When investing in companies, I had to understand what "capital expenditure" is. Let's say each year, the company has to buy $200,000 worth of new computers for their employees. Is this capital expenditure or what is also called "capital spending"?

Another scenario is, if a company has to keep buying new warehouses (pay cash) and also trucks to move items around, are these costs also capital expenditure?

What about fixing the roofs of all the older warehouses, are those costs capital expenditure also?


You may wish to review: IRS Pub 535 Business Expenses

Capital Expenses

You must capitalize, rather than deduct, some costs. These costs are a part of your investment in your business and are called "capital expenses." Capital expenses are considered assets in your business. In general, you capitalize three types of costs.

  • Business start-up costs (see Tip below).
  • Business assets.
  • Improvements.

The first two purchases are assets as they fall under:

Business Assets

There are many different kinds of business assets, for example, land, buildings, machinery, furniture, trucks, patents, and franchise rights. You must fully capitalize the cost of these assets, including freight and installation charges.

While a wear and tear repair would be a deduction. Improvements to the building would count as asset though:


Generally, you must capitalize the costs of making improvements to a business asset if the improvements result in a betterment to the unit of property, restore the unit of property, or adapt the unit of property to a new or different use.

Some examples of improvements include rewiring or replumbing of a building, replacing an entire roof, increasing the production output of your equipment, putting an addition on your building, strengthening the foundation of a building so you can use it for a new purpose, or replacing a major component or substantial structural part of a machine.

However, you may currently deduct the costs of repairs or maintenance that do not improve a unit of property. This generally includes the costs of routine repairs and maintenance to your property that result from your use of the property and that keep your properly in an ordinary efficient operating condition. For example, deductible repairs include costs such as painting exteriors or interiors of business buildings, repairing broken window panes, replacing worn-out minor parts, sealing cracks and leaks, and changing oil or other fluids to maintain business equipment.

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There is a difference between maintaining an asset like a roof and “adding something you dont have”. Retain things have specific useful life, but to get that you have to do preventative maintenance. Best example of somebody is buying a warehouse, they expect the roof does not leak. You would have to disclose a leaky roof. They would either say, okay take some money off the sale price and I will fix it, or tell you to fix it. When deciding focus on the work “improvement”. Yes it is better to not have a leaky roof. But unless the roof was leaking when it was installed. You are simply doing what is actually listed in the warranty. It is not adding value to anything. It is helping you keep the value.

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