Written by Marc R Barnes EA
September 25, 2009
As a general rule, software bought for business use must be depreciated over a 36-month period, but there are some important exceptions:

  • Computer software placed in service from January 1, 2003 to December 31, 2010 is eligible for a Section 179 deduction, which means that 100% of the cost of software can be deducted in the year purchased. Starting in 2011, you will no longer be able to use Section 179 to deduct off-the-shelf software.
  • When software comes with a computer, and its cost is not separately stated, it's treated as part of the hardware and is depreciated over five years. However, under Section 179, you can write off a whole computer system (including bundled software) in the first year if the total cost is less than a certain amount ($250,000 in 2009). See IRS Publication 946, How to Depreciate Property.