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Tax Guru-Ker$tetter Letter
Thursday, November 19, 2009
2010 Vehicle Depreciation Limits

CCH has calculated the inflation adjustments for the depreciation limits on business vehicles first placed into service in 2010.  Based on past experience, they expect IRS to release their official version of the calculation in April 2010.

Ever since the ridiculously low luxury car limits on depreciation were initiated in 1984, we have had to break the news to clients that they were driving luxury cars in the eyes of the IRS, even though that wasn’t reflected in reality.

The new limits per CCH:

Passenger Vehicles:

Year 1                            $3,060
Year 2                              4,900
Year 3                              2,950
Year 4                              1,775
Year 5                              1,775
    Five Year Total         $14,460

Trucks & Vans:

Year 1                       $3,160
Year 2                         5,100
Year 3                         3,050
Year 4                         1,875
Year 5                         1,875
    Five Year Total    $15,060


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Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Bonus Depreciation - New or Used?


Subject:  Special Bonus Dep and Section 179


I saw on your website that used vehicles qualify for section 179 deduction, but will a used vehicle qualify for the 50% special bonus depreciation allowed under the 2008 eco stimulus package…or does it have to be a new vehicle?

Thank you



While Section 179 deductions have always been available for business equipment that had been previously owned by unrelated parties, one of the requirements for special first year bonus depreciation has always been that it was only available for the first user of that specific asset.  So, a used vehicle will not qualify for the special bonus depreciation.

Your personal professional tax advisor should be able to give you more specific advice for your unique circumstances.

Good luck.

Kerry Kerstetter



Super. Great website. Thank you for your response and clarification. Best of luck to you!




Sunday, May 06, 2007
Depreciation Errors?


Subject: Salvage / Basis Reduction; Special Depreciation

Hi Kerry,

I can’t express how much I have appreciated all the knowledgeable responses you have posted. Hope you can answer my questions.

I have been taking a stronger interest in my financial affairs. I recently reviewed my taxes and am attempting to educate myself on the in and outs of the 1040. My question is in regards to Depreciation. My former accountant made a few decisions that I am unclear on. I own two rental houses and a R.V. He listed my rental houses as residential throughout my return except on form 4562 where he depreciated them under classification (i) Nonresidential real property, which is depreciated over 39 years (MM S/L) as opposed to classification (g) which is subject a 27.5 year schedule. He also placed $50,000 of the $200,000 Cost / Basis (purchase price) under Salvage / Basis Reduction, which reduced the Depreciation Basis to $150,000.

For my R.V. which I purchased in 2002 he placed almost $17,000 above the purchase price in the Special Depreciation Allow column, which increased the Cost / Basis by that same amount but reduced it Deprecation Basis back down to the purchase price. Then in subsequent years he used the larger Cost / Basis figure as the Deprecation Basis.

I no longer work with him, but I just wanted to ask him some informed questions about my return.

Thank you in advance for your time,

**Please note that you have my permission to reword or break my questions into multiply post. In fact, I would appreciate it if you would not use my actual figures but rather replace them with any figure you deem appropriate of useful. Thank you again for providing such a valuable service.


These are really questions that you should be going over with your new tax advisor. In fact, it would a good item to use in screening potential new tax pros; having them review your depreciation schedules and explain to you what happened and what they would do about it. You can compare their responses to mine below.

If the properties are residential, it sounds like a computer coding error, if the 39 year life was used instead of the proper 27.5 years. The net effect for the prior years wouldn't be enough to justify going back and filing amended tax returns. However, from this point forward, I would start using the correct 27.5 year life.

There are several methods used to determine the value of the non-depreciable land to set up as the property's salvage value. Your prior accountant may have a standard percentage of the total purchase price that he uses or he may have used the percentage from one of your property tax bills. If you think that you have a better more accurate way to calculate this, use it and change the salvage value from this point forward. Again, this is too minor to justify filing amended tax returns for previous years.

On the RV, if you look on the 4562 and detailed depreciation schedule attached to your 2002 1040, you should see the $17,000 of first year bonus depreciation. This number is simply being carried forward by the tax software and is standard procedure. Most tax programs prepare detailed depreciation schedules that reflect the historical amounts for each item. There shouldn't be anything to be concerned about, unless there was no bonus depreciation in 2002, and your most recent tax preparer didn't also prepare 2002 and made a mistake when entering carryover assets into his tax program.

It sounds as if you are not reading the depreciation schedule properly. The actual depreciable basis of the RV should be the purchase price less the bonus depreciation and any Section 179 that was claimed. Again, your new (or potential) tax preparer should have no problem deciphering the schedules and explaining them to you, including any changes that need to be made. S/he will need to see the actual printed schedule rather than rely on your narrative of what it says.

I hope this helps.

Good luck.

Kerry Kerstetter



Thank you for your incredibly quick and informative response. I learned more in reading your email than I have in hours researching on the internet and speaking with accountants!

Unfortunately, my accountant made few large errors in my 2003 return. He forgot to include $11,000 in interest payments on my house and he forgot to include my CA state tax paid. I also reviewed the depreciation schedule for my RV in 2002 and he did in fact add the $16,950 bonus deprecation to the cost basis (so my depreciation is based on an inflated figure).

Anyways, I'm relieved to know that I can switch my depreciation schedule for my rental properties to 27.5 years. Do you think I should file amended returns for the $11,000 interest and CA state tax that was left out?

Thank you in advance for your time. I know you must have a million emails to respond so I understand that if in the process of allocating your time you are unable to respond. Please note that I really appreciated your useful advice and I will not take any more of your valuable time.



Financially, depending on your tax brackets, going back to pick up $11,000 of missed interest expense could very well be worth it to you. You have three years after the return to file it, and you are earning 8% interest on the refund all this while, so there is no immediate rush to do this.

However, you need to consult with your new personal tax advisor as to the climate in your area regarding IRS's processing of amended returns requesting refunds. As I have written about over the past few years, they had been automatically initiating full blow audits on all amended tax returns claiming refunds. From isolated reports from some tax pros around the country, IRS seems to have eased up on this in the last few months; but your new tax pro should be more up to date on this for your specific area and IRS Service Center.

I hope this helps.

Good luck.

Kerry Kerstetter


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