top of page

Decreasing Your Tax Burden with Cost Segregation Studies: A Guide for Real Estate Investors

Pen on top of a tax form

Real estate investment comes with many opportunities to maximize earnings and minimize expenses. One strategic tool that stands out for its tax-saving potential is the cost segregation study. This approach can significantly decrease the tax burden for property owners, improving cash flow and accelerating return on investment.

What is a Cost Segregation Study?

Cost segregation is an IRS-approved tax practice that involves categorizing building costs and improvements that would typically be depreciated over 27.5 or 39 years into categories that can be depreciated much quicker—over 5, 7, or 15 years. This detailed analysis segregates personal property assets from real property assets, allowing for accelerated depreciation deductions.

Key Benefits of Conducting a Cost Segregation Study

  1. Immediate Increase in Cash Flow: By accelerating depreciation, real estate investors can reduce their current tax liability, freeing up cash that can be reinvested into the business or used to reduce debt.

  2. Long-term Tax Deferral: By deferring taxes through accelerated depreciation, investors can utilize the time value of money, potentially investing the deferred taxes into income-generating projects.

  3. Retrospective Tax Savings: Property owners can apply cost segregation studies retroactively through "look-back" studies, allowing them to claim missed deductions without amending prior year tax returns. This is done by filing Form 3115 (Application for Change in Accounting Method) with the IRS.

When to Consider a Cost Segregation Study

Engaging in a cost segregation study is most beneficial under certain conditions:

  • Newly Purchased or Constructed Properties: Ideal for properties where large sums are invested, maximizing the potential deductions.

  • Large Scale Renovations: Significant improvements or renovations can also qualify for cost segregation, potentially creating substantial tax savings.

  • High Tax Burden Situations: When income is expected to be unusually high, employing a cost segregation study can help mitigate the increased tax liability.

Illustrative Example from Industry Leaders

As highlighted by tax experts in Forbes, a typical scenario might involve a newly constructed commercial property worth $10 million. A cost segregation study could reclassify 20% to 30% of the property to shorter-lived categories, leading to an upfront depreciation of $2 to $3 million over the first few years compared to standard methods, which translates directly into tax savings.


Cost segregation studies offer a compelling benefit for real estate investors looking to optimize their tax strategies and enhance their cash flows. This specialized financial analysis not only provides immediate financial relief but also contributes to the strategic growth and long-term sustainability of real estate investments.

Call to Action

To determine whether a cost segregation study is right for your property investment, consult with a tax professional who specializes in real estate. Tailored advice can help you leverage this powerful tool to its fullest potential, ensuring that your investments are as profitable as they can be.



bottom of page