How To Calculate Straight Line Depreciation

what is straight line depreciation

We define the method, show how to depreciate an asset using the Straight-line method, and also show the accounting transactions involved when depreciating. However, the simplicity of a straight-line basis is also one of its biggest drawbacks. One of the most obvious pitfalls of using this method is that the useful life calculation is based on guesswork. For example, there is always a risk that technological advancements could potentially render the asset obsolete earlier than expected.

Straight line depreciation is helpful for business owners as it allows them to buy equipment and supplies they need without having a drastic effect on profits. If you buy assets for your business, the purpose of the assets is to make your business more profitable.

This method is very useful for calculating the depreciation charge on the assets of lesser value like furniture and fixtures. Under this method, assets can be written off completely (i.e. to zero). As the depreciation in this method is calculated what is straight line depreciation on the original cost of the asset at the constant rate, so the value of an asset is equally spread out over the useful life of the asset. Divide the total depreciable amount by the useful life of the asset to get the annual depreciation amount.

Depreciation Methods

If production declines, this method lowers the depreciation expenses from one year to the next. This method is regarded as the most accurate representation of devaluation, as it more closely reflects the actual wear and tear that assets go through. When using the units of production method, more resources are needed to collect enough data over long periods of time.

Divide the estimated full useful life into 1 to arrive at the straight-line depreciation rate. Straight Line Depreciation is a depreciation method used to calculate an asset’s value that reduces throughout its useful life.

Why do companies use straight line depreciation?

Straight-line depreciation is an accounting method that is most useful for getting a more realistic view of your profit margins in businesses primarily using long-term assets. These types of assets include office buildings, manufacturing equipment, computers, office furniture and vehicles.

Don't overestimate the salvage value of an asset since it will reduce the depreciation expense you can take. Bench gives you a dedicated bookkeeper supported by a team of knowledgeable small business experts. We’re here to take the guesswork out of running your own business—for good.

However, in cases wherein the initial years the cost of repairs is low and will increase in the following years, the straight-line method will increase the charge on profit. Depreciation recapture involves paying taxes on gains you had previously deducted for in the form of depreciation. Every year, you write down the same amount of depreciation as QuickBooks an expense on your tax return, and this is done for a preset number of years. As explained above, the number of years varies based on the type of asset, and how long it’s expected to last. This is another method that accelerates a property’s devaluation; although it doesn’t diminish as rapidly as it does with the double declining-balance formula.

Software Features

Further, the full value of the asset resides in the accumulated depreciation account as a credit. Combining the total asset and accumulated depreciation amounts equals a net book value of $0. Using the facts and circumstances presented, we can use LeaseQuery’s present value calculator to calculate the present value of the lease payments.

what is straight line depreciation

Every asset you acquire has a set value at the time of purchase, but that value changes over time. As a business owner, it’s important to know how to accurately report the value of your assets each year, and one of the best methods for doing so is called straight-line depreciation.

When you buy a new appliance for one of your units, you can depreciate that single item over five years for tax purposes. Finally, inherited properties raise a whole new question of cost basis. If you inherit a rental property, typically you’ll use the fair market value of the property at the time of your benefactor’s assets = liabilities + equity death as the cost basis for depreciation. The most common scenario for depreciation recapture, at least for real estate investors, occurs with rental properties. As the name suggests, straight-line depreciation requires that you spread out the original cost of the property evenly, over a set period of time.

How Do You Calculate Straight Line Depreciation?

Then the depreciation expenses that should be charged to the build are USD10,000 annually and equally. This method does not apply to the assets that are used or performed are different from time to time. The straight-line method is the simplest method for calculating depreciation. When a business purchases a fixed asset, such as a vehicle, furniture or computer, the entire amount cannot be written off in the first year. Instead, the entire amount is spread out across the time span of the asset when it is of use. In the absence of any information on entity’s policy, depreciation is usually calculated only for the period asset was in use and adjusting the expense by the fraction of period if necessary.

what is straight line depreciation

The useful life of this machine is six years, and the salvage value in eight years will be $900. You want to compute yearly depreciation expense, using the straight-line method.

How To Calculate Straight

When usage is the key factor in calculating depreciation, use the units-of-production method. Instead of being based on a life span in years, its life span is measured by the total units you can expect it to produce. First of all, real estate investors rarely buy properties on January 1.

  • The salvage value is the total value of the asset when it reaches the end of its useful life.
  • Divide the depreciable asset cost by the number of years in the asset’s useful life – this will give you the amount of annual depreciation.
  • The assessor puts the land value at $50,000, and the improvement value at $100,000.
  • First, we need to find book value or the initial capitalization costs of assets.
  • This loss of efficiency and the increase in repairs is not accounted for when using the straight line depreciation method.

Businesses may be able to use these two accounting categories to their advantage if they have particular challenges. For example, an organization that is struggling with cash flow may choose to rent a large piece of equipment instead of purchasing it. By doing so, that company can deduct the leasing cost in the current tax year. In our explanation of how to calculate straight-line depreciation expense above, we said the calculation was (cost – salvage value) / useful life. This method is calculated by adding up the years in the useful life and using that sum to calculate a percentage of the remaining life of the asset.


For tax purposes, both tangible property, for example, furniture, iPads, and equipment and intangible property, such as computer software, copyrights, and patents are depreciable. Depreciation is recorded on the income and balance statements and it's a key component in understanding your business' profitability. Let's take a deeper look into what it takes to calculate an asset's depreciation using the straight line method. If you're an entrepreneur, you'll have to account for your business' assets according to the generally accepted accounting principles . There are a few ways to calculate depreciation, but straight line depreciation is the simplest method used by accounting professionals. Each of those $1,600 charges would be balanced against a contra account under property, plant, and equipment on the balance sheet. This is known as accumulated depreciation, which effectively reduces the carrying value of the asset.

Intuit Inc. does not warrant that the material contained herein will continue to be accurate nor that it is completely free of errors when published. However, when accounting for every asset in the plant, calculating financials can get tedious. Some CMMS providers solve this issue by having a depreciation tracking functionality. This essentially puts all the asset-related information in one place, so you can easily make more sense of it.

But, they still have to calculate the depreciation for the tax deduction purposes. The straight-line depreciation method is the simplest method for calculating an asset’s loss of value or in other words depreciation over a period of time. This method is helpful in bookkeeping as it helps in spreading the cost of an asset evenly over the useful life of the asset. This method is also useful in calculating the income tax deductions, but only for some assets such as patents and software. The declining balance method is another way of calculating asset depreciation. This method calculates more depreciation expenses in the beginning and uses a percentage of the book value of the asset instead of the initial cost.

We’ll use an office copier as an example asset for calculating the straight-line depreciation rate. As buildings, tools and equipment wear out over time, they depreciate in value. Being able to calculate depreciation is crucial for writing off the cost of expensive purchases, and for doing your taxes properly. The depreciation rate is the rate that fixed assets should be charged based on the year estimate. For example, if the assets using for four years, then the rate will be 25%, and if the assets use for five years the rate will be 20%.

The double-declining balance method results in higher depreciation expenses at the beginning of an asset’s life and lower depreciation expenses later. This method is useful for assets that depreciate quickly after purchase, like computers, which lose their value very quickly, even though they might operate well for a long time. For the first year, the double declining balance method takes the depreciation rate from the straight-line method and doubles it. For subsequent years, this method uses the same doubled rate on the remaining balance, instead of being based on the original purchase value. The IRS allows businesses to use the straight-line method to write off certain business expenses under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System .

Author: Jody Linick
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