The cost of an improvement to a business asset is normally a capital expense. However, you can elect to deduct the costs of making a facility or public transportation vehicle more accessible to and usable by those who are disabled or elderly. You must own or lease the facility or vehicle for use in connection with your trade or business.
A facility is all or any part of buildings, structures, equipment, roads, walks, parking lots, or similar real or personal property. A public transportation vehicle is a vehicle, such as a bus or railroad car, that provides transportation service to the public (including service for your customers, even if you are not in the business of providing transportation services).
You cannot deduct any costs that you paid or incurred to completely renovate or build a facility or public transportation vehicle or to replace depreciable property in the normal course of business. taxmap/pubs/p535-038.htm#en_us_publink1000208926
The most you can deduct as a cost of removing barriers to the disabled and the elderly for any tax year is $15,000. However, you can add any costs over this limit to the basis of the property and depreciate these excess costs. taxmap/pubs/p535-038.htm#en_us_publink1000208927
The $15,000 limit applies to a partnership and also to each partner in the partnership. A partner can allocate the $15,000 limit in any manner among the partner's individually incurred costs and the partner's distributive share of partnership costs. If the partner cannot deduct the entire share of partnership costs, the partnership can add any costs not deducted to the basis of the improved property.
A partnership must be able to show that any amount added to basis was not deducted by the partner and that it was over a partner's $15,000 limit (as determined by the partner). If the partnership cannot show this, it is presumed that the partner was able to deduct the distributive share of the partnership's costs in full. taxmap/pubs/p535-038.htm#en_us_publink1000208928
John Duke's distributive share of ABC partnership's deductible expenses for the removal of architectural barriers was $14,000. John had $12,000 of similar expenses in his sole proprietorship. He elected to deduct $7,000 of them. John allocated the remaining $8,000 of the $15,000 limit to his share of ABC's expenses. John can add the excess $5,000 of his own expenses to the basis of the property used in his business. Also, if ABC can show that John could not deduct $6,000 ($14,000 – $8,000) of his share of the partnership's expenses because of how John applied the limit, ABC can add $6,000 to the basis of its property.taxmap/pubs/p535-038.htm#en_us_publink1000208929
You can deduct your costs as a current expense only if the barrier removal meets the guidelines and requirements issued by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. You can view the Americans with Disabilities Act at www.ada.gov/pubs/ada.htm
The following is a list of some architectural barrier removal costs that can be deducted.
- Ground and floor surfaces.
- Parking lots.
- Doors and doorways.
- Toilet rooms.
- Water fountains.
- Protruding objects.
- Symbols of accessibility.
You can find the ADA guidelines and requirements for architectural barrier removal at www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/reg3a.html
The following is a list of some deductible transportation barrier removal costs.
- Rail facilities.
- Rapid and light rail vehicles.
You can find the guidelines and requirements for transportation barrier removal at www.fta.dot.gov
Also, you can access the ADA website at www.ada.gov
for additional information.
To be deductible, expenses of removing any barrier not covered by the above standards must meet all three of the following tests.
- The removed barrier must be a substantial barrier to access or use of a facility or public transportation vehicle by persons who have a disability or are elderly.
- The removed barrier must have been a barrier for at least one major group of persons who have a disability or are elderly (such as people who are blind, deaf, or wheelchair users).
- The barrier must be removed without creating any new barrier that significantly impairs access to or use of the facility or vehicle by a major group of persons who have a disability or are elderly.
If you elect to deduct your costs for removing barriers to the disabled or the elderly, claim the deduction on your income tax return (partnership return for partnerships) for the tax year the expenses were paid or incurred. Identify the deduction as a separate item. The election applies to all the qualifying costs you have during the year, up to the $15,000 limit. If you make this election, you must maintain adequate records to support your deduction.
For your election to be valid, you generally must file your return by its due date, including extensions. However, if you timely filed your return for the year without making the election, you can still make the election by filing an amended return within 6 months of the due date of the return (excluding extensions). Clearly indicate the election on your amended return and write "Filed pursuant to section 301.9100-2." File the amended return at the same address you filed the original return. Your election is irrevocable after the due date, including extensions, of your return. taxmap/pubs/p535-038.htm#en_us_publink1000208932
If you make your business accessible to persons with disabilities and your business is an eligible small business, you may be able to claim the disabled access credit. If you choose to claim the credit, you must reduce the amount you deduct or capitalize by the amount of the credit.
For more information about the disabled access credit, see Form 8826.