When family ties boost your tax bill

February 1, 2008

My father and I are in practice together, but soon I'll relocate and start a solo practice. I'd like to buy some of the equipment I'll need from Dad, but a friend ran into a tax hitch when he did the same thing with his brother a few years ago. He doesn't remember the details. What's the potential problem?

When family ties boost your tax bill

My father and I are in practice together, but soon I'll relocate and start a solo practice. I'd like to buy some of the equipment I'll need from Dad, but a friend ran into a tax hitch when he did the same thing with his brother a few years ago. He doesn't remember the details. What's the potential problem?

When you buy business equipment from a related party, you can't deduct the cost up front as a Section 179 small business expense. Instead you must depreciate it over time-five years for simple office equipment such as copiers and computers; seven years for office furniture, cell phones, and fax machines; and even longer for more-durable types of equipment. For details on depreciating equipment, see IRS Publication 946, How to Depreciate Property, available at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p946.pdf.