Changing Depreciation Methods


Depreciation is an important accounting concept that allows businesses to allocate the cost of an asset over its useful life. It is a systematic way of recognizing the reduction in value of an asset over time. There are several methods to calculate depreciation, and businesses may choose to change their depreciation methods for various reasons. In this article, we will explore the reasons why businesses may change their depreciation methods, the different depreciation methods available, and the process of changing depreciation methods.

Reasons for Changing Depreciation Methods

1. Change in Accounting Standards

When accounting standards change, businesses may need to alter their depreciation methods to ensure compliance. New standards may require specific methods for certain types of assets, such as the adoption of fair value depreciation for financial reporting purposes.

2. Tax Planning Purposes

Businesses may change their depreciation methods to optimize their tax liabilities. By switching to a more accelerated method, such as double declining balance or units of production, a business can reduce its taxable income in the early years of an asset’s life, resulting in tax savings.

3. Change in Asset Usage

If an asset’s usage pattern changes significantly, it may be appropriate to change the depreciation method. For example, if a vehicle previously used for regular business trips is now primarily used for deliveries, a switch to units of production depreciation, based on miles driven, may better reflect the asset’s wear and tear.

4. Improved Estimations

As businesses gain more experience with an asset, they may discover that their initial estimate of its useful life or salvage value was inaccurate. In such cases, changing the depreciation method allows for more accurate estimations, ensuring the asset’s value is allocated correctly over time.

5. Adoption of New Technology

Technological advancements may render previous depreciation methods irrelevant or ineffective. For instance, the use of advanced software systems in manufacturing processes may require a shift from traditional straight-line depreciation to a method that better captures the asset’s declining value due to rapid obsolescence.

Different Depreciation Methods

1. Straight-Line Depreciation

Straight-line depreciation is the most commonly used method. It allocates the asset’s cost evenly over its useful life. The formula is: (Cost of Asset – Salvage Value) / Useful Life.

2. Declining Balance Depreciation

Two variations of declining balance depreciation are the double declining balance and the sum-of-the-years’ digits methods. These methods allocate higher depreciation expenses in the early years of an asset’s life and decrease them gradually.

3. Units of Production Depreciation

This method allocates depreciation expenses based on the asset’s usage or production output. It is suitable for assets like machinery, vehicles, or equipment where usage can directly correlate to depreciation.

4. Group and Composite Methods

These methods are used when multiple assets of similar nature are grouped together for depreciation purposes. Group depreciation combines the costs of multiple assets, while composite depreciation treats them as a single entity.

5. Fair Value Depreciation

Fair value depreciation adjusts the asset’s value to reflect its current market value. This method is often used for financial reporting purposes in accordance with accounting standards and regulations.

The Process of Changing Depreciation Methods

1. Evaluate the Need for Change

Before changing the depreciation method, businesses should assess the reasons behind the change. Determine if the current method is no longer appropriate or if a different method would provide better alignment with the asset’s characteristics or operational changes.

2. Analyze the Impact

Changing depreciation methods can have significant implications for financial statements and tax liabilities. Businesses should assess the impact on key financial metrics, such as net income, book value, and tax expenses, to understand the short and long-term effects of the change.

3. Consult with Professionals

It is advisable to consult with accountants or tax professionals during the process of changing depreciation methods. They can provide guidance on the potential benefits, legal requirements, and financial consequences associated with the change.

4. Communicate with Stakeholders

It is crucial to communicate the reasons for changing depreciation methods to relevant stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, and regulatory authorities. Transparency ensures everyone understands the rationale behind the change and reduces the risk of misunderstandings or legal liabilities.

5. Follow Applicable Regulations

Changing depreciation methods may require adherence to specific regulations or accounting standards. Businesses should ensure compliance with relevant laws, regulations, or financial reporting requirements imposed by regulatory bodies or accounting frameworks in their jurisdiction.


Depreciation methods play a vital role in allocating the cost of assets over their useful lives. Businesses may decide to change their depreciation methods for various reasons, such as changes in accounting standards, tax planning purposes, altered asset usage, improved estimations, or advancements in technology. It is important to carefully evaluate the need for change, analyze the impact on financial statements and tax liabilities, consult with professionals, communicate with stakeholders, and follow applicable regulations when changing depreciation methods. By making informed decisions, businesses can ensure accurate and efficient allocation of asset value throughout their useful lives.


Q: Is it necessary to change depreciation methods?

A: No, it is not always necessary to change depreciation methods. It depends on various factors such as changes in accounting standards, tax planning needs, changes in asset usage, improved estimations, or technological advancements.

Q: Can we change depreciation methods every year?

A: While it is possible to change depreciation methods every year, it is generally not recommended. Frequent changes can cause inconsistencies in financial statements and may lead to increased scrutiny from tax authorities or auditors.

Q: How does changing depreciation methods affect financial statements?

A: Changing depreciation methods can impact key financial metrics such as net income, book value, and tax expenses. It is important to evaluate the impact and communicate any changes effectively to stakeholders.

Q: Are there any legal requirements for changing depreciation methods?

A: The legal requirements for changing depreciation methods vary by jurisdiction. It is advisable to consult with professionals and ensure compliance with relevant laws, regulations, or accounting frameworks.

Q: Can changing depreciation methods be done retroactively?

A: In some cases, businesses may be allowed to change depreciation methods retroactively, but it is subject to specific regulations and approval from regulatory or tax authorities. It is important to consult with professionals and understand the implications before making retroactive changes.

Q: How long does it take to change depreciation methods?

A: The time required to change depreciation methods can vary depending on the complexity of the change, the size of the organization, and other factors. Adequate planning, analysis, and consultation with professionals are essential in ensuring a smooth transition.


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