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.