Beneficial Change in IRS Policy: The Partial Disposition Election

The IRS has introduced a significant change in its repair regulations, offering a partial disposition election that benefits property owners when replacing a structural component, such as a roof, on their office building or rental property. Previously, replacing a structural component like a roof meant the old roof’s remaining depreciation continued on your books, which was often an unattractive result. However, with this new policy, property owners have reason to be thankful.

Beneficial Change in IRS Policy

The IRS now allows property owners to elect a “partial disposition” deduction. This election means that when you replace an old roof, you can deduct the undepreciated basis of the old roof rather than continue depreciating it. This change not only simplifies your financials but also provides an immediate tax benefit.

Advantages of the Partial Disposition Election

The partial disposition election offers several advantages for property owners:

1. Immediate Deduction

With this election, you can claim an immediate tax deduction for the undepreciated basis of the old component.

2. Beat the Recapture Tax

By eliminating the old component, you avoid the capital gains recapture tax of up to 25 percent, technically known as “unrecaptured Section 1250 gain,” when you sell the property.

Example of the Partial Disposition Election

Consider a scenario where you replace an old roof that initially cost $100,000 and has $40,000 of depreciation remaining. Under the partial disposition election, you can deduct this $40,000 immediately rather than depreciating it over the remaining useful life. Additionally, you avoid paying the unrecaptured Section 1250 gain tax on the $60,000 of depreciation you have already taken.

How the Partial Disposition Election Works

To better understand the workings of the partial disposition election, let’s delve into the detailed steps and considerations involved:

Step 1- Identifying the Structural Component

First, it’s crucial to identify the structural component being replaced. This could be a roof, HVAC system, plumbing, or any other significant part of the property. The cost and depreciation details of this component must be accurately recorded.

Step 2 – Calculating the Undepreciated Basis

Next, calculate the undepreciated basis of the component. This is the original cost of the component minus the accumulated depreciation up to the date of replacement.

Step 3- Electing the Partial Disposition

Electing the partial disposition involves making an election on your tax return for the year the replacement occurs. This election allows you to write off the undepreciated basis of the old component.

Step 4 – Recording the New Component

After writing off the old component, record the cost of the new component on your books. This new component will start depreciating from its installation date.

Detailed Tax Benefits of the Partial Disposition Election

The partial disposition election offers several detailed tax benefits beyond the immediate deduction and recapture tax avoidance:

1. Simplified Financial Reporting

By removing the old component’s undepreciated basis from your books, your financial reporting becomes more straightforward. This simplification reduces the complexity of your depreciation schedules and improves the accuracy of your financial statements.

2. Improved Cash Flow

The immediate tax deduction for the undepreciated basis of the old component improves your cash flow. This benefit is particularly significant for property owners who regularly replace structural components, as it provides a recurring cash flow advantage.

3. Strategic Tax Planning

The partial disposition election allows for strategic tax planning. Property owners can time their replacements to maximize tax benefits, aligning with their broader financial and operational goals.

4. Compliance with IRS Regulations

Making the partial disposition election ensures compliance with IRS regulations. By accurately reflecting the disposition of old components and the acquisition of new ones, property owners avoid potential penalties and audits.

Practical Considerations for Property Owners

While the partial disposition election offers significant benefits, there are practical considerations property owners must keep in mind:

a. Detailed Record-Keeping

Maintaining detailed records of the cost and depreciation of structural components is crucial. Accurate record-keeping ensures the correct calculation of the undepreciated basis and supports the partial disposition election.

b. Professional Guidance

Given the complexity of tax regulations, seeking professional guidance is advisable. Tax professionals can help property owners navigate the election process, ensuring all requirements are met and maximising tax benefits.

c. Long-Term Financial Planning

Incorporating the partial disposition election into long-term financial planning is essential. Property owners should consider the timing of replacements, the impact on cash flow, and the overall financial strategy to make informed decisions.

d. Coordination with Property Management

For property owners with multiple properties or large portfolios, coordinating with property management teams is crucial. Effective communication ensures that replacements are documented correctly and that the partial disposition election is applied consistently across all properties.


The IRS’s introduction of the partial disposition election marks a beneficial change for property owners. By allowing the deduction of the undepreciated basis of old components, this election simplifies financial reporting, improves cash flow, and offers strategic tax planning opportunities.

Property owners should maintain detailed records, seek professional guidance, and incorporate this election into their long-term financial planning to fully leverage its benefits. With these steps, the partial disposition election can become a valuable tool in managing the financial and tax aspects of property ownership.

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