Taxation Ruling

TR 2021/3

Income tax: effective life of depreciating assets (applicable from 1 July 2021)

  • Please note that the PDF version is the authorised version of this ruling.
    This Ruling, which applies from 1 July 2021, replaces TR 2020/3 (see paragraph 6 of this Ruling for further details).

Ruling

Exclamation Relying on this Ruling

This publication (excluding appendix) is a public ruling for the purposes of the Taxation Administration Act 1953.

If this Ruling applies to you, and you correctly rely on it, we will apply the law to you in the way set out in this Ruling. That is, you will not pay any more tax or penalties or interest in respect of the matters covered by this Ruling.

What this Ruling is about

1. This Ruling explains the methodology used by the Commissioner of Taxation to make a determination of the effective life of depreciating assets under section 40-100 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997. [1]

2. The effective life of a depreciating asset is used to work out the asset's decline in value (depreciation for income tax purposes). [2]

3. The Commissioner makes the effective life determination having regard to the period the depreciating asset can be used for a purpose specified in subsection 40-100(5) (a specified purpose), one of which is use for a taxable purpose. [3] A deduction may be available under Division 40 for the depreciating asset's decline in value, to the extent that the asset is used for a taxable purpose (see section 40-25).

4. Tables A and B of this Ruling list the effective life determinations made to date.

5. You may choose to use the Commissioner's determination of the effective life of a depreciating asset or you may make your own estimate (see section 40-95). This Ruling's explanation of the methodology used by the Commissioner to make a determination of effective life may assist taxpayers who make their own estimate of the effective life of a depreciating asset.

Previous ruling

6. This Ruling replaces Taxation Ruling TR 2020/3 Income tax: effective life of depreciating assets (applicable from 1 July 2020), which is withdrawn from 1 July 2021. Where the Commissioner's views in that Ruling still apply, they are incorporated into this Ruling.

Ruling

Effective life determination

7. The Commissioner has made a determination of the effective life of certain depreciating assets which takes effect from 1 July 2021. This determination has been incorporated into Tables A and B of this Ruling.

8. The date from which an effective life determined by the Commissioner applies is set out in the fourth column of Tables A and B.

Effective life applicable

9. If you first use a depreciating asset or have it installed ready for use within five years of the time (the relevant time):

you entered into the contract to acquire it
you started to construct it, or
you otherwise acquired it,

the effective life that applies is the one in force at the relevant time (see section 40-95).

10. If you do not start to use a depreciating asset or have it installed ready for use within the five-year period, the effective life that applies is the one in force at the date you first use the depreciating asset or have it installed ready for use for any purpose (see section 40-95).

How to use Tables A and B

11. Table A is an industry category table. It lists assets that are specific to a particular industry or for which a particular effective life is appropriate because of the way the asset is used in that industry. Industry headings in Table A are generally drawn from the classification subject categories in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) codes.

You can only use the Table A entries for a listed industry if you are a participant of that industry.
If an asset either corresponds exactly to a description in Table A for the industry in which it is used or it satisfies the general description of an asset used in the functional process of that industry, the effective life is the life specified.
If the particular asset is not listed under your industry heading in Table A, either specifically or under a general functional group or class, you can use a relevant effective life shown in Table B.

12. Table B is an asset category table which covers assets generally.

Taxpayers in an industry can only use Table B entries if the particular asset is not listed under the relevant industry heading in Table A.
If you do not use the asset in an industry specified in Table A and the asset corresponds to a description in Table B, the effective life is the life specified for that description.

13. You must be satisfied that an asset is a depreciating asset [4] before using an effective life determination in either Table A or B. An asset that is a depreciating asset for a particular taxpayer or industry may not necessarily be a depreciating asset for another taxpayer or industry.

14. If a particular asset is not listed in either Table A or B, it means the Commissioner has not made a determination of its effective life. You will need to work out its effective life yourself (see section 40-105 and paragraphs 47 to 50 of this Ruling).

To find an asset for a particular asset category, go to Effective lives (Industry category)

To find an asset using an alphabetical listing, go to Effective lives (By asset)

Date of effect

15. This Ruling applies from 1 July 2021. However, the Ruling does not apply to taxpayers to the extent that it conflicts with the terms of a settlement of a dispute agreed to before the date of issue of the Ruling.

Appendix - Explanation

Exclamation This Explanation is provided as information to help you understand how the Commissioner's view has been reached. It does not form part of the binding public ruling.

16. This Ruling is issued as part of an ongoing review of the Commissioner's effective life determinations.

17. Tables A and B are periodically updated to incorporate further effective life determinations made by the Commissioner as a result of effective life reviews. We consult industry bodies and interested taxpayers during effective life reviews. In some instances, we use reports prepared by independent consultants. An independent review panel also checks each review process to confirm the level of industry consultation was appropriate. The panel typically comprises representatives from the Corporate Tax Association, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, Australian Finance Industry Association and the Australian Taxation Office.

18. The Commissioner has made a determination of the effective life of certain depreciating assets in Tables A and B to take effect from 1 July 2021. The Table A assets in the new determination are assets used in the following industries and industry activities:

horse training (racing)
salt harvesting.

19. The new determination also amends some entries in Table A and inserts new entries in Table B. These changes are also incorporated into the tables.

20. If a particular asset is not listed in either Table A or B, it means the Commissioner has not made a determination of its effective life; it does not indicate that the asset is not a depreciating asset. In some cases, it is due to the difficulties in determining an appropriate effective life that accurately reflects all the facts and circumstances particular to that asset. In these cases, you need to work out its effective life yourself (see section 40-105 and paragraphs 47 to 50 of this Ruling).

21. An asset that is a depreciating asset for a particular taxpayer or industry may not necessarily be a depreciating asset for another taxpayer or industry. This is typically the case where the asset is an improvement to land. For example, effective lives have been determined for swimming pools in Table B. However, these effective life determinations only apply to the swimming pools that are used as plant in a business. A residential property owner cannot use these effective life determinations because a swimming pool used in a residential rental property setting is not plant (and not a depreciating asset) to which Division 40 applies.

How does the Commissioner determine the effective life of a depreciating asset?

22. The Commissioner makes a determination of the effective life of a depreciating asset by estimating the period (in years, including fractions of years) the asset can be used by any entity for a specified purpose. If relevant for the asset, the Commissioner:

(a)
assumes it will be subject to wear and tear at a rate that is reasonable for the Commissioner to assume
(b)
assumes it will be maintained in reasonably good order and condition, and
(c)
has regard to the period within which it is likely to be scrapped, sold for no more than scrap value, or abandoned (see section 40-100).

23. In determining an effective life, the Commissioner considers the factors listed in paragraph 24 of this Ruling. The list is not exhaustive. For example, in determining the effective life of horticultural plants, issues such as crop management techniques (crop regeneration and topworking or reworking where trees are cut back to the stump) were taken into account along with the listed factors. Where appropriate, each factor is considered based on historical information and future expectations. No single factor is necessarily conclusive and the relative importance of each varies depending on the asset.

24. The factors the Commissioner considers include:

physical life
manufacturing specifications and engineering information
use of the asset in a particular industry
use of the asset in different industries
industry standards
repairs and maintenance
retention period
obsolescence
scrapping or abandonment practices
lease periods
financial analysis, and
market value.

Physical life

25. An asset can be used while it continues to have a physical life, that is, until it is physically exhausted.

26. An effective life determination is an estimate of the period the asset can be used by any entity for a specified purpose. Often an asset is not used for a specified purpose for the whole of its physical life. For example, an asset may be retired from use for a specified purpose but be retained as a source of spare parts. In this instance, the effective life ends when the asset is retired.

27. An asset's physical life can be seen as the outer limit of its effective life. This is a useful starting point for analysing the factors to be considered in determining the effective life of the asset.

Manufacturing specifications and engineering information

28. The effective life of a new asset cannot be based solely on evidence of past use of the asset. The current design may differ for various reasons including advances in technology and different construction materials. Analysing manufacturing specifications and engineering information for the new asset is important when estimating its effective life.

Use of the asset in a particular industry

29. How intensively an asset is used in an industry would have a direct impact on the asset's effective life. In establishing the industry norm, the relevant industry is consulted where possible.

Use of the asset in different industries

30. The use of an asset in different industries is another important factor. For example, using a car in the taxi industry would subject the car to more wear and tear than using a car in another industry. The effective life determined by the Commissioner in each industry would be different, reflecting that different use.

Industry standards

31. Industry standards and regulations may dictate when a particular asset must be retired from use in an industry.

32. There may also be industry standards and regulations that set the level of repairs and maintenance that must be carried out.

Repairs and maintenance

33. It might be suggested that the life of an asset can be extended indefinitely if there is unlimited expenditure on repairs and maintenance. However, paragraph 40-100(6)(b) requires the Commissioner to assume that an asset will be maintained only in reasonably good order and condition. Therefore, an asset's effective life is generally limited by the period it is economic to maintain the asset, even though it is still possible to continue repairs and maintenance to keep it operational.

34. An asset can be subject to such a level of repairs and maintenance that it has been wholly or substantially physically replaced. In those circumstances, the effective life of the asset is considered to have ended and a new asset to have come into place.

Retention period

35. The effective life of an asset is the total period it can be used by any entity for a specified purpose. The retention period is the time a particular taxpayer expects to hold a depreciating asset for any purpose. For example, it is common practice in some businesses to dispose of a car after it has been driven a pre-determined number of kilometres. That would be the retention period for that taxpayer. The effective life of the car, however, would end only when the car cannot be used by any taxpayer for a specified purpose.

Obsolescence

36. The Commissioner considers obsolescence when determining the effective life of an asset.

37. An asset may become obsolete because of commercial or technological reasons.

38. Commercial obsolescence may occur if demand for the goods produced by the asset stops because consumers choose not to buy them, or government regulation affects market demand. It may also occur if the raw material the asset processes becomes unavailable.

39. Technological obsolescence may occur when technology advances and another asset becomes better suited for the relevant purpose for which an existing asset is used. Even so, an asset's effective life does not necessarily end with each technological advance. A taxpayer can still use an asset for a specified purpose even though a newer model exists.

40. There are two types of commercial and technological obsolescence - one can be predicted at the time the asset is first used and one is unpredictable and emerges later. Unpredictable obsolescence cannot be taken into account when estimating effective life. Predicted obsolescence would only be taken into account if it is expected with a high level of certainty across a majority of users.

41. Taxpayers faced with predicted obsolescence that would arise only because of their particular use of the asset may choose to work out the effective life of the asset themselves, rather than adopt the effective life determined by the Commissioner.

Scrapping or abandonment practices

42. Once a taxpayer has scrapped or abandoned an asset, it is presumed it can no longer be used by anyone for a specified purpose. The scrapping of an asset can demonstrate that the asset is either physically exhausted or obsolete. The abandonment of an asset can demonstrate that it is too difficult or costly to remove it from its place of operation.

43. This factor is only relevant to the Commissioner's determination of the effective life of an asset if a general scrapping or abandonment practice can be established across users of the asset.

Lease periods

44. Effective life is the period a depreciating asset can be used by any entity for a specified purpose, so it is unlikely that an asset would be leased for a period greater than its effective life. This generally suggests that the effective life of an asset is no shorter than the period it is leased.

Financial analysis

45. As with lease periods, economic or financial analysis indicating the period over which an asset is intended for use suggests the effective life is no shorter than that period. In many instances, the analysis may only reflect the capital cost recovery period, or the term of a contract, when the asset may in fact be used for a specified purpose by any entity for a much longer time.

Market value

46. The defining character of a depreciating asset is that its value actually falls, or is expected to fall, over time. Therefore, analysing the decline of market value of an asset class is important to the determination of the asset's effective life.

Working out your own effective life

47. The Commissioner only takes account of normal industry practice when estimating effective life. Taxpayers who choose to self-assess, however, can take account of their own particular circumstances of use (see section 40-105).

48. The Commissioner only makes determinations of the effective life of new assets. If you purchase a second-hand asset where its condition justifies a shorter life than that determined by the Commissioner, you can self-assess. A taxpayer who self-assesses the effective life of a depreciating asset acquired after 11.45am, by legal time in the Australian Capital Territory, on 21 September 1999 is no longer required to assume that it is new.

49. Taxpayers can recalculate the effective life of a depreciating asset if the effective life used is no longer relevant because of changed circumstances relating to the use of the asset (see section 40-110). An example could be unpredicted obsolescence or more or less rigorous use than anticipated.

50. For some assets, you do not have a choice to work out the effective life yourself or use an effective life determined by the Commissioner. In addition, the effective life of these assets cannot be recalculated. The choice is not generally available:

for most intangible depreciating assets (see subsection 40-95(7))
if a depreciating asset was acquired from an associate who claimed, or could have claimed, deductions for the asset's decline in value (see subsection 40-95(4))
for a depreciating asset that you started to hold but the user of the asset did not change or is an associate of the former user; for example, under a sale and leaseback arrangement (see subsection 40-95(5)), and
if there has been rollover relief (see subsection 40-345(2)).

Capped lives

51. Where a capped life for a depreciating asset is available (see section 40-102), the asset is marked in Tables A or B with a hash (#) in the third column.

52. From the 2012-13 income year, a capped life of 10 years is available for eligible shipping vessels but only if certain conditions are met (see table item 10 of subsection 40-102(4) and subsection 40-102(4A)).

53. These conditions mean that not all shipping vessels listed under the Water transport and support services (48100 to 48200 and 52110 to 52190) sub-category in Table A will be eligible for the capped life at any given time.

54. For this reason, no shipping vessels have been marked with a hash (#) in the third column of Table A as would occur with other assets that have no additional eligibility requirements for a capped life.

55. Taxpayers need to determine if a particular shipping vessel they hold meets the eligibility requirements of subsections 40-102(4) and (4A) to determine if the capped life can be applied.

Decline in value calculation

56. The effective life shown in Tables A or B is a component of the formula under which the decline in value of the depreciating asset is calculated. [5]

New and reviewed effective lives

57. Assets already reviewed as part of the ongoing review of the Commissioner's effective life determinations are marked with an asterisk (*) in the third column of Tables A and B.

Important terms and definitions in Tables A and B

58. The terms 'freestanding' and 'fixed' describe certain residential rental property assets listed in Table A. 'Freestanding' is also used in Table B for 'light fittings and freestanding lights'. For the purposes of the determination of the effective life of such assets, the terms have the following meanings:

Freestanding - are items designed to be portable or movable; any attachment to the premises is only for the item's temporary stability.
Fixed - are items annexed or attached by any means (for example screws, nails, bolts, glue, adhesive, grout or cement) but not merely for temporary stability.

59. The terms 'environmental control structure' and 'protective structure' are used to describe certain agricultural assets listed in Table A. For the determination of effective life of such assets, the terms have the following meanings:

Environmental control structure - is a structure designed to provide a protective environment within which the operator is able to monitor and manipulate factors influencing the growing environment. This includes factors such as temperature, humidity, air movement, light, water and pests to enable the greatest efficiency in producing the desired product.
Protective structure - is a structure used primarily and principally for protecting a growing product from one or more natural elements such as sun, hail, birds and wind.

60. The terms 'including', 'includes' and 'incorporating' have been used in describing certain assets in Tables A and B. Where used, the terms have the following meanings:

Including or includes - when an entry is described as 'including' or 'includes' other items, these other items are separate assets, each with the same effective life. For example, the entry 'Refrigeration assets (including chillers, compressors, condensers, evaporative coolers and pumps)' indicates that chillers, compressors, condensers, evaporative coolers and pumps are separate assets within the class of refrigeration assets, all of which have the specified effective life.
Incorporating - when an entry is described as 'incorporating' other items, these other items are not separate assets but are merely components of the one single asset being described. For example, the entry 'Conveyor systems (incorporating structures, belts, gearboxes and motors)' indicates that the structures, belts, gearboxes and motors are components of the one asset, the conveyor system.

61. The terms 'hire cars' and 'rental cars' have been used to describe certain assets in Tables A and B. For the determination of effective life of such assets, the terms have the following meanings:

Hire car - is a passenger car hired with a driver, not being a taxi.
Rental car - is a passenger car hired, leased or rented for short-term use without a driver.

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You are free to copy, adapt, modify, transmit and distribute this material as you wish (but not in any way that suggests the ATO or the Commonwealth endorses you or any of your services or products).

ANZSIC categories in Table A

Page
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHING (01110 to 05290) 18
Agriculture 20
Aquaculture 36
Beef cattle farming 29
Beef cattle feedlots 30
Beekeeping 36
Dairy cattle farming 31
Fishing 38
Forestry and logging 38
Forestry support services 39
Fruit and tree nut growing 26
Grain-sheep or grain-beef cattle farming 31
Horse farming 35
Mushroom growing 24
Nursery and floriculture production 22
Other agriculture and fishing support services 39
Pig farming 35
Poultry farming for breeding, eggs and meat 33
Poultry hatcheries 34
Sheep farming 29
Vegetable growing (under cover) 24
Vegetable growing (outdoors) and sugar cane growing 25
MINING (06000 to 10900) 40
Coal mining 43
Construction material mining 50
Gold ore mining 48
Iron ore mining 48
Mineral sand mining 49
Mineral exploration services 52
Nickel ore mining 50
Oil and gas extraction 45
Other mining support services 53
Other non-metallic mineral mining and quarrying n.e.c. 51
Petroleum exploration services 51
MANUFACTURING (11110 to 25990) 54
Adhesive manufacturing 128
Aircraft manufacturing and repair services 170
Alumina production 154
Aluminium smelting 155
Bakery product manufacturing 77
Bakery product manufacturing (non-factory based) 79
Basic inorganic chemical manufacturing 119
Basic organic chemical manufacturing 116
Beer manufacturing (except non-alcoholic beer) 96
Boiler, tank and other heavy gauge metal container manufacturing 159
Cement manufacturing 132
Ceramic product manufacturing 132
Cereal and pasta product manufacturing 76
Cleaning compound manufacturing 125
Clothing manufacturing 103
Concrete product manufacturing 137
Confectionery manufacturing 83
Cured meat and smallgoods manufacturing 61
Dairy product manufacturing 62
Explosive manufacturing 125
Fertiliser manufacturing 124
Footwear manufacturing 104
Fruit and vegetable processing 66
Glass and glass product manufacturing 129
Grain mill product manufacturing 73
Human pharmaceutical and medicinal product manufacturing 124
Industrial gas manufacturing 113
Iron smelting and steel manufacturing 141
Jewellery and silverware manufacturing 172
Knitted product manufacturing 103
Leather tanning, fur dressing and leather product manufacturing 102
Log sawmilling and timber dressing 104
Meat processing 54
Metal coating and finishing 160
Motor vehicle body and trailer manufacturing 167
Motor vehicle manufacturing 160
Natural rubber product manufacturing 129
Natural textile manufacturing 102
Non-ferrous metal casting 155
Oil and fat manufacturing 70
Other basic chemical product manufacturing n.e.c. 126
Other fabricated metal product manufacturing n.e.c. 160
Other food product manufacturing n.e.c. 88
Other manufacturing n.e.c. 172
Other motor vehicle parts manufacturing 168
Other non-metallic mineral product manufacturing 140
Other professional and scientific equipment manufacturing n.e.c. 172
Other transport equipment manufacturing n.e.c. 171
Other wood product manufacturing 105
Paint and coatings manufacturing 128
Paper stationery manufacturing 107
Petroleum refining 111
Photographic, optical and ophthalmic equipment manufacturing 171
Plaster product manufacturing 135
Plywood and veneer manufacturing 105
Polymer film and sheet packaging material manufacturing 126
Poultry processing 59
Prepared animal and bird feed manufacturing 84
Printing 108
Printing support services 110
Pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing 106
Railway rolling stock manufacturing and repair services 168
Ready-mixed concrete manufacturing 136
Reconstituted wood product manufacturing 105
Rigid and semi-rigid polymer product manufacturing 126
Rope, cordage and twine manufacturing 103
Sanitary paper product manufacturing 107
Soft drink, cordial and syrup manufacturing 95
Spirit manufacturing 98
Spring and wire product manufacturing 160
Steel coil roll forming, slitting, blanking and sheet metal forming 156
Sugar manufacturing 79
Textile finishing and other textile product manufacturing 103
Textile floor covering manufacturing 102
Wine and other alcoholic beverage manufacturing 99
Wool scouring 102
Wooden furniture and upholstered seat manufacturing 172
ELECTRICITY, GAS, WATER AND WASTE SERVICES (26110 to 29220) 173
Electricity supply 173
Gas supply 177
Sewerage and drainage services 179
Solid waste collection services 181
Waste remediation and materials recovery services 182
Waste treatment and disposal services 182
Water supply 177
CONSTRUCTION (30110 to 32990) 183
Other heavy and civil engineering construction 185
WHOLESALE TRADE (33110 to 38000) 185
Commission-based wholesaling 188
Petroleum product wholesaling 186
Wool wholesaling 186
RETAIL TRADE (39110 to 43209) 189
Food retailing 192
Fuel retailing 190
Motor vehicle tyre or tube retailing 189
Other store-based retailing 194
Supermarket and grocery stores 192
ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD SERVICES (44000 to 45302) 194
Accommodation 194
Cafes, restaurants, takeaway food services, pubs, taverns bars and clubs (hospitality) 196
TRANSPORT POSTAL AND WAREHOUSING (46100 to 53090) 197
Airport operations and other air transport support services 207
Courier pick-up and delivery services 206
Other air and space transport 204
Other transport n.e.c. 205
Other transport support services n.e.c. 208
Other warehousing and storage services 208
Pipeline transport 205
Postal services 206
Rail freight and passenger transport services 199
Road transport 197
Scenic and sightseeing transport 204
Tramway and light rail passenger transport services 198
Water transport and support services 201
INFORMATION MEDIA AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS (54110 to 60200) 210
Electronic information storage services 218
Internet publishing and broadcasting 216
Library and other information services 219
Motion picture and video activities 210
Motion picture exhibition 212
Radio broadcasting 213
Telecommunications services 216
Television broadcasting 214
FINANCIAL AND INSURANCE SERVICES (62100 to 64200) 219
Banking, building society and credit union operations 219
RENTAL, HIRING AND REAL ESTATE SERVICES (66110 to 67200) 219
Non-residential property operators 227
Rental and hiring services (except real estate) 220
Residential property operators 222
PROFESSIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL SERVICES (69100 to 70000) 228
Advertising services 233
Professional photographic services 233
Scientific research services 228
Scientific testing and analysis services 230
Surveying and mapping services 229
Veterinary services 233
ADMINISTRATIVE AND SUPPORT SERVICES (72110 to 73200) 234
Building and other industrial cleaning services 234
Gardening services 235
Packaging services 236
EDUCATION AND TRAINING (80100 to 82200) 237
HEALTH CARE AND SOCIAL ASSISTANCE (84010 to 87900) 237
Child care services 247
Dental services 242
General practice medical services 239
Hospitals 237
Retirement village and accommodation for the aged operation 245
Optometry and optical dispensing 243
Pathology and diagnostic imaging services 241
Podiatry services 244
Specialist medical services n.e.c. 240
ARTS AND RECREATION SERVICES (89100 to 92099) 249
Amusement parks and centres operation and amusement and other recreational activities n.e.c. 252
Creative and performing arts activities 249
Gambling activities 253
Health and fitness centres and gymnasia operation 249
Horse training (racing) 251
Museum operation 249
Nature reserves and conservation parks operation 249
Sports and physical recreation clubs n.e.c. 250
Sports and physical recreation venues, grounds and facilities operations n.e.c. 250
Squash and tennis court operation 250
OTHER SERVICES (94110 to 96030) 253
Automotive body, paint and interior repair n.e.c. 256
Automotive repair and maintenance 253
Funeral, crematorium and cemetery services 261
Hairdressing and beauty services 261
Laundry and dry cleaning services 262
Other machinery and equipment repair and maintenance 257
Parking services 265
Photographic film processing 264

Commissioner of Taxation
30 June 2021


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