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Final Regulations on 100 Percent Bonus Depreciation Issued, Along With New Proposals
October 28, 2019

FINAL REGULATIONS: Written Binding Contract Rules
Constructed property. The proposed regulations provided that property manufactured, constructed, or produced for the taxpayer by another person under a written binding contract entered into prior to the manufacture, etc., of the property is acquired pursuant to a written binding contract. Thus, if the contract was entered into before September 28, 2017, the 100 bonus rate did not apply.

That rule was scrapped in response to negative feedback. Instead the final regulations provide that such property is treated as self-constructed property, and the contract is ignored for purposes of determining when the property is deemed acquired. The acquisition date is now the date that the taxpayer begins manufacturing, constructing, or producing the property as determined under rules similar to those that apply to 50 percent bonus property.

Acquisition date. The final regulations provide that the acquisition date of property acquired pursuant to a written binding contract is the later of:

  • the date on which the contract is entered into;
  • the date on which the contract is enforceable under state law;
  • if the contract has one or more cancellation periods, the date on which all cancellation periods end; or
  • if the contract has one or more contingency clauses, the date on which all conditions subject to such clauses are satisfied.
Liquidated damage clause. When a contract has multiple damage provisions, the final regulations clarify that only the provision with the highest damages is taken into account in determining whether the contract limits damages.

Qualified Improvement Property
The IRS once again declined to make qualified improvement property placed in service after 2017 eligible for bonus depreciation. A legislative change is required to give this property its intended 15-year recovery period. With a 15-year recovery period, qualified improvement property will qualify for bonus depreciation under the general rule that allows bonus depreciation on property with an MACRS recovery period of 20 years or less.

Used Property
Predecessor defined. Property previously used by the taxpayer or a predecessor of a taxpayer does not qualify for bonus depreciation if the taxpayer or predecessor had a depreciable interest in the property. The final regulations define "predecessor" as:

  • a transferor of an asset to a transferee in a transaction to which Code Sec. 381(a) applies;
  • a transferor of an asset to a transferee in a transaction in which the transferee's basis in the asset is determined, in whole or in part, by reference to the basis of the asset in the transferor's hands;
  • a partnership that is considered as continuing under Code Sec. 708(b)(2);
  • the decedent in the case of an asset acquired by an estate; or
  • a transferor of an asset to a trust.
Depreciable interest look back rule. The final regulations do not define a "depreciable interest" because this is a facts and circumstances issue. However, a five-year look back period is provided for determining whether a taxpayer or predecessor held a depreciable interest in property.

Substantially renovated property. If a taxpayer places substantially renovated property in service and the taxpayer or a predecessor previously had a depreciable interest in the property before it was substantially renovated, the taxpayer's or predecessor's prior depreciable interest does not prevent the taxpayer from claiming bonus depreciation. Property is substantially renovated if the cost of the used parts is not more than 20 percent of the total cost of the substantially renovated property, whether acquired or self-constructed.

Syndication transactions. A lessor who reacquires property in a syndication transaction is not treated as having a prior depreciable interest in the property.

The final regulations permit a partnership to claim bonus depreciation on the portion of a Code Sec. 743(b) basis increase that is attributable to built-in gain under Code Sec. 704(c), even if the partnership is using the remedial allocation method. An exception is provided for publicly traded partnerships that need to maintain fungibility for publicly traded partnership units.

If a partnership interest is acquired and disposed of during the same tax year, the bonus deduction is not allowed for any Code Sec. 743(b) adjustment arising from the initial acquisition. However, if a partnership interest is purchased and disposed of in a "step-in-the shoes" Code Sec. 168(i)(7) transaction in the same tax year, bonus on the section 743(b) adjustment is allowed. The section 743(b) adjustment is apportioned between the purchaser/transferor and the transferee.

The final regulations also clarify the treatment of qualified property transferred in a Code Sec. 721(a) transaction to a partnership in the same tax year that the qualified property is acquired by the transferor if the partnership has another partner who previously had a depreciable interest in the qualified property. In this situation, the qualified property is deemed placed in service by the transferor during that tax year, and the bonus deduction is allocated entirely to the transferor and not to the partnership. Thus, the contributing partner has contributed property with a zero basis to the partnership, and the contributed property is Code Sec. 704(c) property in the hands of the partnership.

Film, Television, and Theatrical Productions
The final regulations clarify that a used qualified film, television, or live theatrical production does not qualify for bonus depreciation. Also, the basis of a qualified film, television, or live theatrical production is reduced by the deduction claimed under Code Sec. 181 before computing the bonus deduction.

Using ADS
Using the alternative depreciation system (ADS) to determine the adjusted basis of a taxpayer's qualified business investment (under Code Sec. 250(b)(2)(B) or Code Sec. 951A(d)(3)) or the adjusted basis of a taxpayer's tangible assets for allocating business interests expense between excepted and non-excepted trades or businesses (under Code Sec. 163(j)) does not cause a taxpayer's tangible property to be ineligible for bonus depreciation.

Public Utility Property
An example is added to clarify that the 100 percent bonus rate does not apply to self-constructed property of a regulated public utility if construction begins after September 27, 2017, and the property is placed in service in a tax year beginning after 2017.

Effective Date
The final regulations apply to qualified property placed in service during or after the tax year that includes the date of publication in the Federal Register. However, a taxpayer may choose to apply the final regulations in their entirety to qualified property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017, provided the taxpayer consistently applies all rules in the final regulations. Additionally, a taxpayer may rely on the proposed regulations issued on August 8, 2018, to qualified property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017, in tax years ending before the date of publication of the final regulations.

PROPOSED REGULATIONS: Acquired and Self-Constructed Components
A taxpayer may elect to treat components of a larger self-constructed property that are acquired or self constructed after September 27, 2017, as eligible for the 100 percent bonus rate, even though manufacture, construction, or production of the larger self-const
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