# What Is the Unit of Production Method? Explanation and Real-World Examples

Summary:

The unit of production method is a unique approach to calculating depreciation, considering an asset’s practical usage in the production process rather than the traditional time-based depreciation methods. This method is particularly useful for assets experiencing wear and tear based on actual production output. By allowing companies to show higher depreciation expenses during more productive years, it can offset increased production costs. Learn how to calculate depreciation using this method and understand its key advantages in this comprehensive guide.

## What is the unit of production method?

The unit of production method is a specialized approach to calculating asset depreciation. Instead of relying on the passage of time, this method focuses on the actual production or usage of the asset. It becomes particularly valuable when an asset’s value is more closely tied to the number of units it produces rather than the number of years it remains in service. This method offers greater depreciation deductions during years of heavy asset utilization, which can offset periods of lower use. Let’s delve deeper into this unique depreciation approach.

### Understanding depreciation methods

Depreciation is the allocation of an asset’s cost over its useful life. Traditional methods like straight-line and accelerated depreciation consider time as the primary factor in calculating depreciation. However, the unit of production method takes a different approach. It accounts for an asset’s practical usage in the production process, making it a valuable tool for assets that endure wear and tear based on actual production or usage, such as machinery or production equipment.

Weigh the Risks and Benefits

Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

##### Pros
• Accurate reflection of an asset’s wear and tear based on actual usage
• Higher depreciation deductions during productive years
• Useful for assets closely tied to production output
##### Cons
• Complex calculation process
• May not suit assets with stable, time-based depreciation

## What does the unit of production method tell you?

The unit of production method calculates depreciation based on the percentage of an asset’s production capacity used in a given year. This approach allows companies to claim larger depreciation deductions during highly productive years. Companies utilize depreciation not only for bookkeeping but also for tax deductions. By accurately reflecting wear and tear related to production, this method can provide a more precise picture of a company’s profits and losses compared to time-based methods like straight-line depreciation or MACRS (Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System).

### Comparing unit of production and MACRS methods

The unit of production method differs from the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS), a standard approach for asset depreciation. While MACRS depends on set timeframes for depreciation, the unit of production method is based on an asset’s production or usage. The MACRS approach involves calculations resulting in the asset’s value depreciating with a declining balance over a predetermined period, followed by a switch to a straight-line depreciation method.

For tax purposes, the IRS typically mandates the use of MACRS for asset depreciation. However, the IRS does allow businesses to choose alternative methods, like the unit of production method, if it more accurately represents an asset’s depreciation. To opt for this method, business owners must make an election to exclude their assets from MACRS by the tax return due date for the initial service year.

For detailed information on making this election and understanding its specifics, refer to IRS Publication 946, titled “How to depreciate property.”

### When is the unit of production method most beneficial?

The unit of production method is most beneficial when an asset’s wear and tear is directly related to its production or usage, making time-based depreciation methods less accurate. It’s particularly useful for machinery and equipment used in manufacturing and production.

### What is the salvage value, and how does it affect the calculation?

The salvage value is the estimated value of the asset at the end of its useful life. It’s subtracted from the original cost to determine the depreciable base. The salvage value affects the depreciation expense calculation; a higher salvage value results in lower depreciation expenses.

### How can a business elect to use the unit of production method for depreciation?

Businesses can choose the unit of production method for asset depreciation by making an election to exclude the assets from MACRS. This election must be made by the tax return due date for the year in which the property is first placed into service.

## Key takeaways

• The unit of production method calculates depreciation based on an asset’s production or usage, making it ideal for assets with wear and tear related to production.
• It allows companies to claim higher depreciation deductions during productive years, offsetting increased production costs.
• For tax purposes, the IRS mandates the use of MACRS, but businesses can choose the unit of production method if it more accurately represents their asset’s depreciation.
###### View article sources
1. Pros and cons of using the unit of production depreciation method – Office of Scientific and Technical Information
2. SEC Correspondence – U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
3. Guidelines for Classifying Production Units – Massachusetts
4. Production Efficiency in Economics: Definition And Examples – SuperMoney
5. Demystifying Unit Costs: Types and Real-World Examples – SuperMoney