Accelerate Your Tax Benefits with Cost Segregation

Owning residential rental property or non-residential commercial property comes with a significant tax advantage: depreciation. Depreciation allows you to deduct a portion of the property's value each year, reducing your taxable income without requiring any additional cash outlay. However, standard depreciation methods can be slow, spreading deductions over 27.5 years for residential properties and 39 years for non-residential properties. Fortunately, there's a strategy that can speed up these deductions and enhance your tax benefits—cost segregation.

What is Cost Segregation?

Cost segregation is a tax planning strategy that involves identifying and reclassifying components of a property to accelerate depreciation. Instead of treating the entire property as a single unit depreciated over the long term, cost segregation separates out elements that can be depreciated more quickly. These elements include:

By reclassifying these elements, property owners can take advantage of shorter depreciation periods. Personal property can often be depreciated over 5 or 7 years, and land improvements over 15 years, significantly accelerating tax deductions in the early years of ownership.

Benefits of Cost Segregation

Conducting a Cost Segregation Study

To implement cost segregation, a study must be conducted to identify which components of the property qualify for accelerated depreciation and to determine their depreciable basis. These studies are typically performed by engineers or tax professionals who specialize in this area. While there are less expensive methods available, the IRS views studies conducted by qualified professionals as more reliable.

When to Consider Cost Segregation

Cost segregation is most beneficial when performed in the same year you purchase, build, or remodel your property. However, it can also be done in later years, particularly when you have sufficient rental or passive income to fully utilize the accelerated deductions.

Potential Drawbacks

Cost segregation may not be suitable for every property owner. For instance, if the accelerated deductions result in losses that cannot be deducted due to passive loss rules, or if you plan to sell the property soon and face recapture of the deductions as ordinary income, the strategy may not be advantageous.


Cost segregation is a powerful tool for property owners looking to maximize their tax benefits. By accelerating depreciation, you can achieve significant first-year deductions, enhance cash flow, and optimize your tax efficiency. If you're considering this strategy, consult with a tax professional to determine if cost segregation is right for your property and financial situation.

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