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Publication 225

Chapter 7
Depreciation, Depletion, and Amortization(p35)

What's New for 2017(p35)

Increased section 179 expense deduction dollar limits.(p35)
The maximum amount you can elect to deduct for most section 179 property you placed in service in 2017 is $510,000. This limit is reduced by the amount by which the cost of the property placed in service during the tax year exceeds $2,030,000. See Dollar Limits under Section 179 Expense Deduction, later.

What’s New for 2018(p35)

Phase down of the special depreciation allowance.(p35)
The special depreciation allowance will be phased down to 40% for certain property placed in service after December 31, 2017, and certain plants bearing fruits and nuts or grafted after December 31, 2017. See Certain property placed in service before January 1, 2020, and Certain specified plants, later.


If you buy or make improvements to farm property such as machinery, equipment, livestock, or a structure with a useful life of more than a year, you generally cannot deduct its entire cost in one year. Instead, you must spread the cost over the time you use the property and deduct part of it each year. For most types of property, this is called depreciation.
This chapter gives information on depreciation methods that generally apply to property placed in service after 1986. For information on depreciating pre-1987 property, see Pub. 534, Depreciating Property Placed in Service Before 1987.


Useful items

You may want to see:

 463  Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses
 534  Depreciating Property Placed in Service Before 1987
 535  Business Expenses
 544  Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets
 551  Basis of Assets
 946  How To Depreciate Property
Form (and Instructions)
 T: (Timber), Forest Activities Schedule
 3115: Application for Change in Accounting Method
 4562: Depreciation and Amortization
 4797: Sales of Business Property
See chapter 16 for information about getting publications and forms.
Where Refund
It is important to keep good records for property you depreciate. Do not file these records with your return. Instead, you should keep them as part of the permanent records of the depreciated property. They will help you verify the accuracy of the depreciation of assets placed in service in the current and previous tax years. For general information on recordkeeping, see Pub. 583, Starting a Business and Keeping Records. For specific information on keeping records for section 179 property and listed property, see Pub. 946, How To Depreciate Property.

Overview of Depreciation(p35)

This overview discusses basic information on the following.

What Property Can Be Depreciated?(p35)

You can depreciate most types of tangible property (except land), such as buildings, machinery, equipment, vehicles, certain livestock, and furniture. You can also depreciate certain intangible property, such as copyrights, patents, and computer software. To be depreciable, the property must meet all the following requirements.

Property You Own(p36)

To claim depreciation, you usually must be the owner of the property. You are considered as owning property even if it is subject to a debt.

Leased property.(p36)

You can depreciate leased property only if you retain the incidents of ownership in the property. This means you bear the burden of exhaustion of the capital investment in the property. If you lease property from someone to use in your trade or business or for the production of income, you generally cannot depreciate its cost because you do not have the incidents of ownership. You can, however, depreciate any capital improvements you make to the leased property. See Additions and Improvements under Which Recovery Period Applies in chapter 4 of Pub. 946.
You generally can depreciate the cost of property you lease to someone even if the lessee (the person leasing from you) has agreed to preserve, replace, renew, and maintain the property. However, you cannot depreciate the cost of the property if the lease provides that the lessee is to maintain the property and return to you the same property or its equivalent in value at the expiration of the lease in as good condition and value as when leased.

Life tenant.(p36)

Generally, if you hold business or investment property as a life tenant, you can depreciate it as if you were the absolute owner of the property. See Certain term interests in property, later, for an exception.

Property Used in Your Business or Income-Producing Activity(p36)

To claim depreciation on property, you must use it in your business or income-producing activity. If you use property to produce income (investment use), the income must be taxable. You cannot depreciate property that you use solely for personal activities. However, if you use property for business or investment purposes and for personal purposes, you can deduct depreciation based only on the percentage of business or investment use.
Example 1.(p36)
If you use your car for farm business, you can deduct depreciation based on its percentage of use in farming. If you also use it for investment purposes, you can depreciate it based on its percentage of investment use.
Example 2.(p36)
If you use part of your home for business, you may be able to deduct depreciation on that part based on its business use. For more information, see Business Use of Your Home in chapter 4.
You may be able to use the simplified method to determine your business use of the home deduction. If you choose to use the simplified method, you cannot also deduct depreciation on the part of the home used for business. For more information about the simplified method, see Pub. 587, Business Use of Your Home.


You can never depreciate inventory because it is not held for use in your business. Inventory is any property you hold primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of your business.
Livestock purchased for draft, breeding, or dairy purposes can be depreciated only if they are not kept in an inventory account. Livestock you raise usually has no depreciable basis because the costs of raising them are deducted and not added to their basis. However, see Immature livestock under When Does Depreciation Begin and End, later, for a special rule.

Property Having a Determinable Useful Life(p36)

To be depreciable, your property must have a determinable useful life. This means it must be something that wears out, decays, gets used up, becomes obsolete, or loses its value from natural causes.

Irrigation systems and water wells.(p36)

Irrigation systems and wells used in a trade or business can be depreciated if their useful life can be determined. You can depreciate irrigation systems and wells composed of masonry, concrete, tile (including drainage tile), metal, or wood. In addition, you can depreciate costs for moving dirt to construct irrigation systems and water wells composed of these materials. However, land preparation costs for center pivot irrigation systems are not depreciable.

Dams, ponds, and terraces.(p36)

In general, you cannot depreciate earthen dams, ponds, and terraces unless the structures have a determinable useful life.

What Property Cannot Be Depreciated?(p36)

Certain property cannot be depreciated, even if the requirements explained earlier are met. This includes the following.

Computer software.(p36)

Computer software is generally not a section 197 intangible even if acquired in connection with the acquisition of a business, if it meets all of the following tests.
If the software meets the tests above, it can be depreciated and may qualify for the section 179 expense deduction and the special depreciation allowance (if applicable), discussed later.

Certain term interests in property.(p36)

You cannot depreciate a term interest in property created or acquired after July 27, 1989, for any period during which the remainder interest is held, directly or indirectly, by a person related to you. This rule does not apply to the holder of a term interest in property acquired by gift, bequest, or inheritance. For more information, see chapter 1 of Pub. 946.

When Does Depreciation Begin and End?(p36)

You begin to depreciate your property when you place it in service for use in your trade or business or for the production of income. You stop depreciating property either when you have fully recovered your cost or other basis or when you retire it from service, whichever happens first.

Placed in Service(p36)

Property is placed in service when it is ready and available for a specific use, whether in a business activity, an income-producing activity, a tax-exempt activity, or a personal activity. Even if you are not using the property, it is in service when it is ready and available for its specific use.


You bought a planter for use in your farm business. The planter was delivered in December 2016 after harvest was over. You begin to depreciate the planter in 2016 because it was ready and available for its specific use in 2016, even though it will not be used until the spring of 2017.
If your planter comes unassembled in December 2016 and is put together in February 2017, it is not placed in service until 2017. You begin to depreciate it in 2017.
If your planter was delivered and assembled in February 2017 but not used until April 2017, it is placed in service in February 2017, because this is when the planter was ready for its specified use. You begin to depreciate it in 2017.

Fruit or nut trees and vines.(p37)

If you acquire an orchard, grove, or vineyard before the trees or vines have reached the income-producing stage, and they have a preproductive period of more than 2 years, you must capitalize the preproductive-period costs under the uniform capitalization rules (unless you elect not to use these rules). See chapter 6 for information about the uniform capitalization rules. Your depreciation begins when the trees and vines reach the income-producing stage (that is, when they bear fruit, nuts, or grapes in quantities sufficient to commercially warrant harvesting). For information on claiming the special depreciation allowance for certain specified plants bearing fruits and nuts, see Certain specified plants, later.

Immature livestock.(p37)

Depreciation for livestock begins when the livestock reaches the age of maturity. If you bought immature livestock for drafting purposes, depreciation begins when they can be worked. If you bought immature livestock for breeding or dairy purposes, depreciation begins when they can be bred. Your basis for depreciation is your initial cost for the immature livestock.

Idle Property(p37)

Continue to claim a deduction for depreciation on property used in your business or for the production of income even if it is temporarily idle. For example, if you stop using a machine because there is a temporary lack of a market for a product made with that machine, continue to deduct depreciation on the machine.

Cost or Other Basis Fully Recovered(p37)

You stop depreciating property when you have fully recovered your cost or other basis. This happens when your section 179 and allowed or allowable depreciation deductions equal your cost or investment in the property.

Retired From Service(p37)

You stop depreciating property when you retire it from service, even if you have not fully recovered its cost or other basis. You retire property from service when you permanently withdraw it from use in a trade or business or from use in the production of income because of any of the following events.
For information on abandonment of property, see chapter 8. For information on destroyed property, see chapter 11, and Pub. 547, Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts.

Can You Use MACRS To Depreciate Your Property?(p37)

You must use the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) to depreciate most business and investment property placed in service after 1986. MACRS is explained later under Figuring Depreciation Under MACRS.
You cannot use MACRS to depreciate the following property.
For more information, see chapter 1 of Pub. 946.

What Is the Basis of Your Depreciable Property?(p37)

To figure your depreciation deduction, you must determine the basis of your property. To determine basis, you need to know the cost or other basis of your property.

Cost or other basis.(p37)

The basis of property you buy is usually its cost plus amounts you paid for items such as sales tax, freight charges, and installation and testing fees. The cost includes the amount you pay in cash, debt obligations, other property, or services. For more information, see chapter 6.
There are times when you cannot use cost as basis. In these situations, the fair market value (FMV) or the adjusted basis of the property may be used.

Adjusted basis.(p37)

To find your property's basis for depreciation, you may have to make certain adjustments (increases and decreases) to the basis of the property for events occurring between the time you acquired the property and the time you placed it in service.

Basis adjustment for depreciation allowed or allowable.(p37)

After you place your property in service, you must reduce the basis of the property by the depreciation allowed or allowable, whichever is greater. Depreciation allowed is depreciation you actually deducted (from which you received a tax benefit). Depreciation allowable is depreciation you are entitled to deduct.
If you do not claim depreciation you are entitled to deduct, you must still reduce the basis of the property by the full amount of depreciation allowable.
If you deduct more depreciation than you should, you must reduce your basis by any amount deducted from which you received a tax benefit (the depreciation allowed).
For more information, see chapter 6.

How Do You Treat Repairs and Improvements?(p37)

If you improve depreciable property, you must treat the improvement as separate depreciable property. Improvement means an addition to or partial replacement of property that is a betterment to the property, restores the property, or adapts it to a new or different use. See Regulations section 1.263(a)-3.
You generally deduct the cost of repairing business property in the same way as any other business expense. However, if the cost is for a betterment to the property, restores the property, or adapts it to a new or different use, you must treat it as an improvement and depreciate it. See chapter 1 of Pub. 946 for more information.


You repair a small section on a corner of the roof of a barn that you rent to others. You deduct the cost of the repair as a business expense. However, if you replace the entire roof, the new roof is considered to be an improvement because it increases the value and lengthens the life for the property. You depreciate the cost of the new roof.

Improvements to rented property.(p37)

You can depreciate permanent improvements you make to business property you rent from someone else.

Do You Have To File Form 4562?(p37)

Use Form 4562 to claim your deduction for depreciation and amortization. You must complete and attach Form 4562 to your tax return if you are claiming any of the following.
For more information, see the Instructions for Form 4562.

How Do You Correct Depreciation Deductions?(p37)

If you deducted an incorrect amount of depreciation in any year, you may be able to make a correction by filing an amended return for that year. You can file an amended return to correct the amount of depreciation claimed for any property in any of the following situations.


You have adopted a method of accounting if you used the same incorrect method of depreciation for two or more consecutively filed returns.
If you are not allowed to make the correction on an amended return, you may be able to change your accounting method to claim the correct amount of depreciation. See the Instructions for Form 3115.