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Are you thinking about buying personal property (such as a car, a computer, or other equipment) or real property (such as a building)? If you use the property for personal purposes, it’s not deductible.

But if you use it in a business, you can deduct the full cost using regular depreciation, bonus depreciation, or IRC Section 179 expensing.

Regular depreciation takes three to 39 years depending on the property involved, while bonus depreciation allows you to deduct 100 percent of the cost of personal property in one year through 2022. Up to $1,050,000 of personal property may also be deducted in one year under IRC Section 179.

But depreciation won’t begin if you purchase property with the intent of beginning a new business. You must actually be in business to claim depreciation. This doesn’t require that you make sales or earn profits—only that your business is a going concern.

Also, depreciation doesn’t begin the moment you purchase property for your business. It begins only when you place property in service in your business. You don’t have to use the property to place it in service, but the property must be available for use in your active business. This could occur after you purchase the property.

Finally, if you use regular depreciation, you must apply rules called conventions to determine the month in which your depreciation deduction begins. The earlier in the year, the larger your deduction for the first year.

The default rule is that regular depreciation for personal property begins July 1 the first year (mid-year convention). But if you purchase 40 percent or more of your total personal property for the year during the fourth quarter, your depreciation begins at the midpoint of the quarter in which it is placed in service (mid-quarter convention).

First-year depreciation for real property begins at the middle of the month during which the property is placed in service (mid-month convention).

 

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