Maximizing your deductions: Section 179 and Bonus Depreciation

Don't miss out on potential tax benefits in 2020.

Tags: Regulations, Taxes
Published: October 20, 2020

Businesses have ongoing incentives to acquire and install capital equipment. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made significant changes to both Section 179 and bonus depreciation. These changes continue to be in effect for 2020 and when used together may allow businesses to deduct up to 100% of capital purchases.

Read on for an overview of both deductions and how they could save you money during this tax year.


What is Section 179, and how has it changed?

What is changing in 2020?

2019 2020
Section 179 Maximum Deduction
Phase-out threshold
Bonus Depreciation
New and used for both
New and used for both


Internal Revenue Code Section 179 allows businesses to expense the full purchase price of qualifying equipment and/or software purchased during the tax year. When you buy a piece of qualifying equipment, you may be able to deduct the full purchase price on your business income tax return.

Before the TCJA, the government capped business taxpayers’ Section 179 deduction at $500,000, with a phase-out beginning at $2 million. The new Act raised the deduction limit to $1 million and the phase-out threshold to $2.5 million. This increases Section 179 benefits for small and mid-size businesses who spend less than $3.5 million per year for equipment.


What is Bonus Depreciation

Bonus Depreciation, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), allows business taxpayers to deduct additional depreciation for the cost of qualifying business property, beyond normal depreciation allowances. It’s intended to spur capital purchases by all business taxpayers, small, mid-sized and large.

Before the TCJA, the IRS limited Bonus Depreciation to new equipment. The law now allows for depreciation on used equipment, though it must be “first use” by the purchasing business. The rules allow Bonus Depreciation to 100 percent for all qualified purchases made between September 27, 2017 and January 1, 2023. Bonus Depreciation then ramps down starting in 2023.


How can both deductions work together?

While each deduction can help businesses deduct purchasing costs for their property, combining them can offer the greatest possible benefits. IRS rules require that most businesses apply Section 179 first, followed by bonus depreciation.

Here’s why you might consider using both deductions: 

  • Limited circumstances for stand-alone 179 benefits.
    The Section 179 expense limit, along with the $2,590,000 phase-out threshold, are now permanent parts of the tax code. However, since Bonus Deprecation now covers new and used equipment, the benefits of Section 179 by themselves would only apply to taxpayers with specific business circumstances.

  • Short-term consistency with the bonus depreciation limit.
    With the Bonus Depreciation limit of 100 percent through 2022, businesses have greater incentive to make near-term purchases. Before the TCJA, was passed, the bonus depreciation limit varied from year to year.

  • Expands qualifying equipment beyond physical hardware.
    The new rules include software, which may mean they can now benefit companies that aren’t necessarily purchasing heavy equipment.


Calculate your potential savings

If you’re wondering how Section 179 and bonus depreciation could affect your business tax deductions, check out the calculator below.


2020 Section 179 and bonus depreciation tax deduction example
Cost of equipment $3,000,000
Section 179 deduction $630,000
Bonus depreciation deduction $2,370,000
Total first year deduction $3,000,0000
Cash savings on purchase: (assuming 21% C-Corp tax bracket) $630,000
Lowered cost of equipment: (after tax savings) $2,370,000

If you’re wondering about how these deductions could affect your equipment financing strategy, we can help. Contact Equipment Finance.

U.S. Bank does not offer tax advice. Contact a qualified tax professional familiar with your specific business circumstance for advice and information regarding how these new rules may apply.

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