Depreciation Deductions: Passenger Cars & Light Trucks, Vans and SUVs

Assuming that a taxpayer does not use the IRS standard mileage deduction, for qualifying vehicles used for business purposes and placed in service in 2009 or 2010, taxpayers may deduct various costs including depreciation, registration fees, insurance, and many others under the actual expense method. This article will examine depreciation deductions for certain categories of vehicles.

Passenger Cars

For purposes of calculating depreciation, a car is defined to be any four-wheeled vehicle for use on public roadways, with a gross vehicle weight of 6,000 pounds or less (subject to certain exceptions). Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, taxpayers may generally take bonus depreciation of $8,000 for newly purchased cars placed in service for business use in 2009 (Congress has extended the bonus depreciation for 2010, as well). Taxpayers may take an additional $2,960 maximum depreciation deduction for 2009 ($3,060 for cars purchased and placed in service in 2010). The 2009 depreciation rates for subsequent years are as follows: $4,800 for the second year; $2,850 for the third year; and $1,775 for each tax year thereafter. Depreciation limits are periodically adjusted for inflation.

Note that the above depreciation amounts assume 100% business use. Depreciation amounts must be reduced proportionately by any personal use percentage that is less than 100% business use and more than 50%. If business use is less than 50%, straight-line depreciation must be used (also reduced proportionately by personal use percentages) and the bonus depreciation amount is not available. Bonus depreciation is also not available for purchases of used cars.

Light Trucks, Vans and SUVs

A light truck, van or SUV that has a gross vehicle weight of 6,000 pounds or less may also qualify for certain depreciation deductions. As with passenger cars, an $8,000 bonus depreciation allowance is available for newly purchased vehicles in this category placed in service in 2009 or 2010. For 100% business use, taxpayers may generally take an additional $3,060 maximum depreciation deduction for 2009 ($3,160 for 2010). 2009 Depreciation rates for vehicles in this category for subsequent years are as follows: $4,900 for the second tax year; $2,950 for the third tax year; and $1,775 for each tax year thereafter.

As with passenger cars, depreciation amounts must be reduced proportionately by any personal use percentage that is less than 100% business use and more than 50%. If business use is less than 50%, straight-line depreciation must be used (also reduced proportionately by personal use percentages) and the bonus depreciation amount is not available. Bonus depreciation is also not available for purchases of used vehicles in this category.

Do you have questions about maximizing your tax savings on newly purchased business vehicles or equipment? Sherayzen Law Office can assist you with your tax needs.

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Estimated Tax Payments are due on September 15, 2010

Estimated tax payments for the third-quarter (June 1-August 31) of 2010 are due on September 15, 2010. The estimated tax payments should be made using Form 1040-ES. Note, if the due date for an estimated tax payment falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the payment will be considered on time if it is made on the next business day.

Due Date to Preserve Tax-Exempt Status: October 15, 2010

On July 26, 2010, the IRS instituted a one-time relief program under which that small nonprofit organizations at risk of losing their tax exempt status because they failed to file required returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009 can preserve their status by filing returns by October 15, 2010. The IRS also posted on its website the names and last-known addresses of these at-risk organizations, along with guidance about how to come back into compliance.

There are two types of relief available for small exempt organizations. First, filing an extension for the smallest organizations required to file Form 990-N. An organization simply needs to go the IRS website, supply the information items required by the Form 990-N, and electronically file it by October 15, 2010.

Second, IRS has a voluntary compliance program (“VCP”) for small organizations eligible to file Form 990-EZ (Short Form Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax). Under the VCP, tax-exempt organizations eligible to file Form 990-EZ must file their delinquent annual information returns by October 15, 2010 and pay a compliance fee. More details are available on the IRS website.

The relief announced today is not available to larger organizations required to file the Form 990 or to private foundations that file the Form 990-PF.

Once an organization loses its exemption, it has to reapply with the IRS to regain its tax-exempt status. Any income received between the revocation date and renewed exemption may be taxable.

Effect of Legal Separation and Divorce on Your Ability to Claim “Single” Tax Status

According to the IRS, in order to be able to claim “single” tax status, you must be “unmarried or legally separated from your spouse under a divorce or separate maintenance decree” on the last day of your tax year, and you do “not qualify for another filing status.” (See IRS Publication 501).

Determining your marital status can be a complex legal matter with numerous exceptions, and exceptions to exceptions. Only a tax professional who reviews the facts of your case may be in position to advise you on your marital status. Here, I will only attempt to sketch the broadest concepts to give you some awareness of the issues.

IRS may consider your marital status as “unmarried” if, on the last day of the relevant tax year, “you were unmarried or legally separated from your spouse under a divorce or separate maintenance decree.” Id. Usually, the state law will determine whether you were legally separated from your spouse on the last day of the relevant tax year. If you were divorced under a final decree by the last day of the year, the IRS will consider you unmarried for the entire year. However, if the divorce was motivated by the desire to file your tax return as unmarried persons, and you and your spouse remarry the next year, the IRS will disregard the divorce for tax purposes and demand that you and your spouse file your tax return(s) as married persons.

If your marriage is annulled (by a court decree which holds that no valid marriage ever existed), the IRS will consider you as “unmarried,” and you must amend your tax returns for all years (within the Statute of Limitations – usually the past three tax years) affected by the annulment.

Keep in mind that, if you are able to claim “single” status, you may also be eligible for a more advantageous tax filing status, such as “head of household” or “qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child.”

Call NOW Sherayzen Law Office to discuss your tax filing status with an attorney!