Posted: October 17th, 2013
Tax Deduction in Repairs
Tax Deduction in Repairs
A) Although it is a question of degree whether a repair to plant is on capital or revenue account, every repair must improve the nature of the asset
Expenditure can be deducted for repairs to premises that are used in the process of generating assessable income (section 25.10 under ITAA97). If the premises are also used for other purposes, then deduction should be of a reasonable amount. Deductions cannot be made for capital expenditure. The key issue in this case is whether repairs are included under the capital account or the revenue account. Including repairs under a capital account would mean that they are not deductible. If they are included in the revenue account, they are deductible.
All expenditure in a business must be designated as either capital or revenue. To establish this, the effect of the expenditure on the business’s outlay is checked. If the expenditure has an enhanced effect on the outlay of the business, then it is capital expenditure. If the expenditure simply allows the business to continue operating at its current level, then it is revenue (Marriot, Edwards & Mellett, 2001). Repairs must also be allocated to either the capital account or the revenue account. This designation to either account is what determines whether the repairs will be deductible or not.
When looking to see if a repair is deductible, several criteria must be met. These criteria determine whether repairs will be capitalized or not. It is crucial to outline which repairs are capitalized which ones are not. Any repairs that are made to improve or alter the property are capitalized. This is because they enhance the outlay of the business. This also includes any repairs made in the process of renovating the business premises. Capitalization means that the repairs are included in the capital account as opposed to the revenue account. Such repairs are not deductible (Marriot, Edwards & Mellett, 2001).
Other repairs do not have any impact on the outlay of a business. For instance, upgrading a computer’s software would help it run better but repairing damaged hardware will only help it run, as it should be. Such a repair does not improve the business’s outlay; it only reinstates it to the standard level. Repairs resulting from wear and tear would be included in this category as routine day-to-day repairs. Once included in the revenue account, these repairs become deductible.
The IRS provides further clarification on this. It states that a repair can only be considered deductible if it keeps your property in “a normal efficient operating condition”. If a repair meets that condition, it is considered a business expense and goes into the revenue account. Alternatively, if the repairs are part of a reconditioning plan aimed at making your property more apt for your business, then they are capitalized. This includes reconditioning, improving or altering your property (Internal Revenue Service [IRS], 2013).
Section 8.1 of ITAA97 also has clarification on the issue of deductible repairs. The section states that deductions cannot be made for losses of a private or capital nature. Additionally, deductions cannot be made if the repairs are made to property or premises that are used to generate exempt income. Repairs that are capitalized can be considered the same as the losses of a capital nature. The exemptions in section 8.1 therefore go hand in hand with stipulations made by the IRS.
B) Deductible repairs
Section 8-1 under ITAA97 on general deductions states that, a person can deduct from their assessable income any loss or outgoing so long as it was incurred in the process of generating assessable income, and also if it was incurred in the process of conducting a business with the aim of generating an assessable income. There are several exceptions to this. Deductions cannot be made for loss of a capital nature or a private nature. In addition, deductions cannot be made if the loss was incurred in the process of generating exempt income. Another exemption is that deductions do not apply for capital expenditure.
Capital expenditure refers to “all capitalized costs during the year for both new and used structures and equipment chargeable to fixed asset account” (U.S. Dept of Commerce, 1992, p. 2). When applied to structures, capital expenditure would refer to all the costs that are incurred in the acquisition, construction and preparation of a building or structure for its intended use. In Kieran’s case, capital expenditure is seen in the improvements that he made to the premises. The cost of adding walls and doors to create offices and the cost of repainting the walls is considered capital expenditure. These expenses are therefore not deductible.
Capital improvements are any costs that add to the utility of a business for more than one accounting period (Eisen, 2007). It is usually considered that, without the improvement, the use of the asset will be limited. These expenses are usually capitalized, meaning that they are attached to the initial cost of the asset. Capital improvements are, therefore, a part of capital expenditure (Eisen, 2007). In Kieran’s case, the upgrades that were made to the computer systems fell under capital improvements and, by extension, capital expenditure. These upgrades are therefore not deductible as repairs.
The office party that Kieran held could be considered an entertainment expense. The rules on entertainment expenses state that these expenses can cover clients, customers, suppliers and even employees (Fishman, 2013). In Kieran’s case, it is likely that he was entertaining employees. However, the expenses he listed were not for the actual party but damages to the premises because of the party. According to Fishman, one is not allowed to deduct expenses for the use of an entertainment facility including the costs of depreciation (2013). Kieran’s office was the entertainment facility and therefore, any repairs to damage from the party are not deductible.
On the rent that Kieran paid, the IRS states that rent can be deducted as an expense, but only if the rent is for property used in business (IRS, 2013). The rent that Kieran paid for his office space qualified for deduction because he used the premises for his debt collection business. This business generated his assessable income. Additionally, the rent did not qualify for any of the exemptions stated by the IRS such as unreasonable rent. However, this rent does not qualify for deduction as a repair. It qualifies only because of being rent.
Lastly, Kieran made two other repairs. He spent $900 repairing the computer and used $360 to replace the taps in the kitchen sink. These repairs fall well within the conditions stipulated in section 25.10. They were made to the property that Kieran used to generated assessable income. Additionally, they did not qualify for any of the exemptions stated under section 8.1. Therefore, the only amounts that Kieran could claim as a deduction for repairs were the $360 used to replace the taps in the kitchen and the $900 used to repair the computer systems.
Eisen, P. J. (2007). Accounting. Hauppauge, N.Y: Barron’s Educational Series.
Fishman, S. (2013). Tax deductions for professionals. Berkeley, Calif: Nolo
Marriott, P., Edwards, J. R., & Mellett, H. J. (2001). Introduction to accounting. London: Sage Publications Ltd
United States. (1992). Annual capital expenditures. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census
Internal revenue Service. 2013, March 4. Business expenses. Retrieved from www.irs.gov/pub/irspdf/p535.pdf
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