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IRS provides a safe harbor method of accounting for passenger automobiles that qualify for the 100-percent additional first year depreciation

IR-2019-14, February 13, 2019

WASHINGTON –The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance today that provides a safe harbor method for determining depreciation deductions for passenger automobiles that qualify for the 100-percent additional first year depreciation deduction and that are subject to the depreciation limitations for passenger automobiles.

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the additional first year depreciation deduction applies to qualified property, including passenger automobiles, acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017, and before January 1, 2027. 

In general, the section 179 and depreciation deductions for passenger automobiles are subject to dollar limitations for the year the taxpayer places the passenger automobile in service and for each succeeding year.  For a passenger automobile that qualifies for the 100-percent additional first year depreciation deduction, TCJA increased the first-year limitation amount by $8,000.  If the depreciable basis of a passenger automobile for which the 100-percent additional first year depreciation deduction is allowable exceeds the first-year limitation, the excess amount is deductible in the first taxable year after the end of the recovery period.

The guidance provides a safe harbor method of accounting for passenger automobiles. The safe harbor allows depreciation deductions for the excess amount during the recovery period subject to the depreciation limitations applicable to passenger automobiles.  To apply the safe-harbor method, the taxpayer must use the applicable depreciation table in Appendix A of IRS Publication 946.  The safe harbor method does not apply to a passenger automobile placed in service by the taxpayer after 2022, or to a passenger automobile for which the taxpayer elected out of the 100-percent additional first year depreciation deduction or elected under section 179 to expense all or a portion of the cost of the passenger automobile. 

Taxpayers adopt the safe harbor method of accounting by applying it to deduct depreciation of a passenger automobile on their return for the first taxable year following the placed-in-service year.

For more information on the additional first year depreciation deduction, see TCJA, Depreciation. For information about other TCJA provisions, visit IRS.gov/taxreform.