Section 179 and Death-Must Read!

August 11th, 2019 at 7:17 AM

What tax effect would death, retirement, or disability have on you or your business? 

Here’s an easy example to illustrate. 

Let’s say that in 2017, you purchased for business use a pickup truck with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 6,000 pounds. Asserting that you use the pickup 100 percent for business, you expensed the entire $55,000 cost. 

What happens to that $55,000 expensed amount if you die, retire, or become disabled before the end of the vehicle’s five-year depreciation period? 


If your heirs are not going to pay estate taxes, your death is about as good as it gets. Here’s why: 

Example. Using Section 179, you expensed the entire cost of your $55,000 pickup truck. You die. Your daughter Amy inherits the pickup at its fair market value, which is now $31,000, and sells it immediately for $31,000. Here are the results: 


This is ugly. If you become disabled and you allow your business use of the pickup to fall to 50 percent or below during its five-year depreciable life, you must recapture and pay taxes on the excess deductions generated by the Section 179 deduction. 

To make matters worse, you must use straight-line depreciation in making the excess-deduction calculation. 


With retirement, you have exactly the same problem as you would have if you became disabled. In fact, with retirement, you disable your business involvement, and that makes your pickup truck fail the more-than-50-percent-business-use test, resulting in recapture of the excess benefit over straight-line depreciation. 

Mark S. Fineberg, CPA

Are you overpaying your taxes?
Let's Talk