Understanding how vehicle depreciation works can help you reduce its effect on your fleet, calculate your annual expenses more accurately and save you money in the long run.
How does commercial vehicle depreciation work?
“Depreciation” is the word used to describe how something loses value over time – in this case, vehicles. Commercial vehicles tend to depreciate faster than personal vehicles because they’re used more heavily. Most new cars lose about 10% percent of their value as soon as they’re driven off the lot. They lose another 10-20% more by the end of the 1st year and about 25% every year after that. So you might be surprised to learn that after 3 years your car has lost around 3/4 of it’s value!
Commercial vehicle depreciation rate
The most accurate way to take into account vehicle depreciation rate for a commercial fleet is by using the accelerated method. This method factors in the large drop in a vehicle’s value during its first year before leveling off in subsequent years.
As an example depreciation calculation, let’s say you buy a commercial truck for your business for $100,000. Assume that its value will depreciate 30% after the first year and 20% each year after that. After 5 years, the vehicle you originally paid $100,000 for is worth only $28,672 — a loss of $71,328 or about 71% of its original value!
How to calculate vehicle depreciation for taxes in Canada?
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) allows business owners to deduct the cost of vehicle depreciation when filing their taxes. Keep in mind that you cannot deduct the cost of purchasing your business vehicle – instead you can only deduct the amount it has depreciated since you bought it.
The CRA often uses the terms depreciation and capital cost allowance (CCA) interchangeably for the purpose of determining tax claim eligibility.
CCA is the amount you can claim on the cost of your business vehicle’s depreciation. The CCA is based on the capital cost, which is the amount you paid for your vehicle.
How to calculate vehicle depreciation for taxes in 5 steps
Your commercial vehicle expenses claim should be based on your business year not the calendar year. To calculate your commercial vehicle’s depreciation, otherwise known as CCA, you’ll need to:
Calculate the capital cost of your vehicle, which will likely be the price you payed for it before taxes.
Determine what type of vehicle it is according to CRA definitions. Your vehicle will be categorized as a motor, passenger, zero-emission passenger vehicle (ZEPV) or zero-emission vehicle (ZEV).
Apply the yearly depreciation rate for that class to the vehicle’s capital cost. If your vehicle is classified as Class 10 or 10.1, that CCA depreciation rate is 30%.
The result is the capital cost allowance for that vehicle, which you can then deduct from your taxes.
Example: How to calculate the tax deductible depreciation on a new van
Let’s work through a CCA calculation example. Say you bought a Chevrolet Express Cargo van for your business for $40,000. According to the CRA’s definitions of types of vehicles, you’ve determined your van is a motor vehicle, which puts it under Class 10 – meaning you can deduct a rate of 30% CCA of your van’s capital cost. Since the capital cost in this case is equal to the purchase cost, the CCA can be calculated by multiplying $40,000 by 30%, giving you a deductible CCA amount of $12,000.
Keep in mind that this is just a simplified example of how to calculate your vehicle’s capital cost allowance. You usually won’t be able to deduct the full amount within the first year you purchase an asset. Because it can get more complicated depending on individual scenarios, we recommend you talk to either a tax accountant or a tax lawyer to know exactly what you’re eligible for and how to claim it.
How to report commercial vehicle deprecation on tax forms in Canada
Deductible vehicle expenses are calculated the same way for sole proprietorships, partnerships and corporations, however, each entity reports these expenses differently to the CRA.
Type of business
How to report vehicle depreciation
On line 9936 (“Capital cost allowance (CCA)”) of Tax Form T2125 Statement of Business or Professional Activities.
On line 9943 (“Other amounts deductible from your share of net partnership income (loss)”) in part 6 of form T2125
On of form T2 Corporate Income Tax Return (see Income Tax Folio S3-F4-C1 General Discussion of Capital Cost Allowance)
If your making a claim in a partnership, understand that the sum of vehicle expenses – depreciation as well as other eligible costs – collectively claimed by all partners in a partnership must equal what a single individual would claim for the same vehicle(s). In other words, the total amount that the CRA allows you to claim for a single vehicle’s expenses is the same regardless of whether 1 person or 50 different people use that vehicle.
Sole proprietors and business partners can use Chart A (“Motor vehicle expenses”) of form T2125 to calculate the amount of vehicle expenses that can be claimed on their tax returns.
How do I claim a vehicle used for both personal and business reasons?
If you use your vehicle for both personal and business use, you can only claim expenses related to your use of the vehicle for business purposes.
Say, for example, you drive your car 40 km during a work day, but 15 km of that is spent running personal errands and the remaining 25 km is spent attending business meetings and picking up office supplies. In this case, you can only claim vehicle expenses associated with 25km of driving. It’s very important, therefore, to keep track of how you use your vehicle so that you can easily separate which costs are deductible and which are not.
Which vehicles hold their value best?
Every vehicle depreciates at a different rate. But, according to the Canadian Black Book, the vehicles in the table below are known to retain their value better than most.
The best compact commercial van to retain its value is the Chevrolet City Express.
Canadian Black Book 2020 Best Retained Value Awards*
Sub-Compact Luxury Crossover
Zero Emission Vehicle
Toyota Prius V
Premium Luxury Car
Premium Sports Car
Compact Luxury Crossover-SUV
Mid-size Luxury Crossover-SUV
Full-size Luxury Crossover-SUV
Compact Commercial Van
Chevrolet City Express
RAM ProMaster 3500
Ford F250 Super Duty
*To obtain these results, CanadianBlackBook.com measured 2016-model-year vehicles in 23 categories. The value of vehicles were tracked over a four-year period, with analysts scouring hundreds of thousands of sales transactions and other data points from live auctions, online auctions, dealership and other proprietary sources. Prizes were awarded to those vehicles that held the highest percentage value of their original MSRP.
How do I limit commercial vehicle depreciation?
While you can’t prevent depreciation, you can reduce the cost of depreciation on your fleet of vehicles.
Lease. Because you don’t own the vehicle, you won’t have to worry about depreciation reducing its value. The CRA also allows you to deduct lease payments for commercial vehicles from your income, so that’s huge plus. (Note: there are some limitations to lease payment deductions depending on the class of the vehicle. See our FAQ below for more info.) Additionally, if the resale value at the end of the lease is higher than the end-of-term purchase price in your contract, you can purchase the vehicle and potentially resell it for a profit.
Maintenance. Preventative and routine maintenance can help your vehicles retain more value, especially if you have the service records to prove it.
Replacement cycle. Aim to replace your vehicles with newer models when the market value of those vehicles is greater than the cost of operating them.
Buy used. Because vehicles depreciate most in the first year, consider buying a used vehicle to cut depreciation costs. Vehicles that are 1 or 2 years old still have much of their functional value but have already suffered the steepest bulk of depreciation, leaving you with an almost-new car that you can buy at a much-lower-than-new price.
Avoid customization. Try to avoid customization or modifications that can increase the cost but not the resale value. This could include aftermarket parts, engine modifications and so on.
Employee purchase program. Consider letting employees buy vehicles approaching the end of their useful life. They can buy used fleet vehicles at a lower rate than they might find at a retailer, and you’ll earn more than you would if you sold the vehicles to a wholesaler.
Timing. Monitor market data to find out when prices and demand are high for vehicles you’re looking to upgrade.
Limit suppliers. The more vehicles you purchase from a supplier, the more bargaining power you tend to have.
Ready to buy a commercial vehicle?
Whether you’re purchasing your first business vehicle or adding to your fleet, finding the right commercial vehicle car loan can help you get the right vehicle for your needs and save money. Compare commercial car loan options in the table below based on features like credit score, loan term and basic requirements.
Vehicle depreciation is an unavoidable expense that can soak up a large chunk of your operating costs. While you aren’t able to avoid depreciation, you can take advantage of tax benefits and other tactics to limit the cost and impact on your fleet.
Frequently asked questions about commercial vehicle depreciation
Consider implementing a fleet management system to optimize your fleet and reduce operating expenses like depreciation.
You can begin to calculate capital cost allowance (CCA) for vehicles whenever you first begin using the vehicle for income or alternatively, at “the time the property [vehicle] is delivered or made available to you and is capable of producing a saleable product or service.” See this page on the Government of Canada’s website to find out how to calculate the deduction for capital cost allowance (CCA).
No. While depreciation is generally the largest cost of owning a vehicle, it’s not something you will physically need to pay.
Instead, your vehicle drops in value each year, which adds to the cost of replacing the vehicle sometime in the future when its value is zero and it’s no longer usable. You may need to set aside money equal to depreciation in order to pay for a new vehicle when the time comes, but this is just preparing for the future. Depreciation itself is not an expense you have to pay to anyone.
Yes. Vehicle lease payments are tax deductible for businesses. However, there may be limits to the amount you can claim depending on the class that your vehicle falls into as defined by CRA regulations.
If you own a vehicle, on the other hand, you can deduct capital cost allowance (depreciation) as well as interest payments if the car was financed.
Click here to learn more about how leased vehicles affect your business taxes.
Besides capital cost allowance (depreciation) and leasing costs, CRA rules allow you to deduct the following expenses from your business taxes:
fuel (gas, propane, oil)
maintenance and repairs
license and registration fees
eligible interest on loans to finance the vehicle(s)
Stacie Hurst is an editor at Finder, specializing in a wide range of topics including stock trading, money transfers, loans, banking products, online shopping and streaming. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Writing, and she completed one year of law school in the United States before deciding to pursue a career in the publishing industry. When not working, Stacie can usually be found watching K-dramas or playing games with her friends and family.
Learn how to calculate how much car you can afford based on your salary and budget.
How likely would you be to recommend finder to a friend or colleague?
Very UnlikelyExtremely Likely
Thank you for your feedback.
Our goal is to create the best possible product, and your thoughts, ideas and suggestions play a major role in helping us identify opportunities to improve.
finder.com is an independent comparison platform and information service that aims to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions. While we are independent, the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which finder.com receives compensation. We may receive compensation from our partners for placement of their products or services. We may also receive compensation if you click on certain links posted on our site. While compensation arrangements may affect the order, position or placement of product information, it doesn't influence our assessment of those products. Please don't interpret the order in which products appear on our Site as any endorsement or recommendation from us. finder.com compares a wide range of products, providers and services but we don't provide information on all available products, providers or services. Please appreciate that there may be other options available to you than the products, providers or services covered by our service.