« 12 Revenue Recognition Concerns | Main | 5 Scenarios Where Proper Workplace Decorum is Essential »

Time to Clean House with Asset Retirement

TimeRegardless of the size of your business, somebody should be responsible for maintaining your company's fixed asset or depreciation schedule. Since in most cases this is not a full-time job, it may be neglected. Updating accounting records is unavoidable for most of us. However, many of us are incredibly busy. Who has time to pull out a fixed asset list - just to make an addition? If your company is large enough to employ an asset manager, you may be up to speed with fixed assets. If not, who is responsible for managing this schedule and do they have the information they need? New tax regulations that went into effect Jan. 1 allow organizations to go back and write off those assets on the books that are long gone. The regulations even allow for partial dispositions of "units of property" that previously were not permitted.

Imagine replacing the following items over a period of ten years after purchasing a property: HVAC units, lighting fixtures, a building facade or a roof. According to prior tax law, there was no provision to take write-offs on the retired assets that were part of a building as a whole. Now that Treasury has issued what is expected to be the final regulations on partial asset disposition, one can finally feel comfortable recognizing a retirement loss on every asset that no longer exists. These write-offs could be significant. Since commercial building property, including each of the components listed above, is depreciated over a 39-year period for tax purposes, after ten years these items are still on the books at approximately 75% of their original cost. The regulations require that a reasonable method, consistently applied, be used to compute a placed-in-service year cost. If the tax basis in the ten-year-old retired assets is determined to be $400,000, the current year’s loss on disposition could be up to $300,000. Federal tax savings on a $300,000 write-off could be as much as $130,000 or more.  

Once 2014 passes, so will the opportunity to recognize a late partial disposition. Going forward, once the regulations are adopted, there will be no provision to go back and retire assets that were disposed of in prior years. Partial dispositions will only be available on timely filed income tax returns, including extensions. Maybe now we will more enthusiastically pull those schedules, mark them up and consult a professional to help with asset retirement.                                     

Cathy Harris, CPA, Director, Harbor Tax Group. Cathy has followed the proposed, temporary and final regulations on tangible property since 2006. 


Comments are moderated. Please review our Comment Policy before posting.
comments powered by Disqus


Subscribe in a reader

Enter your Email:

CPA Letter Daily