The costs of developing oil, gas, or geothermal wells are ordinarily capital expenditures. You can usually recover them through depreciation or depletion. However, you can elect to deduct intangible drilling costs (IDCs) as a current business expense. These are certain drilling and development costs for wells in the United States in which you hold an operating or working interest. You can deduct only costs for drilling or preparing a well for the production of oil, gas, or geothermal steam or hot water.
You can elect to deduct only the costs of items with no salvage value. These include wages, fuel, repairs, hauling, and supplies related to drilling wells and preparing them for production. Your cost for any drilling or development work done by contractors under any form of contract is also an IDC. However, see Amounts paid to contractor that must be capitalized, later.
You can also elect to deduct the cost of drilling exploratory bore holes to determine the location and delineation of offshore hydrocarbon deposits if the shaft is capable of conducting hydrocarbons to the surface on completion. It does not matter whether there is any intent to produce hydrocarbons.
If you do not elect to deduct your IDCs as a current business expense, you can elect to deduct them over the 60-month period beginning with the month they were paid or incurred. taxmap/pubs/p535-029.htm#en_us_publink1000144836
Amounts paid to a contractor must be capitalized if they are either:
- Amounts properly allocable to the cost of depreciable property, or
- Amounts paid only out of production or proceeds from production if these amounts are depletable income to the recipient.
You elect to deduct IDCs as a current business expense by taking the deduction on your income tax return for the first tax year you have eligible costs. No formal statement is required. If you file Schedule C (Form 1040), enter these costs under "Other expenses."
For oil and gas wells, your election is binding for the year it is made and for all later years. For geothermal wells, your election can be revoked by the filing of an amended return on which you do not take the deduction. You can file the amended return for the year up to the normal time of expiration for filing a claim for credit or refund, generally, within 3 years after the date you filed the original return or within 2 years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.taxmap/pubs/p535-029.htm#en_us_publink1000144838
If you capitalize the drilling and development costs of geothermal wells that you place in service during the tax year, you may be able to claim a business energy credit. See the instructions for Form 3468 for more information. taxmap/pubs/p535-029.htm#en_us_publink1000144839
If you capitalize your IDCs, you have another option if the well is nonproductive. You can deduct the IDCs of the nonproductive well as an ordinary loss. You must indicate and clearly state your election on your tax return for the year the well is completed. Once made, the election for oil and gas wells is binding for all later years. You can revoke your election for a geothermal well by filing an amended return that does not claim the loss. taxmap/pubs/p535-029.htm#en_us_publink1000144840
You cannot deduct as a current business expense all the IDCs paid or incurred for an oil, gas, or geothermal well located outside the United States. However, you can elect to include the costs in the adjusted basis of the well to figure depletion or depreciation. If you do not make this election, you can deduct the costs over the 10-year period beginning with the tax year in which you paid or incurred them. These rules do not apply to a nonproductive well.