Qualified improvement property is any improvement to the interior portion of a building that is nonresidential real property (think office buildings and shopping centers) if you place the improvement in service after the date you place the building in service.
Lawmakers intended qualified improvement property to be 15-year property and eligible for 100 percent bonus depreciation. Not so.
Due to a drafting error in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), qualified improvement property is currently 39-year property and ineligible for bonus depreciation.
One possible workaround for some taxpayers: qualified improvement property is Section 179 property, so you can elect to expense it using Section 179. But as you probably know, Section 179 is not available to everyone and has its limitations, which can affect your ability to claim it.
Congress has several bills that contain the fix. For example, the Tax Technical and Clerical Corrections Act, introduced in the House of Representatives, would fix the qualified improvement property issue retroactively, along with many other TCJA issues.
The best solution is to wait. If you can, hold off filing your tax return until after lawmakers fix the problem retroactively. Then you can claim bonus depreciation on your 2018 qualified improvement property on your extended 2018 tax return.
If Congress retroactively fixes the qualified improvement property issue after you file your 2018 tax return, you’ll have to amend your tax return in order to get the benefits of qualified improvement property being 15-year property.