Show download pdf controls
  • Uniform capital allowance system – Disposal of a depreciating asset

    The uniform capital allowance (UCA) system applies from 1 July 2001. Under UCA rules, taxpayers calculate deductions for the decline in value of a depreciating asset based on how it's used for a taxable purpose, for example, to produce assessable income.

    When you cease to hold, or to use a depreciating asset you must calculate a balancing adjustment. You need to work out this amount to include in your assessable income, or to claim it as a deduction. If the depreciating asset has been used partly for a non-taxable purpose, the balancing adjustment amount is reduced to reflect only the taxable purpose proportion of the asset's use. A capital gain or capital loss can arise at the time of the balancing adjustment. This is only to the extent the asset has been used for a non-taxable purpose.

    The following information will help you with the disposal of a depreciating asset. This is particularly dealing with sales, the most common type of balancing adjustments. However these principles apply equally to all types of balancing adjustment events.

    Find out about:

    See also:

    Simplified depreciation rules

    If you are using the simplified depreciation rules, you generally won't use the UCA rules. Under the simplified depreciation rules, you can claim an immediate deduction for most depreciating assets costing less than $30,000.

    Business with a turnover of up to $10 million can also claim a deduction for each asset purchased and first used or installed ready for use, up to the following thresholds:

    • $30,000 from 7:30 pm (AEDT) on 2 April 2019 until 30 June 2020
    • $25,000 from 29 January 2019 until before 7:30 pm (AEDT) on 2 April 2019
    • 20,000 before 29 January 2019.

    Your business clients can't immediately claim a deduction for individual assets that cost $30,000 or more. They can continue to deduct these over time using the small business pool or general depreciation rules, depending on their turnover.

    You can use the simplified depreciation rules if you are a small business entity (2007–08 and later income years).

    You must use the simplified depreciation rules for income years where you were in the simplified tax system (2006–07 and earlier income years).

    For more details refer to Simplified depreciation – rules and calculations

    How to account for the disposal of a depreciating asset

    The disposal of a depreciating asset is a balancing adjustment event. You must compare the asset's termination value, with its adjustable value at that time. If the two figures are different, the difference is the balancing adjustment amount.

    Generally, the termination value is the amount you receive for the asset on its disposal. It also includes the market value of any non-cash benefits such as goods or services you receive for the asset. The termination value is reduced to exclude GST payable if the disposal is a taxable supply.

    A depreciating asset's adjustable value at a particular time is generally its cost less its decline in value up to that time.

    The balancing adjustment amount is applied if the termination value of a depreciating asset:

    • is more than its adjustable value, the difference is included in your assessable income
    • is less than its adjustable value, the difference is an allowable deduction.

    The balancing adjustment amount is applied in the year the balancing adjustment event occurs.

    Special balancing adjustment calculations apply to luxury cars and to cars where different methods have been used to substantiate car expense deductions.

    Sale of a depreciating asset used wholly for a taxable purpose

    If the depreciating asset is used wholly for a taxable purpose, the full balancing adjustment amount is applied. No capital gain or capital loss arises.

    Example – sale used wholly for a taxable purpose

    John operates a small printing business and decides to sell an old photocopier for $2,750. Assuming the sale is a taxable supply, the termination value is reduced by the $250 GST payable. This means that the reduced termination value of the photocopier is $2,500 ($2,750 less $250).

    If at the time of sale the adjustable value of the photocopier is $2,000, John must include $500 in his assessable income ($2,500 less $2,000).

    If at the time of sale the adjustable value of the photocopier is $2,700, John would claim a deduction of $200 ($2,700 less $2,500).

    End of example

    Sale of a depreciating asset used only partly for a taxable purpose

    If a depreciating asset is used only partly for a taxable purpose, you reduce the balancing adjustment amount to reflect that non-taxable use. The reduced balancing adjustment amount is included in, or deducted from, your assessable income under the UCA provisions.

    The non-taxable purpose proportion of the difference between the asset's termination value and its cost can constitute a capital gain or a capital loss under the capital gains provisions.

    Example – sale used partly for taxable purpose

    John also sells a computer. The termination value of the computer is $600 and its cost is $1,000. The computer has been used 40% for private purposes. At the time of sale, the computer's adjustable value is $700. John can claim a $60 deduction for the reduced balancing adjustment amount (60%, the taxable purpose proportion, of $700 less $600). A capital loss of $160 also arises (40%, the non-taxable purpose proportion, of $1,000 less $600).

    End of example

    Sale of a depreciating asset used wholly for a non-taxable purpose

    If a depreciating asset is used wholly for a non-taxable purpose, the balancing adjustment amount is reduced to nil.

    The difference between the asset's termination value and its cost can constitute a capital gain or a capital loss under the capital gains provisions.

    How to account for the costs of selling a depreciating asset

    Generally, you reduce the termination value of a depreciating asset by any costs of disposal, such as advertising costs. You can only reduce the termination value if the costs are not deductible.

    Offsetting a balancing adjustment amount against a replacement depreciating asset

    If the disposal of the asset was involuntary, you can offset the balancing adjustment amount that would otherwise be included in your assessable income against the cost of a new replacement asset (or against the adjustable value of an asset already held). An involuntary disposal of a depreciating asset occurs if an asset you own is:

    • lost or destroyed
    • compulsorily acquired by an entity (other than a foreign government agency)
    • disposed of to an entity (other than a foreign government agency) after they serve a notice on you inviting you to negotiate a sale agreement. They must have informed you that, if the negotiations are unsuccessful, the asset will be compulsorily acquired
    • land or an asset affixed to land which is disposed of to an entity (other than a foreign government agency) where a mining lease was compulsorily granted over the land (or would have been compulsorily granted over the land), the lease significantly affected (or would have significantly affected) your use of the land and the entity to which you disposed of the land is the lessee.

    For the offset to be available, the replacement asset must be used wholly for a taxable purpose. It must have been acquired in the period starting a year before the disposal and ending a year after the income year in which the disposal happened. The Commissioner of Taxation can agree to extend this time limit.

    The rules in relation to compulsory acquisition of assets were amended on 22 June 2006 to extend to cover compulsory acquisitions by private acquirers.

    These amendments apply to events that happen after 1.00pm (by legal time in the ACT), 11 November 1999 and include a provision that allows more time for taxpayers to obtain an amended assessment to benefit from the rules.

    See also:

      Last modified: 19 Jul 2019QC 16294