19.10 Computers Bought for Work

Computers (and peripherals) are treated as “listed property” subject to deduction restrictions: To get a first-year expensing deduction (42.3) or to claim any type of depreciation, the computer must be used for the convenience of your employer, which means your use of the computer satisfies a substantial business need of your employer. The computer must also be required as a condition of your job, which means that you cannot properly do your job without it. The IRS strictly interprets these requirements.

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image Court Decision
Tax Court Allows Computer Deduction
The Tax Court allowed a first-year expensing deduction to a working couple who used the same home computer given these facts: The husband, a professor, used it to store historical data; the wife, a state transportation planner, used it to do extensive number crunching. What apparently won the decision for the couple was evidence that (1) the husband did not have access to a computer at the university, and (2) the state office in which the wife worked did not have funds to buy a computer. The court held that the use of the computer was necessary for them to properly do their jobs, and as the purchase of a computer spared their employers from having to provide them with computers, the purchase was for the employers’ convenience.
In a later case, a telemarketing sales manager ...

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