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Will Congress fix depreciation?

11 months, 1 week ago from DTN AgDay

Anticipate that most of the items in the "tax extender" package will be renewed

QUESTION

What do you think the chances are for Congress to extend the 50% bonus depreciation another year? I am trying to make a decision on constructing a $100,000 machine shed. I am going to have a high-income year from liquidating a cow-calf herd, and the $50,000 deduction would be helpful. I need to move now on the machine shed decision and cannot wait for Congress on this for many more months. Or should I forego the needed shed to purchase other machinery that would be eligible to use against the Section 179 expected increase?

ANSWER

Your question is the classic illustration of how congressional inaction can paralyze business decisions. We are one-third of the way through 2014, and we still do not know what the depreciation rules are for this year's asset acquisitions!

We anticipate that most of the items in the "tax extender" package will be renewed. But these first-year depreciation deductions are less certain because they represent temporary incentives that Congress was using to spur a recessionary economy. Our expectation coming into 2014 was that Congress would finally let the 50% bonus expire, and scale back the first year Section 179 deduction to its pre-recession level. With inflation indexing, that would bring the Section 179 deduction to about $145,000. If this is the outcome in the tax legislation, there would be no 50% bonus for your new shed, and as a general-purpose building it is ineligible for Section 179. Your depreciation would be spread over a 20-year recovery period.

However, the Senate Finance Committee recently moved forward on renewing the 50% bonus for new assets for 2014 and the continuation of the $500,000 Section 179 deduction. But it's early in the process; this legislation hasn't yet moved to full Senate passage. And of course it also needs to pass the House, where spending concerns and the size of the deficit are occasionally acknowledged. So, long story short, it is probably a toss-up as to whether the 50% bonus gets renewed. I would be more optimistic about a larger Section 179 amount, as that deduction is only available to smaller businesses and does not have the budgetary cost of the 50% bonus deduction.

And finally, a business thought. Your question described the machine shed as a needed improvement. If so, you should put that improvement ahead of machinery acquisitions that might be more driven by their depreciation benefit. In the big picture, this is only about the timing of the deductions. You should really focus primarily on what is most important for the efficiency and growth of your business, with the taxes as a secondary aspect.


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