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How to Understand Straight-Line Depreciation

1.

Calculate the asset's depreciable life. This is the amount of time you expect to own the asset before it is no longer of any use to you. Computers, for example, tend to last around two years.

2.

Subtract the asset's salvage value. If you buy a computer for $1,000 in 2008 and are able to sell it for $200 in 2010, then your computer's depreciable value is $800 ($1,000 minus $200).

3.

Divide the depreciable value by the amount of time. In this case, the depreciable value is $800, divided by 2--the straight-line depreciation is $400, which can be deducted from your tax return.

Tips and Warnings

  • Make sure straight-line depreciation is your best option. Diminishing depreciation takes the changing value of the asset into account, which is more accurate.


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