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Election to Deduct Business Startup Expenses Gets Final Rules

 

August 16, 2011

The IRS on Tuesday issued final regulations (TD 9542) governing elections by individual taxpayers, corporations and partnerships to deduct startup expenses or organizational expenditures. The regulations adopt with a slight change temporary regulations the Service issued in 2008 (TD 9411).

 

The rules provide guidance on the application of section 902 of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (AJCA, PL 108-357), which amended IRC §§ 195(b), 248(a) and 709(b) to allow electing individual taxpayers (in the tax year they begin an active trade or business) and corporations and partnerships (in the tax year they begin business) to deduct up to $5,000 of startup expenses (individuals) or organizational expenditures (corporations and partnerships). The remainder of the start-up or organizational expenses can be amortized over the 180-month period beginning with the month in which the active trade or business begins.

 

The deductible amount is reduced by the amount by which startup or organizational expenditures exceed $50,000; in other words, no first-year deduction (beyond the amount of amortization for the first year) is allowed if startup expenses equal or exceed $55,000. (For tax years beginning in 2010 only, the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (PL 111-240) increased the maximum first-year deduction for individual taxpayers (but not corporations or partnerships) to $10,000 and the phaseout threshold to $60,000.)

 

Except under provisions of the three sections, taxpayers cannot take a deduction for startup or organizational expenditures.

 

The final regulations provide the time and manner of making the election. The election is automatic: An individual taxpayer, corporation or partnership is deemed to have made an election to deduct startup expenditures in the year in which it begins an active trade or business (individual taxpayers) or begins business (corporations and partnerships). The entity may forgo the deemed election by “affirmatively electing” (rather than “clearly electing” as the temporary regulations had stated) to capitalize its startup expenses on a timely filed federal income tax return (including extensions) for the tax year in which the active trade or business begins or it begins business. The election is irrevocable and applies to all startup expenditures.

 

The regulations also provide guidance on the meaning of “begins business” as applied to corporations: If activities “have advanced to the extent necessary to establish the nature of its business operations,” the entity is deemed to have begun business.

 

The final rules are effective on their publication in the Federal Register and apply to expenditures paid or incurred after that date. Taxpayers may also apply them to expenditures paid or incurred after Oct. 22, 2004, to the extent not barred by the limitation period for assessment of tax.

 

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