Bonus Depreciation

Bonus Depreciation

ATRA generally allows for 50 percent bonus depreciation during 2012 and 2013. After 2013, bonus depreciation is scheduled to expire (except for certain noncommercial aircraft and longer production period property which may be eligible for 50 percent bonus depreciation through 2014).

Qualifying property. Qualified property for bonus depreciation purposes must be depreciable under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) and have a recovery period of 20 years or less. These requirements encompass a wide variety of assets. The property must be new and placed in service (as well as acquired) before January 1, 2014 (placed in service before January 1, 2015 for certain noncommercial aircraft and longer production period property).


Unlike regular depreciation, under which half or quarter year conventions may be required, a taxpayer is entitled to the full, 50-percent bonus depreciation irrespective of when during the year the asset is purchased. Year-end placed-in-service strategies therefore can provide an almost immediate “cash discount” for qualifying purchases, even when factoring in the cost of business loans to finance a portion of those purchases.


Although a bonus-depreciation election should be factored into a year-end strategy, a final decision on making it is not required until a return is filed. Further, bonus depreciation is not mandatory. Certain taxpayers should consider electing out of bonus depreciation to spread depreciation deductions more evenly over future years.


Bonus depreciation’s placed-in-service deadline for certain noncommercial aircraft and property with a longer production period was extended by ATRA for an additional year, but its acquisition date remains at before January 1, 2014, as under the general rule. Property acquired pursuant to a written binding contract entered into before January 1, 2014, is deemed acquired before January 1, 2014.

Luxury car depreciation caps. Along with the sunset of bonus depreciation, the additional $8,000 first-year depreciation cap for passenger automobiles under Code Sec. 280F to account for bonus depreciation is scheduled to expire after 2013.


The scheduled sunsetting of the additional $8,000 first-year depreciation amount may give businesses an additional incentive to purchase (and place into service) a vehicle before year-end 2013. The additional $8,000 amount could be extended by Congress as in the past but there is no guarantee that it will do so again.

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