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Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), your purchase of the vehicle you were leasing did not qualify for either Section 179 expensing or bonus depreciation. But times have changed.

The TCJA made two changes that mean 100 percent bonus depreciation is available on the vehicle you lease and then purchase, regardless of whether you purchase it during the lease term or at the end of the lease. The two technical reasons you can do this are as follows:

  1. During the lease, you had no depreciable interest.
  2. Bonus depreciation is now available on used property.

Technically, the two changes work like this:

  • While you were leasing the vehicle, you had no depreciable interest in the vehicle. The lessor depreciated the vehicle. You, the lessee, paid rent.
  • Your purchase of the vehicle that you were leasing is the purchase of a vehicle that you had NOT used under the bonus depreciation law, because you did not have a depreciable interest in it at any time.

Example. You pay $32,000 for a pickup truck that you have been leasing for business purposes. The pickup truck has a gross vehicle weight rating of 6,531 pounds, and your mileage log proves 90 percent business use. You may use bonus depreciation to deduct the $28,800 business cost of the pickup ($32,000 x 90 percent).

Note the difference: As with prior law, with Section 179 expensing, you get no additional deductions. But with bonus depreciation, you can expense your entire business cost.

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