Let’s look at an example of a 250,000-square-foot warehouse. The cost of the relighting was $140,000, and the benefits were as follows:
The net after-tax benefit of the tax deductions and the first year energy savings exceeded the cost of the retrofit. In other words, the ROI was under two year!
How Does This All Work?
The IRS splits assets into two categories — 1245 and 1250 — in essence, separating assets into buckets based on their lives. Lighting, by IRS definition, is a 1250 category asset and has an accounting life of 39 years. To qualify for accelerated depreciation (and the one-year bonus depreciation), the asset must have a life of 20 years or less. The lighting 1245/1250 definitions are below, as is the related information on the bonus depreciation.
A word of warning: Should you decide to take the 1250 asset as a one-year depreciation when you should not have (whether mistakenly or intentionally) and the IRS realizes what you have done, the consequences of violating these accounting rules can be severe and include reclassification of the assets from shorter-lived assets back to building assets and the deduction would be disallowed. If the deduction was excessive, the IRS can impose accuracy-related penalties or even fraud penalties, so it’s very important to have a professional properly assess, identify, and document these assets.
The federal Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 included a 50 percent first-year bonus depreciation provision for eligible renewable-energy systems acquired and placed in service in 2008. This provision was extended (retroactively for the entire 2009 tax year) under the same terms by The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Bonus depreciation was renewed again in September 2010 (retroactively for the entire 2010 tax year) by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. In December 2010, the provision for bonus depreciation was amended and extended yet again by The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010.
Under these amendments, eligible property placed in service after September 8, 2010 — and before January 1, 2012 — qualifies for 100 percent first-year bonus depreciation. For 2012, bonus depreciation is still available, but the allowable deduction reverts from 100 percent to 50 percent of the eligible basis. To qualify for bonus depreciation, a project must satisfy the following criteria:
From the EPAct to abandonment and utility rebates, the economics of a lighting retrofit have never looked better and provide incentives that allow many businesses to afford new lighting systems that they otherwise could not have afforded. To achieve these benefits, there are some tax and compliance issues that you need to address. The EPAct tax deductions and the 1245/1250 analysis require a high level of tax and engineering expertise, which can help you to maximize your upgrades and retrofits so that you get the most bang for your buck.
We are not tax experts, so you are encourage to speak to your tax advisor(s).
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