Pasadena TX CPA

Building Riches: Depreciation in Real Estate Tax Savings

When you acquire a rental property, the IRS permits you to allocate the property's cost over its useful life, enabling a reduction in your taxable income—a benefit commonly known as the depreciation deduction.

Depreciation deduction stands as one of the most substantial advantages in real estate. Employing it effectively enables you to retain more of your rental income rather than channeling it into taxes.

Which properties can be depreciated?

  1. Residential Rental Property: This category covers houses, apartments, condominiums, and any residential property rented out for dwelling purposes. These properties depreciate over 27.5 years using the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS).

  2. Commercial Rental Property: This pertains to buildings or spaces used for business operations. Examples include office buildings, retail spaces, warehouses, etc. They depreciate over 39 years under MACRS.

  3. Improvements: Permanent alterations made to the property—like landscaping, fences, driveways, and specific renovations—qualify for depreciation. However, the depreciation period may differ based on the improvement type and classification.

  4. Furnishings and Appliances: In furnished rental units, furniture, appliances, carpets, and other personal property within the rental can be depreciated separately from the building. Typically, these items have shorter depreciation periods than the structure.

Land cannot be depreciated due to its indefinite useful life, classifying it as a non-depreciable asset.

Date Placed in Service

Depreciation commences from the date the property is put into service (i.e., when it becomes available for rent). Therefore, placing the property in service early in a tax year can maximize deductions, allowing for a full year's depreciation deduction.

Cost Segregation Study

Determining how swiftly an asset can be depreciated depends on its asset class. A well-executed cost segregation study becomes a powerful tool for real estate investors to optimize depreciations.

This study aims to maximize depreciation deductions by reclassifying assets into shorter depreciation periods allowed by the tax code.

Here's how it works:

  1. Identification of Components: Specialists meticulously examine the property to identify elements categorized as shorter-lived assets, such as electrical systems, plumbing, flooring, specialized lighting, or specific architectural features.

  2. Categorization and Analysis: Each component is categorized based on its characteristics and function. The study deeply analyzes construction documents, blueprints, and other records to determine the cost and lifespan of each asset.

  3. Reclassification: Assets identified as personal property or land improvements are reclassified for shorter depreciation periods, usually 5, 7, or 15 years, compared to the standard 27.5 or 39 years for residential and commercial properties, respectively.

  4. Detailed Report: The findings are compiled into a comprehensive report detailing the reclassified assets, their respective costs, and recommended shorter depreciation periods. This report serves as documentation for IRS compliance.

Cost segregation studies offer significant benefits for:

  • Newly constructed properties
  • Renovated or expanded buildings
  • Properties acquired from previous owners
  • Any property with substantial construction costs

However, expertise is crucial for cost segregation, and it should be conducted by experienced professionals to ensure accuracy and compliance with IRS regulations.


Our experienced professionals can help you take advantage of deductions and special depreciation allowances. Stay ahead of the latest tax changes with Pasadena, TX CPASmall business CPA, and Deer Park CPA.


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