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Recapturing Depreciation

Posted by taxguru on February 27, 2012



Subject: Section 179 deduction question

Hi Kerry, I hope you’re doing well today. I came across one of your tax guru web pages ( as I was seeking some tax advice. Thank you in advance for providing the information. I do have a question and wondering if you wouldn’t mind assisting me as it pertains to section 179.

I had purchased and placed in service a 2010 Cadillac Escalade (shorter model) on Sept. 9, 2010 as I am a self-employed individual and had utilized the vehicle for my consulting business (sole proprietor) the day of inception thru the remainder of year 2010 and all of year 2011. I had taken the section 179 deduction for tax year 2010 of $25,000 plus the allowable bonus depreciation of $11,855 for a total of $36,855 deprecation deduction in tax year 2010.

At this time, I hit extremely difficult income times as my income has decreased over 70% starting from the beginning of October 2011 to present as my consulting contracts have just about dried up and now I have to look at getting rid of assets. Unfortunately, I can’t afford the Escalade at this time and need to dispose of it immediately. If I were to sell it outright today and not trade it for any like-kind exchange, what tax implications would I be looking at for tax year 2012 meaning, what estimated tax do you think I would have to pay in the disposition of the Escalade? Additional information is I claimed the 5 year recovery period using the 200 DB-HY method/conversion and entered the cost basis of the esclade as $61,855 (that’s what I paid for it).

I’m only asking for an estimate, if you can provide one, and thank you very, very much in advance, if you’re able to provide an answer. I really appreciate it.

best regards,



Calculating the taxable gain is pretty straight forward.

Add up all of the Section 179 and depreciation deductions you have claimed for the vehicle and then subtract that from your original purchase price. That will give you the adjusted cost basis (aka Book Value) of your vehicle. Anything above that amount that you sell it for will be your gain.

This gain, which is technically depreciation recapture, will be taxed as ordinary income on your 1040. The actual rate you will be paying for it will depend on your other income and deductions and what tax bracket you are in.

A professional tax advisor can work with your specific numbers to get you a more precise estimation of the tax effect of the sale. Another way to do this, if you are taking the risky approach of preparing your own tax returns, is to use whatever software you have for the 2011 returns and prepare a proforma 2012 with the sale of your Escalade and your other estimated 2012 figures.

You didn’t say whether you paid cash for the Escalade or financed it. The gain calculation is the same either way. However, you need to remember that the debt relief from the pay-off or assumption of any loan you may still have on the vehicle is considered to be the same as receiving cash by IRS. The total sale price will be the loan balance paid off plus any cash you receive.

Good luck. I hope this helps.

Kerry Kerstetter



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