Auto Focus

Small Fleets, Do You Qualify for a Tax Deduction of Up to $139,000?

While the tax breaks have lessened from the last two years, fleet buyers have a few tax benefits to take advantage of in 2012 — though one will expire at the end of this year.

Editor's note: For the most updated information regarding 2013 depreciation and Section 179 tax deductions, click here.

As 2012 winds down, it’s time to start figuring out what tax breaks you can take advantage of on the fleet vehicles you put into service this year.

 When you purchase or lease vehicles for your business that you place in service in the 2012 calendar year, you could earn a tax deduction of up to $139,000 under Internal Revenue code Section 179.

 You may also be able to take an additional first year special depreciation allowance on certain vehicle purchases as well.

 As you should already know, Section 179 deductions are available for most new and used capital equipment. For the 2012 tax year, the deduction limit under Internal Revenue code Section 179 is $139,000, but to get the full benefit you would place in service no more than $560,000 of “Section 179 property” during the year. (If you spend more than $560,000 there is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount you may take in the deduction.)

 The Full Deduction

The type of vehicle determines the amount of deduction you can take. True work vehicles such as medium-duty and vocational trucks get the full $139,000 deduction in aggregate. Other vehicles that fit this standard include heavy-duty vehicles (not SUVs) with cargo areas at least six feet in interior length (such as full-sized pickup beds), vehicles that can seat nine or more passengers and vehicles with a fully-enclosed driver’s compartment and no seating at all – in other words, passenger and cargo vans.

 Vehicles on this list include passenger and cargo van models such as Ford Econoline, Chevy Express, GMC Savana and Mercedes Sprinter, as well as pickups such as Chevy Silverado, Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 and their heavier brothers. Watch out, because some crew cab pickups with short boxes may not qualify.

Smaller Deductions

Other vehicles get a $25,000 per-vehicle deduction, such as SUVs with more than 6,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight (GVW). Those include the likes of the Chevy Tahoe, Ford Expedition and Mercedes GL-Class SUV.

 Smaller deductions exist for cars, trucks and vans that don’t meet those guidelines but are used more than 50% for business. For those vehicles placed in service in 2012, the Section 179 deduction is limited to $11,060 for cars and $11,160 for trucks and vans.

 Certain vehicles may fall into gray areas in terms of which categories they belong, so consult your tax professional for details.

Depreciation Bonus

But don’t forget the special depreciation bonus. The bonus depreciation allowance was 100% for a portion of 2010 and all of 2011, and was reduced to 50% for 2012.

Note that bonus depreciation can be taken on new equipment only, and that goes away entirely when 2012 ends.

Will the end of bonus depreciation hurt the economic recovery? Ultimately, it would be hard to establish a direct cause and effect. But it is sure to dampen investment in capital equipment. Let’s see what happens in regards to fleet sales in the last three months of this year and the first few months of 2013. I predict a spike on year-over-year comparisons and then a drop moving into 2013.

 So if you’re going to buy fleet in the next few months, don’t wait until after Dec. 31!




  1. Miami Rent A Car Plus [ September 13, 2012 @ 06:44AM ]

    This article was great help.

  2. Fox Ford Commercial [ September 20, 2012 @ 12:54PM ]

    Very timely ... who knows whether the tax break will be continued in 2013.

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Author Bio

Chris Brown

Executive Editor

Chris is the executive editor of Business Fleet Magazine and Auto Rental News. He covers all aspects of the fleet world.

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