A dentist friend just bought expensive new x-ray equipment for her office, taking a last shot at 50% bonus depreciation, a tax code freebie that expires Dec.

31. “It’s coming to an end,” says Thomas Butler, a CPA and tax principal at Berdon LLP in New York City. After five years of bonus depreciation, his business owner clients have gotten used to it, so he’s warning them the party is over. “Everyone’s focused on the Bush tax cuts expiring, but the backdoor stuff like this is going to cause their rates to go up,” he says.

With 50% bonus depreciation, a company can deduct half the cost of “qualified business property” in the very first year, provided the useful life of the investment is 20 years or less. (So machinery qualifies, new buildings don’t.)

So if you’ve got it in your budget to buy stuff – a new stove for a restaurateur, a Cadillac Escalade for a real estate agent – buy it and place it in service (that means use it) before Jan. 1. If your budget calls for buying it in the first quarter of 2013, accelerate the purchase if your cash flow allows, Butler says.

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