Economic Stimulus Benefits Owners of Horse Businesses

The Economic Stimulus Act signed into law by President Bush on Feb. 13, 2008 includes two tax incentives that would allow a much bigger write-off for horses and other property purchased and placed in service during 2008, according to an advisory from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

The incentives, according to the NTRA, are:

Expense Allowance Increased

The first incentive would increase the expensing allowance for horses purchased and placed into service in 2008, from $128,000 to $250,000. This expensing allowance applies to farm equipment and most other depreciable property. Once total purchases of horses and other eligible depreciable property during 2008, reach $800,000, the expense allowance goes down one dollar for each dollar spent on eligible property over $800,000.

To illustrate the expensing allowance, assume a horse business purchases $750,000 of depreciable property in 2008, including $650,000 for horses. That business can write off $250,000 on its 2008 tax return and depreciate the balance. If instead, purchases were $900,000, the expense allowance would go down by $100,000. In either case, the amount of the purchases not expensed may also be eligible for bonus depreciation, as explained below.

New Bonus Depreciation

The second incentive brings back 50% first-year bonus depreciation for horses and most other depreciable property purchased and placed in service during 2008. It does not apply to property that has a depreciation life of over 20 years. Also, as was the case when bonus depreciation was available in 2003 and 2004, the property must be new- the original use of the horse or other property must commence with the taxpayer. For horse to be eligible, it cannot have been used for any purpose before it is purchased.

To illustrate bonus depreciation, assume that in 2008, a business pays $500,000 for a colt to be used for racing and $50,000 for other depreciable property, bringing total purchases to $550,000. The young colt had never been raced or used for any other purpose before the purchase. The business would be able to expense $250,000 (as explained above), deduct another $150,000 of bonus depreciation (50% x the $300,000 remaining balance), and take regular depreciation on the $150,000 balance.

(Originally published at  

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