How to “use” Depreciation and why it’s in your K-1?

Financial Planning Dentist

How to “use” Depreciation:

Basic Definition: Depreciation is a method used to allocate the cost of a tangible asset (like a building, machine, or vehicle) over its useful life. Since assets wear out or become obsolete over time, they lose value. Depreciation is a way to recognize this decrease in value on financial statements and for tax purposes.

Simple Analogy: Imagine you buy a car for $20,000, and you expect it to last for 10 years. Each year, the car loses a bit of its value. So, instead of deducting the entire $20,000 from your income in the year you buy the car, you deduct a portion of it each year over the 10 years. This annual deduction is the depreciation expense.

Depreciation in your K-1:

What’s a K-1?: Schedule K-1 is a tax form used in the U.S. for partnerships, S corporations, and certain trusts. It represents an individual’s share of income, deductions, credits, etc., from these entities. If you invest in one of these entities, you receive a K-1 detailing your portion of the income or loss.

Why Depreciation is Relevant: When a partnership (or similar entity) owns tangible assets like real estate or equipment, those assets get depreciated. This depreciation provides a tax deduction for the entity, thereby reducing its taxable income. If you’re an investor in that entity, your share of that depreciation appears on your K-1. On your personal tax return, this can offset other income, potentially reducing the amount of tax you owe.

In simpler terms, depreciation on a K-1 represents your piece of a tax benefit stemming from the tangible assets the business entity owns and uses. This benefit can reduce your taxable income, which could potentially lower the amount of taxes you need to pay.


These are Typical Sources of Depreciation in the expenses of an investment:

Furnishing and Fixtures

Definition: These are movable furniture, fittings, or other equipment that are used in a business or home but are not integral to the building.

Depreciation: Typically, these are depreciated over a 5 to 7-year period using the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) for U.S. tax purposes.

Laundry Equipment:

Definition: Equipment specifically designed for cleaning fabrics, such as washing machines, dryers, and ironing machines.

Depreciation: Often depreciated over a 5 to 7-year life using MACRS.


Definition: Electronic devices used to process data and perform tasks.

Depreciation: Typically, computers are depreciated over a 5-year period using MACRS.


Definition: Vehicles primarily designed for on-road use.

Depreciation: Generally depreciated over a 5-year period using MACRS, but there are specific rules and limits, especially for passenger vehicles.

Personal Property:

Definition: This can refer to items that aren’t permanently attached to or part of the real estate. It could include machinery, tools, or other movable properties.

Depreciation**: The period varies but often falls in the 3 to 7-year range, depending on the specific type of property and its use.

Capital Improvements:

Definition: Upgrades made to enhance the value of a property or extend its lifespan. This might include things like a new roof or an added wing to a building.

Depreciation: The depreciation schedule depends on the nature of the improvement and what it’s related to. For example, if it’s an improvement to a building, it might be depreciated over 27.5 years (for residential property) or 39 years (for commercial property).


Definition: Structures like houses, office complexes, or warehouses.

Depreciation: In the U.S., residential rental property is depreciated over 27.5 years, while commercial property is depreciated over 39 years using the straight-line method.

Land Improvements:

Definition: Enhancements to a piece of land, such as landscaping, driveways, walkways, fences, and parking lots.

Depreciation: These are generally depreciated over a 15-year period using MACRS.



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