4+ Examples of an Asset That Cannot Be Depreciated

asset that cannot be depreciated

Understanding assets and depreciation is important for any business. It has a significant impact on how you account for your assets and the amount of tax you pay.

In this guide, we’ll look at the importance of assets and depreciation, provide examples of assets that cannot be depreciated, and explain everything you need to know for tax purposes.

Find out how to identify an asset that cannot be depreciated.

What Are the Examples of Assets You Cannot Depreciate?

Certain assets cannot be depreciated. These assets don’t lose their value over time.


Land, for example, cannot be depreciated because it is never exhausted, and it doesn’t lose its inherent value.

Soil can lose its nutrients, and you may be able to depreciate some expenses connected to land preparation.

Buildings wear out, and you can depreciate buildings but not the land they sit on. So, land is an asset you cannot depreciate.

Current Assets

In addition, current assets are not depreciable assets. Current assets are assets that are bought and exhausted within a year. They include amounts payable to your business, prepaid insurance, and certain provisions.

Cash deposits

Cash holdings can’t be depreciated. As purchasing power alters over time due to deflation and inflation, cash maintains the same value. A $100 bill will always be $100, even in cases when $100 doesn’t purchase as much as it used to.

Personal assets

Personal belongings such as clothing and your home, inventories, and property preserved for investment purposes cannot be depreciated.

Others include:

  • Art, coins, or souvenirs
  • Bonds and stocks (Your Microsoft stock would be an example of an asset that cannot be appreciated.)
  • Income-producing structures that are currently dormant

 Note that expenditures like sales taxes and any testing fees should be added to your cost base for a depreciated item.

What Is an Asset?

An asset is any resource with current or potential economic value. Assets are acquired by people, businesses, or governments with the belief that they will provide future gain, generate cash flows, cut back costs, or increase sales.

They are developed or purchased to increase the value of a business or to enhance its operations.

An asset may also represent access that other people or companies do not have. Additionally, a right or other sort of access may be legally enforceable, meaning a firm may use financial resources as it sees fit. An owner may restrict or prohibit their use.

For something to be regarded as an asset, a company must possess the legal right to it as of the date of its financial statements. Assets fall into various categories:

  • Fixed assets
  • Current (or short-term) assets
  • Intangible assets
  • Financial investments

What Are the Major Classes of Assets?

Assets are divided into two major classes of assets: tangible (physical) assets and intangible (non-physical) assets.

Tangible assets are things your business owns that can be physically touched.

Examples of tangible assets:

  • Inventory
  • Land
  • Office building
  • Equipment
  • Machines
  • Vehicles
  • Securities like bonds, stocks, and cash

Intangible assets provide an economic value even though you cannot physically touch them. Intangible assets include:

  • Computer software
  • Licenses
  • Trademarks
  • Contractual obligations
  • Copyrights
  • Royalties
  • Patents

A company’s public image and goodwill can be considered non-physical or intangible assets of great value.

For accounting purposes, both tangible and intangible assets are shown on your balance sheet.

What Is Depreciation?

Depreciation is the process of deducting the value of an asset for tax purposes. Intangible and tangible assets can be depreciated.

You can deduct a percentage of the depreciation costs each year rather than the total cost in one tax year. You decide how much money will be written off annually. This allows you to manage your finances.

The useful lifespan of an asset (in years) determines how long you can depreciate it. For example, the estimated useful life of a laptop is five years.

Assets are classified into several categories for tax depreciation. If your organization uses a contrasting method of depreciation for your financial records, you can determine the asset’s useful life by how long you expect to utilize it for your business.

For instance, the IRS might demand that a laptop be depreciated for five years, but if you know it will be unusable in four years, you can depreciate the equipment over a shorter period.

In the case of intangible or non-physical assets, depreciation is known as amortization.

What Is a Depreciation Schedule?

A depreciation schedule is a table that displays how much each of your assets will be depreciated over the years. It typically includes the following information:

  • The asset’s description
  • Date of purchase
  • The total amount you paid for the asset
  • Expected useful life
  • Depreciation method used
  • Salvage value–how much you can sell it for once it’s past its useful life (e.g., how much a scrapyard would pay for your old work truck)
  • Deductible depreciation amount
  • Cumulative depreciation
  • Asset’s net book value (total paid minus cumulative depreciation)

What Assets Can Be Depreciated (According to the IRS?

The IRS sets guidelines for what kinds of assets you can depreciate. It must meet the following requirements.

  • You possess it.
  • You use it to generate revenue or in your business.
  • You can estimate its useful lifespan.
  • It is expected to last more than one year.

According to the IRS, you can depreciate tangible property, such as:

  • Buildings
  • Machinery
  • Furniture
  • Equipment
  • Vehicles

There are also intangible items you can depreciate, including copyrights, patents, and computer software.

What Is a Depreciation Schedule?

A depreciation schedule is a table that displays how much each of your assets will be depreciated over the years. It typically includes the following information:

  • The asset’s description
  • Date of purchase
  • The total amount you paid for the asset
  • Estimated useful life
  • Depreciation method employed
  • Salvage value–how much you can sell it for once it’s past its useful life (e.g., how much a scrapyard would pay for your old work truck)
  • The depreciation amount deductible in the current year
  • The cumulative depreciation amount
  • The resulting net book value of the asset (total price paid minus any cumulative depreciation)

Why Do Some Assets Depreciate Over Time?

Fixed assets, such as equipment and vehicles, are expensive. These assets become obsolete and must be replaced. Brand new assets are normally more expensive than existing ones. Depreciation measures the value an asset loses due to the current usage through wear and tear, causes like inflation, and the availability of new and better product models.

Depreciation calculates the recovery cost for fixed assets during their useful life. In addition, it eases the tax burden as it trims down taxable income. 


How do I depreciate a capital asset used for personal and business purposes?

Only business usage is eligible for depreciation. For example, if you use your truck 70% for business purposes, you can deduct that amount from your business taxes. The remaining 30% is an asset that cannot be depreciated (Although you may be able to deduct it on your personal taxes.).

If I am in debt for an asset, can I still depreciate it?

Definitely, you can depreciate high-cost assets you’re still paying off as part of your depreciation deduction.

What are the methods of depreciation?

Companies use these five methods to depreciate their assets:

  • Sum-of-years digits
  • Units of production
  • Double-declining balance
  • Straight line
  • Declining balance

What is the best depreciation method?

That really depends on your situation. Many taxpayers prefer the simplicity of straight-line depreciation. The difference between the asset’s value and the assumed salvage value is divided by the years a company requires to use it.

What are the three main factors in determining depreciation?

  • Cost
  • Salvage value
  • Estimated lifespan

Is Depreciation a liability or asset?

Depreciation is listed as an expense on the income statement. It shows the amount of an asset’s value exhausted for that year. Therefore, it is neither a liability nor an asset.

Is depreciation capital loss?

Depreciation occurs due to unintended damage, predicted degeneration, and usual wear and tear, whereas capital loss involves periods of natural disasters and economic hardship.

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