Sale or Trade of Business, Depreciation, Rentals:
Depreciation & Recapture
Can the entire acquisition cost of a computer that I purchased for
my business be deducted as a business expense or do I have to use depreciation?
The entire acquisition cost of a computer purchased for business use can
be expensed under Code section 179 in the first year if qualified, or depreciated
under MACRS (Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System) over a 5-year recovery
period. Under section 179, you can elect to recover all or part of the cost
of certain qualifying property, up to a dollar limit, by deducting it in the
year you place the property in service. You can elect to expense the cost
of qualifying property instead of recovering the cost by taking depreciation.
To claim the expense in the first year, the property must be used more than
50% for business use, and meet the other requirements for expensing. One of
those requirements is that the total cost of qualifying property you can deduct
after you apply the dollar limit is limited to the taxable income from the
active conduct of any trade or business during the year. Any cost not deductible
in one year under section 179 because of the business income limit can be
carried to the next year.
If substantially all of the use of the property will be in the active conduct
of a trade or business in the New York Liberty Zone or the GO Zone (a specified
area affected by Hurricane Katrina) there are increased section 179 deductions
available (through section 1400L(f) and section 1400N(e) of the Code) and
there are different rules for a one time special or bonus depreciation allowance
which is an additional deduction equal to 50% (or 30% for New York Liberty
Zone property) of the property's depreciable basis (after any section 179
deduction and before figuring your regular depreciation deduction under MACRS
for the year you place the property in service). For more information on the
increased section179 deductions and the special depreciation allowance, see Publication 946, How to Depreciate Property or Publication 4492, Information for Taxpayers Affected by Hurricanes Katrina,
Rita and Wilma.
What kinds of property can be depreciated for tax purposes?
Depreciation can only be claimed on property owned by a taxpayer and used
by the taxpayer in a trade or business or for production of income. Additionally,
the property must be something that wears out or becomes obsolete and it must
have a determinable useful life substantially beyond the tax year. The kinds
of property that can be depreciated include, but are not limited to, machinery,
equipment, buildings, vehicles, and furniture. Some intangible property may
also be depreciable (e.g. patents). Depreciation is a complex topic. For more
information, refer to Tax Topic 704, Depreciation, or Publication 946, How to Depreciate Property , or Publication 534 (PDF), Depreciating Property Placed
in Service Before 1987.
I purchased a computer last year to do online day trading part-time
from home for additional income. Can I deduct or depreciate the cost of the
computer or internet connection from my investment income?
You may deduct investment expenses (other than interest expenses) as miscellaneous
itemized deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF),
line 22, Itemized Deductions. This would include depreciation on
the portion of your computer used for investment purposes, and the portion
of your internet access charges used for investment purposes.
The acquisition cost of a computer purchased for investment use can be
depreciated over a 5-year recovery period. To elect to recover (expense) all
or part of the acquisition cost of the computer in the first year under section
179, the property must be used more than 50% for business use (as opposed
to investment use), and meet the other requirements for expensing under section
179. One of those section 179 requirements is that the total cost of qualifying
property you can deduct after you apply the dollar limit is limited to the
taxable income from the active conduct of any trade or business during the
year. See Publication 946, How to Depreciate Property for
additional information on the section 179 deduction.
Because these deductions (described in the 1st paragraph) are for investment
expenses rather than for business expenses, the sum of these deduction amounts
and other expense and deduction amounts included in Job Expenses and Certain
Miscellaneous Deductions of Form 1040, Schedule A must be reduced by 2% of
your adjusted gross income. Use Form 4562 (PDF), Depreciation
and Amortization, to compute the depreciation for the portion of your
computer used for investment purposes and Form 1040, Schedule A to determine
your reduced total amount under Job Expenses and Certain Miscellaneous Deductions..
What form and line do I deduct the standard mileage rate for my
business travel and do I need to figure depreciation of the vehicle, too?
A Sole Proprietor's business use of a car or truck is claimed on line 9
of Form 1040, Schedule C (PDF), Schedule
C, Profit or Loss from Business or, if eligible, line 2 of Form 1040, Schedule C-EZ (PDF), Net Profit from Business.
You may use either the actual expense method in calculating your car or truck
expense or, if eligible, the standard mileage rate. Depreciation expense is
already included in this standard mileage rate. Depreciation is only calculated
as a separate expense when using the actual expense method. Deductible employee
business use of a car or truck may be taken on Form 2106 (PDF), Employee Business Expenses , or if, eligible, line
1 of Form 2106-EZ (PDF), Unreimbursed Employee
Business Expenses. The car and truck expenses are then taken with other
employee business expenses on line 20, Form 1040, Schedule A&B (PDF) Itemized
Deductions . For more information, refer to Publication 463, Travel,
Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses , and Publication 535, Business
I have a home office. Can I deduct expenses like mortgage, utilities,
etc., but not deduct depreciation so that when I sell this house, the basis
won't be affected?
If you qualify to deduct expenses for the business use of your home, you
can claim depreciation for the part of your home that is a home office. Generally,
the part of your home that is a home office is depreciated over a recovery
period of 39 years using the straight line method of depreciation and a mid-month
convention. If you do not claim depreciation on that part of your home that
is a home office, you are still required to reduce the basis of your home
for the allowable depreciation of that part of your home that is a home office
when reporting the sale of your home. For more information, refer to Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home.
We have incurred substantial repairs to our rental property: new
roof, gutters, windows, furnace, and outside paint. What are the IRS rules
Replacements of roof, rain gutters, windows, and furnace on a residential
rental property are capital improvements to the structure because they materially
add to the value of your property or substantially prolong its life. The items
would be in the same class of property as the rental property to which they
are attached. Since the property is residential rental property, the items
are generally depreciated over a recovery period of 27.5 years using the straight
line method of depreciation and a mid-month convention.
Repairs, such as repainting the residential rental property, are currently
deductible expenses. A repair keeps your property in good operating condition.
It does not materially add to the value of your property or substantially
prolong its life. Repainting your property inside or out, fixing gutters or
floors, fixing leaks, plastering, and replacing broken windows are examples
of repairs. If you make repairs as part of an extensive remodeling or restoration
of your property, the whole job is an improvement. In that case, you should
capitalize and depreciate the repair costs as the same class of property that
you have restored or remodeled as discussed above. For more information, refer
to Publication 527, Residential Rental Property, and Publication 946, How to Depreciate Property.
I purchased a rental property last year. What closing costs can
The only deductible closing costs are those for interest, and deductible
real estate taxes. Other settlement fees and closing costs for buying the
property become additions to your basis in the property. These basis adjustments
- Abstract fees,
- Charges for installing utility services,
- Legal fees,
- Recording fees,
- Transfer taxes,
- Title insurance, and
- Any amounts the seller owes that you agree to pay, such as back taxes
or interest, recording or mortgage fees, charges for improvements or repairs,
and sales commissions.
- Those costs that are basis adjustments can be part of your yearly depreciation
deduction for the rental property.
For additional information, refer to Publication 527
Rental Property, Publication 17
, Your Individual Income Tax Guide
and Publication 535
, Business Expenses
Can you deduct Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) premiums on rental
property? If so, which line item on Schedule E?
Yes. You can deduct Private Mortgage Insurance premium on line 9 of Form 1040, Schedule E (PDF), Supplemental Income and
Loss. Write "PMI" on the dotted line.
I rent my home out for two weeks each year. Do I have to show the
income on my return?
You must first consider if you use your dwelling as a home. You are considered
to use a dwelling as a home if you use it for personal purposes during the
tax year for more than the greater of 14 days or 10% of the total days it
is rented to others at a fair rental price. It is possible that you will use
more than one dwelling unit as a home during the year. For example, if you
live in your main home for 11 months and in your vacation home for 30 days,
your home is a dwelling unit and your vacation home is also a dwelling unit,
unless you rent your vacation home to others at a fair rental value for more
than 300 days during the year.
There is a special rule if you use a dwelling as a home and rent it for
fewer than 15 days. In this case, do not report any of the rental income and
do not deduct any expenses as rental expenses. If you itemize your deduction
on Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF) Itemized
Deductions, you may be able to deduct mortgage interest, property taxes,
and any casualty losses. For additional information, refer to Tax Topic 415, Renting
Vacation Property/Renting to Relatives and Publication 527, Residential
Rental Property (including Rental of Vacation Homes).
I am renting a house to my son and daughter-in-law. Can I claim
In general, if you receive income from the rental of a dwelling unit, such
as a house, apartment, or duplex, there are certain expenses you may deduct.
Besides knowing which expenses may be deductible, it is important to understand
potential limitations on the amounts of rental expenses that may be deducted
in a tax year.
There are several types of limitations that may apply.
- Passive Activity losses : In general, you can deduct
passive activity losses only from passive activity income (a limit on loss
deductions). You carry any excess loss forward to the following year or years
until used, or until deducted in the year you dispose of your entire interest
in the activity in a fully taxable transaction. There are several exceptions
that may apply to the passive activity limitations. Refer to Publication 527, Residential Rental Property and Publication 925, Passive Activity and At-Risk Rules .
- At risk rules: The at-risk rules limit your losses
from most activities to your amount at risk in the activity. You treat any
loss that is disallowed because of the at-risk limits as a deduction from
the same activity in the next tax year. If your losses from an at-risk activity
are allowed, they are subject to recapture in later years if your amount at
risk is reduced below zero. Refer to Publication 925, Passive
Activity and At-Risk Rules.
- Not for profit activities: If you do not rent your
property to make a profit, you can deduct your rental expenses only up to
the amount of your rental income. Any rental expenses in excess of rental
income cannot be carried forward to the next year. Refer to Publication 527, Residential Rental Property and Publication 535, Business Expenses .
- Rental of a dwelling unit: The tax treatment of
rental income and expenses for a dwelling unit that you also use for personal
purposes (renting to a relative may be considered personal use even if they
are paying you rent) depends on whether you use it as a home. Refer to Publication 527, Residential Rental Property .
- Expenses in connection with rental of a dwelling unit
for less than 15 days per year . Refer to Publication 527, Residential
Rental Property .
What form(s) do we need to fill out to report the sale of rental
The gain or loss on the sale of rental property is reported on Form 4797 (PDF), Sale of Business Property. Form 1040, Schedule D (PDF), Capital Gains and Losses,
is often used in conjunction with Form 4797. For further information, refer
to Publication 544, Sales on Other Disposition of Assets,Publication 550, Investment Income and Expense, the Instructions to Form 4797 (PDF), Sale of Business Property, and
the Instructions to Form 1040, Schedule D, Capital Gain and Losses.
We are selling rental property and have never claimed depreciation.
What do we do about this when we file our taxes?
When reporting the sale of or computing gain or loss on rental property,
you are required to make an adjustment to your basis for allowable depreciation
regardless of whether the deduction was taken. For more information refer
to Publication 544, Sales or Other Dispositions of Assets, and
the Form 4797 Instructions, Sales of Business Property.
You can claim the depreciation not taken for the rental property in the
years before the year of sale. How to do this depends on when you placed in
service the rental property. If you placed the rental property into service
in the year immediately preceding the year of sale, you may amend your income
tax return for that prior year by using Form 1040X (PDF), Amended
U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to take the depreciation deduction
for the rental property that should have been taken. Or, you may file a Form 3115 (PDF), Application for Change in Accounting
Method, to claim the depreciation for the rental property that should
have been taken for the prior year. The Form 3115 must be timely filed for
the same tax year in which you sell the rental property.
If you placed the rental in service more than a year preceding the year
of sale and if you took no depreciation deduction, or a deduction of less
than the allowable amount for two or more consecutive years , you must use Form 3115 (PDF), Application for Change in Accounting
Method, to claim the depreciation for the rental property that should
have been taken for the years before the year of the sale. The Form 3115 must
be timely filed for the same tax year in which you sell the rental property.
What forms do we file to report a loss on the sale of a rental property?
The loss on the sale of rental property is reported on Form 4797 (PDF), (Sale of Business Property) as ordinary loss.
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