Analysis of financial and tax depreciation provisions. Requirements on depreciation provisions in a modern economy. An international comparison.

Project directors

  • Prof. Dr. Andreas Oestreicher
  • Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Otto H. Jacobs
  • Dr. Christoph Spengel

Participating research assistants

  • Dipl.-Kfm. Rico A. Herrmann
  • Dipl.-Kfm. Oliver Voß, MBA


2001 - 2002

Funded by

  • Bundesministerium der Finanzen


Tax depreciation of assets is based on the operating useful life. As a means for determining the operating “useful life” the Federal Ministry of Finance issued depreciation tables. In connection with the Tax Reduction Act, the Federal Ministry of Finance placed restrictions on declining-balance depreciation for movable assets and at the same time the tax depreciation tables were revisited. Following agreement with the supreme tax authorities of the Länder and the business associations, the table with extended useful lives for fixed assets was published. Not only for this reason, the question of whether or not the depreciation regime then applicable was up-to-date was heavily disputed and a modification of the then current legislation was called for.

Against the background, the aim of this research project was to formulate requirements for tax depreciation provisions appropriate to modern business life. To this end, the tax depreciation provisions were investigated taking into consideration the relevant accounting provisions and, in particular, the internationally accepted methods (according to US GAAP and the IFRS), from a legal and economic perspective. Considerations with respect to tax policy and public economy were also to be taken into account. The question therefore arose as to what requirements modern tax depreciation provisions have to meet with a view to 1) ensuring that Germany is an attractive business location, 2) avoiding any subsidies, and 3) achieving easy handling. Consequently, the relevant provisions applying in several EU Member States and in the USA, the foremost industrialised nation, were presented and compared in terms of their qualitative as well as their quantitative implications for the tax base and the effective tax burden of companies.


  • Voß, Oliver, Absetzung für Abnutzung (AfA) : international wettbewerbsfähige und einfach zu handhabende Ausgestaltung der einkommensteuerlichen Abschreibungsverrechnung, Universitäts-Verlag Göttingen, Göttingen 2006, 278 Seiten, ISBN 3-938616-36-9.
  • Oestreicher, Andreas/Spengel, Christoph, Steuerliche Abschreibung und Standortattraktivität (Tax depreciation and location attractiveness), Nomos, Baden-Baden 2003, Schriftenreihe des ZEW: Wirtschaftsanalysen Bd. 66, 161 pages, ISBN 3-8329-0085-3.
  • Oestreicher, Andreas/Spengel, Christoph, Zur Reform der steuerlichen Abschreibung für bewegliche Wirtschaftsgüter vor dem Hintergrund des Standortwettbewerbs - Wirtschaftliche Nutzungsdauer, technische Nutzungsdauer oder gesetzliche Fixierung des Abschreibungszeitraums (On the reform of tax depreciation for movable assets against the background of tax-competing business locations – economic useful life, technical useful life, or fixing of the depreciation period by law), in: Betriebs-Berater 2003, p. 926-936.
  • Oestreicher, Andreas/Spengel, Christoph, Verlängerung der steuerlichen Abschreibungsdauer, Vereinfachung des Abschreibungsverfahrens und Wettbewerbsfähigkeit des Standorts Deutschland (Extending the tax depreciation period, simplifying the depreciation procedure, and competiveness of Germany as business location), in: Steuern und Bilanzen 2003, p. 458-461.