understanding depreciation it may be more simple than you think
Depreciation is defined as a portion of the cost that reflects the statement of a fixed asset during an accounting period. A fixed asset is an item that has a advantageous action of over one year. An accounting period is usually a month, quarter, six months or one year. Let’s add you bought a desk for your office on January 1, for $1000 and it was curved that the desk had a advantageous action of seven age. Using a one year accounting period and the “straight-line” adaption of depreciation, the portion of the cost to be depreciated would be one-seventh of $1000, or $142.86.

Most non-accountants roll their eyes and shudder when the topic of “depreciation” comes up. This is where the line in the sand is pinched. Depreciation is far too complicated to ace shot and figure out, or so it seems to abounding. But is it really? Surely the definition of depreciation mentioned above is not that ambitious to comprehend. If you attending closely you will beam that there are five pieces of advice you must accept in adjustment to actuate the amount of depreciation you can deduct in one year. They are:

-The attributes of the item purchased (the desk).

-The date the item was placed in service (Jan 1).

-The cost of the item ($1000).

-The advantageous action of the item (seven age).

-The adaption of depreciation to be used (straight-line)

The aboriginal three are accessible to figure out, the second two are again accessible but crave a babyish research. How accomplish you figure out the advantageous action of an item? Let me regress for a moment. There is “book depreciation” which is based on the absolute advantageous action of an item, and there is the IRS version of what constitutes the advantageous action of an item. A bag that is concerned with accurately allocating its costs so that it can amuse a accurate picture of grasp profit will statement book depreciation on its financial statements.

However, for levy purposes the bag is required to statement the IRS adaption. The IRS may accept shorter or longer advantageous lives for fixed assets causing a higher or lower depreciation inscription-off. The higher the inscription-off, the less levy a bag pays. The continued and short of it is that you borderline up having to actualize a book financial statement and a levy financial statement. So, most baby businesses that aren’t concerned with a precise measurement of their grasp profit statement the IRS adaption on their books. This means that all you accept to accomplish is attending in IRS Publication 946 to acquisition the advantageous action of a particular item.

The last piece of advice you charge is activate by determining the adaption of depreciation to statement. Most generally it will be one of two methods: the “straight-line” adaption or an accelerated adaption called the “twin-declining balance” adaption. Let’s briefly altercate these two methods:


This is the child’s play adaption mentioned in the definition above. Aloof booty the cost of the item, divide it by the advantageous action and you’ve got the answer. Affirmative, you will accept to adjust the depreciation for the aboriginal year you placed the item in service and for the last year when you removed the item from service. For instance, if your depreciation for one year was $150 and you placed the item in service on April 1 then divide $150 by 12 (months) and multiply $12.50 by 9 (months) to amuse $112.50. If you removed the item on February 28 then your deduction will alone be $25.00 (2 x $12.50).

Twin-declining balance

The abstraction behind this adaption is that when an item is purchased advanced, you will statement up added of it in the earlier age of its action, accordingly, justifying a higher depreciation deduction in the earlier age. With this adaption, simply divide the cost of the item by the advantageous action age as in the straight-line adaption. Then, multiply that aftereffect by 2 (twin) in the aboriginal year. The second year, booty the cost of the item and subtract the accumulated depreciation. Abutting, divide that aftereffect by the advantageous action and multiply that aftereffect by 2, and so on for each remaining year.

But, wait! You don’t accept to accomplish this. The IRS provides tables that accept the percentages worked out for each year of the two altered methods. Not alone that, they accept set up adapted aboriginal year “conventions” that assume you purchased your depreciable fixed assets on June 30. This is called the one-half year convention. The abstraction behind this is that you may accept bought some items earlier than June 30 and some after that date. So, to accomplish it accessible to figure out, they assume the higher and lower depreciation amounts will all average out.

Actually, the IRS doesn’t even call it depreciation anymore. They call it “cost recovery”. Let’s face it. This is a political tool. Congress giveth and taketh away. They accept been playing with this system for age. If they appetite to stimulate advance in bag they will shorten the advantageous action of assets so businesses can attain a higher inscription-off. If they are not in the humour, they will extend the advantageous action of an item. A acceptable archetype is the 39 age set for the advantageous action of commercial property. This means that if you rent a building for your bag and accomplish improvements, those improvements accept to be depreciated over 39 age. Any more congress is working on a bill to drop that down to 15 age for leasehold improvements.

Before December 31, 1986 we had ACRS or Accelerated Cost Recovery System. Currently, we accept MACRS or Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System. Every age congress tweaks the rules they accord it a altered agname.

Accumulate in apperception there are altered schedules for altered properties. For instance, residential absolute property is depreciated over twenty-seven and one-half age and non-residential absolute property is depreciated over thirty-nine age. In addition, if added than forty percent of your total fixed asset purchases occurred in the last quarter of the year, then, you must statement a mid-quarter convention. This convention assumes that your purchases fabricated in the last quarter of the year were fabricated on November 15. This prevents you from buying a ample expensive piece of equipment on December 31 and treating it as though it were purchased on June 30 and gaining a larger depreciation expense.

Compassionate how basic depreciation works can be admired to the baby bag owner as it helps to apperceive the levy implications when planning for chief equipment purchases.

About the author:
John W. Day, MBA is the author of two courses in accounting basics for non-accountants. Appointment his website at http://www.reallifeaccounting.comto download for FREE his 3 e-books pertaining to baby bag accounting and his monthly newsletter on accounting issues. Buzz John questions directly on his Accounting for Non-Accountants blog .

Originall posted June 8, 2012