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Dealers hustle as tax plum nears end

December 4 2013: NADA reported that big tax breaks for many buyers of commercial vehicles are scheduled to expire at year end, so automakers and dealers are scrambling to get the word out to small businesses to buy now. The tax breaks, part of federal stimulus legislation spurred by the recession, dramatically front load the depreciation schedules for many large assets, particularly for vehicles of more than 6,000 pounds, such as heavy-duty pickups.

Mitchell Dale, owner of McRee Ford in Dickinson, Texas, said one customer who runs a fleet of about 50 vehicles was scheduled to replace two pickups; instead, he bought seven. "He bought five additional vehicles so he could take advantage of the tax benefits" because his accountant told him to, Dale said. "It is clearly stimulating some business on the commercial side."

The tax breaks available this year can mean first-year depreciation of as much as $46,000 on a $60,000 heavy-duty pickup if a customer takes delivery before Dec. 31.The extra depreciation can reduce business tax bills by lowering taxable income. The deduction under Section 179 of the federal tax code applies to businesses that buy or lease $2 million or less worth of equipment in 2013. Most vehicles of more than 6,000 pounds that are used for business are eligible for 100 percent of the depreciation. But any vehicle used for commercial purposes can qualify for some benefits.

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