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Accelerated depreciation

For most business property, except real estate, the law allows you to depreciate the cost at a rate faster than would be allowed under straight-line depreciation (see definition below.) For example, automobiles and computers are assumed to have a five-year life for tax purposes. With straight-line depreciation you would be permitted to write off 20 percent of the cost each year; the accelerated method generally lets you deduct 20 percent of the business cost the first year, 32 percent the second, 19.2 percent the third, 11.52 percent in years four and five, and the remaining 5.8 percent in the sixth year. It takes six years to fully depreciate the property, thanks to the “midyear” convention, which basically assumes that business assets are put into service in the middle of the year.