Depreciation: What You Can Deduct and How to Calculate Deductions

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“This Post Has Not Been Updated to Include Changes from the “Tax Cuts and Job Act” passed on December 22, 2017.”


Depreciation is an annual tax deduction for the cost of certain business property. Depreciable property includes buildings, machinery, vehicles, furniture, and equipment. To deduct depreciation, you must own the asset, use the asset for business, and use the asset for more than one year. You cannot depreciate property if you use it solely for personal activities. If you use property partly for business and partly for personal purposes, you can deduct depreciation on the portion used for business.




To calculate your depreciation deduction, you must determine the basis of your property. Your basis includes the cost of the asset plus sales tax, freight charges, and installation fees.

The basis of real property includes the purchase price and other costs from your settlement statement such as legal and recording fees, abstract fees, survey charges, owner’s title insurance, and amounts paid on behalf of the seller.


Useful Life

The IRS has outlined rules for the length of time each type of asset should be depreciated. Some examples of the useful lives of assets are as follows:


Useful Life (Years)

Office Furniture




Agriculture machinery, equipment, and grain bins


Certain farm buildings


Residential rental real property


Nonresidential real property



Section 179

Section 179 is an election to deduct all or part of certain property in the year you place it in service instead of depreciating the property over time. The maximum section 179 deduction in 2017 is $510,000. The available deduction is reduced dollar-for-dollar by the cost of section 179 property placed in service exceeding $2,030,000.


Special Depreciation Allowance

The special depreciation allowance permits you to deduct 50% of the depreciation in the year the asset is placed in service. Generally, this rule can be applied to property with 20 years or less useful life that is placed in service before January 1, 2018. The deduction is reduced to 40% for property placed in service before January 1, 2019 and 30% for property placed in service before January 2, 2020. To qualify for the special depreciation allowance, the property must be a new asset. You can also elect not to claim a special depreciation allowance on a class of property.


Depreciation Calculation

  1. Determine the basis of the property
  2. Determine the percentage of business use
  3. Multiply the basis by the percentage of business use
  4. Subtract amount deducted under Section 179
  5. Multiply the result by 50% for special depreciation allowance
  6. Multiply the result by depreciation rate (A)

(A) The depreciation rate comes from IRS tables and is determined by the type of property, the date you began using the property, and the IRS rules for the length of time the asset should be depreciated.


State Rules

Not all states follow the federal depreciation rules. Some may disallow a portion of the federal depreciation deduction and require addback adjustments to calculate state taxes.


AgriSolutions proudly provides thousands of family farmers across North America with the advice and guidance they need to successfully manage their business finances. Click the link below for a free consultation, and learn how we can help your farm thrive and grow.




Disclaimer—Descriptions provided in this article are presented as generalities. There are many factors not listed above which may impact a depreciation calculation. This article should not be considered legal or tax advice. For advice on a specific transaction, please contact the AgriSolutions Tax Department at

Written By

Mary-Karen Wittman

Mary-Karen Wittman

Senior Tax Manager

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