Leveraging Section 179 for Optimal Savings in Construction Companies

By Derrick Rebello, CPA & Brad Carlson
Gray, Gray & Gray, LLP

In the dynamic and competitive world of construction, good financial management is pivotal. Construction companies have multiple overheads ranging from labor to machinery, all of which can significantly impact their profitability. However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides some relief in the form of Section 179, an often underutilized gem in the tax code. For construction businesses looking to save money, understanding and strategically using Section 179 can be transformative.

Understanding Section 179

Section 179 of the IRS tax code allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment and/or software acquired during the tax year. In essence, if you buy (or lease) a piece of qualifying equipment, you can deduct the entire purchase price from your gross income, reducing your overall taxable income.

The primary goal behind Section 179 is to incentivize businesses to invest in themselves by purchasing equipment and thereby stimulate the economy. It’s designed especially for small to medium-sized businesses, although larger corporations can also benefit.

Best Practices for Section 179 for Construction Companies

  • Immediate Expense Deduction: Unlike the standard depreciation methods where a business has to wait several years to recoup the costs of an investment, Section 179 allows construction companies to deduct the full price of equipment in the year it’s purchased. This accelerates tax savings and aids in better cash flow management.
  • Diverse Qualifying Equipment: For construction companies, a vast array of equipment qualifies for the Section 179 deduction. This includes machinery, office equipment, vehicles primarily used for business, computer software, and even office furniture.
  • Caps and Thresholds: As of the last update, there’s a cap to the total amount written off ($1,080,000 for 2023), and a limit to the total amount of the equipment purchased ($2,700,000 for 2023). These figures are generous and accommodate the needs of most construction firms.
  • Plan Your Purchases: Consider advancing or delaying equipment purchases based on your taxable income. If you foresee a year where you’ll be earning more, it might make sense to invest in equipment during that year to benefit from a higher deduction.
  • Leasing vs. Buying: While buying equipment might seem like the straightforward choice, leasing can sometimes be more advantageous. Section 179 permits deductions for leased equipment, which can be an excellent option for companies that do not have the upfront capital to buy.

Limitations and Considerations

While Section 179 offers remarkable benefits, it’s not without limitations. There is a spending cap, so if your equipment purchases exceed the set threshold, the Section 179 deduction begins to phase out on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The net income limitation means that your deduction cannot exceed the net taxable business income. Any excess can be carried forward to the next year. Not all equipment qualifies under Section 179. Always double-check the IRS’s latest guidelines or consult with an accountant.

Section 179 is an invaluable tool for construction companies aiming to optimize their tax savings. By understanding its nuances, staying updated on changes, and strategizing equipment purchases, businesses can significantly reduce their taxable income, thus improving their bottom line.

Tax codes, including Section 179, are subject to changes. Keep abreast of any modifications to ensure you’re getting the maximum benefits. Due to the intricacies and nuances in the tax code, always work closely with an accountant who’s familiar with the construction industry. They can guide your decisions to maximize savings.

Derrick Rebello and Brad Carlson are Partners in the Construction Practice Group at Gray, Gray & Gray, LLP, a business consulting and accounting firm that serves the AED and construction industries. They can be reached at (781) 407-0300 or powerofmore@gggllp.com.

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