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By Jason Dudas, CPA

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, contractors are now able to take a deduction for the full cost of machinery and equipment purchase made each year. This new provision is referred to as 100% bonus depreciation and there is no limitation on the amount of purchases. The provision is available for assets acquired and placed-in-service after September 27, 2017.

Under the old tax law, bonus depreciation was limited to 50% of the asset purchase price. The new provision also allows bonus depreciation to be applied to both new and used property. Moreover, prior bonus depreciation rules were limited to new purchases only. This new provision allows contractors immediate cost recovery on equipment purchases in the year of purchase. The chart below shows the phase-out of bonus depreciation under the new provision.

Placed-in-service year Bonus depreciation percentage
Sept. 28, 2017 – Dec. 31, 2022 100 percent
2023 80 percent
2024 60 percent
2025 40 percent
2026 20 percent
2027 and thereafter None


Not only did the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act provide 100% bonus depreciation, it also increased the limitation for section 179 deduction on new or used purchases. The new tax law increased the 179 deduction limit to $1,000,000 and the investment phase-out threshold to $2,500,000. This compared to the old tax law deduction limitation of $510,000 in 2017 and $2,030,000 phase-out threshold. The section 179 increases are effective for property placed in service after December 31, 2017.

Section 179 Deduction 2019 2018
Maximum Section 179 deduction $  1.02 million $  1.0 million
Phase out for Section 179 (annual equipment purchases exceeding) $  2.55 million $  2.5 million


A second key change in the tax bill is the new Section 199A pass-through entity deduction. For tax years starting after December 31, 2017, a 20% deduction will be allowed for taxpayers who have qualified business income from an S-Corporation, Partnership or Sole Proprietor, subject to limitations.

The 20% pass-through deduction is limited to the lesser of 20% of their pass-through business income or the greater of the following two options – Option A is 50% of his/her share of W-2 Wages paid with respect to qualified business income and Option B is the sum of 25% of his/her share of W-2 Wages plus 2.5% of the unadjusted basis of qualified property. The wages or wages plus capital limitation do not apply to taxpayers with taxable incomes below $315,000 (joint filers) or $157,500 (other filers). Taxpayers eligible to claim the full 20% deduction on qualified business income will incur a maximum effective tax rate of 29.6% on qualified business income.

Thresholds for married joint filers Marginal tax rate on ordinary income 2018 Marginal tax rate on business income eligible for the pass-through deduction
2017 2018 2017 2018
$0 – $18,650 $0 – $19,050 10.0% 10.0% 8.0%
$18,650 – $75,900 $19,050 – $77,400 15.0% 12.0% 9.6%
$75,900 – $153,100 $77,400 – $165,000 25.0% 22.0% 17.6%
$153,100 – $233,350 $165,000 – $315,000 28.0% 24.0% 19.2%
$233,350 – $416,700 $315,000 – $400,000 33.0% 32.0% 25.6%
$416,700 – $470,700 $400,000 – $600,000 35.0% 35.0% 28.0%
$470,700 + $600,000 + 39.6% 37.0% 29.6%


Another currently active change is an increase in the exempt amount for small contractors.  Previously, companies with gross receipts under $10 million were exempt from using the percentage of completion method for recognizing taxable income on long-term construction contracts. Starting 2018, this exemption amount has been increased to $25 million.  Also note that long-term construction contracts that started prior to December 31st, 2017 and all commercial contracts regardless of start date are required to apply the percentage of completion method for alternative minimum tax purposes. Although the alternative minimum tax was repealed for C-Corporations, it was not repealed for pass-through entities that flowed down to the individual levels.

Finally, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act had little effect on research and development (R&D) credits that may be available to contractors. R&D credits are credits that can have significant tax savings.  To find out if your company qualifies for the R&D credit, please contact the construction team at Ryan and Wetmore.


The following table provides additional federal tax information for 2019, as compared with 2018. Many of the dollar amounts are unchanged and some changed only slightly due to inflation.

Social Security/ Medicare 2019 2018
Social Security Tax Wage Base $132,900 $128,400
Medicare Tax Wage Base No limit No limit
Employee portion of Social Security 6.2% 6.2%
Employee portion of Medicare 1.45% 1.45%
Individual Retirement Accounts 2019 2018
Traditional and Roth IRA Individual, up to 100% of earned Income $   6,000 $   5,500
Roth and traditional IRA additional annual “catch-up” contributions for account owners age 50 and older $   1,000 $   1,000
Qualified Plan Limits 2019 2018
Defined Contribution Plan limit on additions on Sections 415(c)(1)(A) $  56,000 $ 55,000
Defined Benefit Plan limit on benefits (Section 415(b)(1)(A)) $225,000 $220,000
Maximum compensation used to determine contributions $280,000 $275,000
401(k), SARSEP, 403(b) Deferrals (Section 402(g)), & 457 deferrals (Section 457(b)(2)) $  19,000 $  18,500
401(k), 403(b), 457 & SARSEP additional “catch-up” contributions for employees age 50 and older $    6,000 $   6,000
SIMPLE deferrals (Section 408(p)(2)(A)) $   13,000 $ 12,500
SIMPLE additional “catch-up” contributions for employees age 50 and older $    3,000 $   3,000
Compensation defining highly compensated employee (Section 414(q)(1)(B)) $125,000 $120,000
Compensation defining key employee (officer) $180,000 $175,000
Driving Deductions 2019 2018
Business mileage, per mile 58 cents 54.5 cents
Transportation Fringe Benefit Exclusion 2019 2018
Monthly commuter highway vehicle and transit pass, qualified parking $  265 $  260
Estate Tax 2019 2018
Federal estate tax exemption $11.4 million $11.18 million
Maximum estate tax rate 40% 40%
Annual Gift Exclusion 2019 2018
Amount you can give each recipient $15,000 $15,000


Peter Ryan, CPA, MBA (pryan@ryanandwetmore.com) and Jason Dudas, CPA (jdudas@ryanandwetmore.com) both specialize in the construction industry. For questions regarding the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act please contact Peter and Jason directly.




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