percentage of any credits claimed, such as the energy credit.
  3. Apply bonus depreciation rate: Once the adjusted basis is calculated, apply the current bonus depreciation rate (usually a percentage) to determine the bonus depreciation amount.

By following these steps and completing Form 4562, taxpayers can accurately determine their bonus depreciation deductions and ensure they are claimed correctly on their tax returns.

It is essential for taxpayers to keep in mind that different assets and their respective categories may have specific bonus depreciation rules and rates. Therefore, taxpayers must always be attentive to the IRS guidelines and requirements when calculating and filing their bonus depreciation deductions.

Interplay with Other Deductions and Credits

Section 179 Deduction

The Section 179 deduction allows businesses to write off up to a certain amount of the purchase price of qualifying equipment and software in the year it was placed in service. For 2023, the Section 179 deduction limit is $1,160,000, with a phase-out threshold of $2,500,000 3.

Section 179 and bonus depreciation are both tax incentives that aim to encourage businesses to invest in capital assets. While they may be used in conjunction, there are differences between the two:

  • Section 179 targets small to medium-sized businesses with moderate asset investments. The deduction is limited by a phase-out threshold, which means that as asset investments increase beyond the threshold, the available deduction decreases 1.
  • Bonus Depreciation is generally more appealing to large corporations with significant asset purchases or investments. Unlike Section 179, there is no phase-out threshold, allowing for unlimited deductions 1.

Businesses must carefully consider their circumstances and choose between these deductions, or use them in combination, to maximize tax savings.

Interaction with MACRS

The Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) is the primary depreciation method for businesses in the United States. It allows for accelerated depreciation over a designated recovery period 2.

When a business claims bonus depreciation, it reduces the depreciable basis for the asset in question. As a result, the allowable MACRS depreciation deductions would also be reduced, as they are now calculated based on the lower depreciable basis.

To illustrate the interaction between Bonus Depreciation and MACRS, consider the following example:

  1. A company purchases equipment for $200,000 with a 5-year MACRS recovery period.
  2. The company chooses to claim 100% Bonus Depreciation, thus writing off the entire $200,000 cost immediately.
  3. No MACRS depreciation deductions are available for the remaining recovery period, as the entire cost has already been deducted 2.

Conversely, if the company opts not to take bonus depreciation, they must calculate their depreciation deductions using MACRS. This may result in a slower depreciation schedule, but it could be advantageous in certain situations depending on the company’s tax planning strategy.

In summary, it is vital for businesses to carefully consider the interplay between bonus depreciation, Section 179, and MACRS in order to optimize their tax strategy. Each business situation is different, requiring a careful analysis of the deductions and credits available.

Special Considerations

Software and Listed Property

Software and listed property have unique rules when it comes to bonus depreciation. Generally, off-the-shelf computer software, as well as any software developed by the taxpayer, qualifies for bonus depreciation as long it meets the following requirements:

  1. The software must have a useful life longer than one year.
  2. The software is placed in service within the specified tax year.

Listed property, such as automobiles or other personal assets used for business purposes, might also qualify for bonus depreciation. However, restrictions apply if the property is used for both business and personal purposes. To claim bonus depreciation for listed property, a taxpayer must use the property more than 50% for business purposes during the taxable year.

Impact on Taxable Years

Bonus depreciation plays a significant role in affecting tax liabilities for taxable years. As the bonus depreciation percentage phases out, from 100% to 20% incrementally, its impact on taxable years becomes less prominent.

The following table shows the schedule of bonus depreciation percentage changes:

Tax Year Bonus Depreciation Percentage
2024 80%
2025 60%
2026 40%

By claiming bonus depreciation, a taxpayer can accelerate depreciation expenses, which in turn reduces taxable income and tax liabilities for that year. It is essential for businesses to understand the impact of bonus depreciation on their taxable years and plan accordingly. One way to do this is to time the purchase of qualifying assets to align with the higher bonus depreciation rates for optimal tax savings.

Final regulations for 100% bonus depreciation have been published and are in effect, offering greater clarity for taxpayers when claiming bonus depreciation.

When planning for bonus depreciation, it is crucial for taxpayers to keep up-to-date with the changing regulations and ensure compliance with the specific requirements of qualifying property, software, and listed property. Maintaining a thorough understanding of bonus depreciation rules and its impact on taxable years can help businesses make informed decisions for their tax planning strategies.

Reporting Requirements and Tax Filing

When it comes to bonus depreciation, taxpayers and business owners must follow specific reporting requirements and tax filing procedures. In this section, we will discuss the proper use of IRS Form 4562 and the importance of consulting a tax professional.

Proper Use of IRS Form 4562

IRS Form 4562, titled “Depreciation and Amortization,” is crucial for reporting bonus depreciation on a business tax return. To claim bonus depreciation deductions, business owners must complete Part I of this form. Here are the key steps to follow:

  1. Identify and list the depreciable assets for which you are claiming bonus depreciation in Section A.
  2. Specify the cost or basis of each asset in Section B.
  3. Apply the appropriate Additional First Year Depreciation Deduction percentage (usually 100%) to the cost or basis in Section C.
  4. Calculate the bonus depreciation amount for each asset and enter it in Section D.
  5. Add up the amounts from Section D and report the total bonus depreciation on the corresponding line (usually Line 12) of your business tax return.

For detailed instructions on completing Form 4562, refer to IRS Publication 946.

Consulting a Tax Professional

Given the complexity of tax laws and specific requirements for bonus depreciation, it is highly recommended that business owners consult a tax professional. A knowledgeable tax expert can help you navigate the intricacies of bonus depreciation and ensure proper filing of IRS Form 4562. Additionally, a tax professional can advise you on other relevant tax strategies and deductions you may be eligible for.

In summary, reporting bonus depreciation involves the accurate completion of IRS Form 4562 and may necessitate the assistance of a tax professional. By ensuring proper filing procedures, business owners can take full advantage of this valuable tax benefit.

Implications for Business Planning

Strategies for Maximizing Benefits

One of the main benefits of the bonus depreciation rules under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is the ability for businesses to deduct a large portion of their capital expenditures on equipment and property. This incentivizes businesses to invest in new assets, as they can deduct up to 100% of the costs initially. In 2024, the bonus depreciation is scheduled to fall to 60%, which means businesses should carefully plan their investments in the coming years to maximize tax benefits.

To maximize the benefits of bonus depreciation, businesses can consider the following strategies:

  1. Accelerate purchases of equipment or property that would be needed in future years to take advantage of higher bonus depreciation rates before they decrease in 2024.
  2. Invest in assets that are qualified for bonus depreciation both under current tax laws and when rates reduce in the future, such as equipment, furniture, fixtures, machinery, and computer software.
  3. Consult with a CPA or tax professional to evaluate the impact of bonus depreciation on overall tax liability and to ensure that depreciation deductions are optimized in the context of other tax deductions and credits.

Considerations for Future Investments

When planning for future investments, businesses should be aware of the declining bonus depreciation rates beyond 2024: 40% in 2025, and 20% in 2026. In addition, manufacturers are now required to capitalize and amortize research costs, influencing their capitalization decisions. Consequently, businesses may need to reassess their plans and consider the following factors:

  • Anticipated useful life: Determine whether the assets being considered have a useful life of 20 years or less, as this is a requirement for qualifying for bonus depreciation.
  • Tax implications: Assess the overall impact of bonus depreciation, as well as other deductions and credits, on the business’s tax liability.
  • Alternative financing options: Consider other financing options such as loans or leases, especially if bonus depreciation benefits decrease over time.
  • Timing of investments: Carefully plan the acquisition of eligible property and equipment to optimize tax benefits based on the depreciation schedule.

By understanding the implications of bonus depreciation rules under the TCJA and incorporating this information into business planning, companies can effectively maximize tax benefits and make informed decisions regarding their investments in equipment and property.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I calculate bonus depreciation for a specific asset?

To calculate bonus depreciation for a specific asset:

  1. Subtract any Section 179 expense deduction for the year from the original cost of the asset.
  2. Reduce the basis by the applicable percentage of any credits claimed (such as the energy credit).
  3. Multiply the bonus rate (60% for 2024) by the remaining cost of the asset.

What types of vehicles are eligible for bonus depreciation?

Vehicles eligible for bonus depreciation include those with a useful life of 20 years or less, such as cars, trucks, vans, and certain heavy equipment. Keep in mind that there may be specific limitations on the amount of depreciation that can be claimed based on the type and usage of the vehicle.

How is bonus depreciation set to change in 2024?

In 2024, the bonus depreciation rate is set to reduce from 80% to 60%. This means businesses will be able to write off 60% of the cost of eligible assets in the first year that the assets are placed into service.

What is the phase-out schedule for bonus depreciation?

The phase-out schedule for bonus depreciation is as follows:

  • 2024: 60%
  • 2025: 40%
  • 2026: 20%

This schedule shows the percentage of bonus depreciation that businesses can claim for eligible assets in each year.

How does bonus depreciation differ from Section 179 deductions?

Bonus depreciation and Section 179 deductions both allow businesses to write off a portion of the cost of qualifying assets in the year they are placed into service. The main difference between the two is that bonus depreciation is limited to a specified percentage of the asset’s cost, while Section 179 deductions allow businesses to write off the entire cost of the asset, up to a specified limit. Additionally, Section 179 deductions have specific eligibility requirements and limitations based on the business’s income and asset investments.

What assets are eligible for 100% bonus depreciation?

Assets eligible for 100% bonus depreciation are those that meet the following requirements:

  1. They have a useful life of 20 years or less, which includes vehicles, equipment, machinery, furniture, and fixtures.
  2. They are new or used, but must be new to the taxpayer.
  3. They are placed into service by the business before the phase-out schedule begins.

It is important to note that land and buildings are not eligible for bonus depreciation.