§67. Deductions from gross income; charges in case of oil and gas wells
A.(1) Option with respect to intangible drilling and development costs incurred by an operator (one who holds a working or operating interest in any tract or parcel of land either as a fee owner or under a lease or any other form of contract granting working or operating rights) in the development of oil and gas properties: All expenditures made by an operator for wages, fuel, repairs, hauling, supplies, etc., incident to and necessary for the drilling of wells and the preparation of wells for the production of oil or gas, may, at the option of the operator, be deducted from gross income as an expense or charged to capital account. Such expenditures have for convenience been termed intangible drilling and development costs. They include the cost to operators of any drilling or development work (excluding amounts payable only out of production or the gross proceeds from production, and amounts properly allocable to cost of depreciable property) done for them by contractors under any form of contract, including turnkey contracts. Examples of items to which this option applies are, all amounts paid for labor, fuel, repairs, hauling, and supplies, or any of them, which are used (i) in the drilling, shooting, and cleaning of wells; (ii) in such clearing of ground, draining, road making, surveying, and geological works as are necessary in preparation for the drilling of wells; and (iii) in the construction of such derricks, tanks, pipelines, and other physical structures as are necessary for the drilling of wells and the preparation of wells for the production of oil or gas. In general, this option applies only to expenditures for those drilling and developing items which in themselves do not have a salvage value. For the purpose of this option, labor, fuel, repairs, hauling, supplies, etc., are not considered as having a salvage value, even though used in connection with the installation of physical property which has a salvage value. Included in this option are all costs of drilling and development undertaken (directly or through a contract) by an operator of an oil and gas property whether incurred by him prior or subsequent to the formal grant or assignment to him of operating rights (a leasehold interest, or other form of operating rights, or working interest); except that in any case where any drilling or development project is undertaken for the grant or assignment of a fraction of the operating rights, only that part of the costs thereof which is attributable to such fractional interest is within this option. In the excepted cases, costs of the project undertaken, including depreciable equipment furnished, to the extent allocable to fractions of the operating rights held by others, must be capitalized as the depletable capital cost of the fractional interest thus acquired.
(2) If deductions for depreciation or depletion have either on the books of the taxpayer or in his returns of net income been included in the past in expense or other accounts, rather than specifically as depreciation or depletion, or if capital expenditures have been charged to expense in lieu of depreciation or depletion, a statement indicating the extent to which this practice has been carried should accompany the return.
B.(1) Items returnable through depletion: If the taxpayer charges such expenditures as fall within the option to capital account, the amounts so capitalized and not deducted as a loss are returnable through depletion insofar as they are not represented by physical property. For the purposes of this section the expenditures for clearing ground, draining, road making, surveying, geological work, excavation, grading, and the drilling, shooting, and cleaning of wells, are considered not to be represented by physical property, and when charged to capital account are returnable through depletion.
(2) Items returnable through depreciation: If the taxpayer charges such expenditures as fall within the option to capital account, the amounts so capitalized and not deducted as a loss are returnable through depreciation insofar as they are represented by physical property. Such expenditures are amounts paid for wages, fuel, repairs, hauling, supplies, etc., used in the installation of casing and equipment and in the construction on the property of derricks and other physical structures.
(3) In the case of capitalized intangible drilling and development costs incurred under a contract, such costs shall be allocated between the foregoing classes of items for the purpose of determining the depletion and depreciation allowances.
(4) Option with respect to cost of nonproductive wells: If the operator has elected to capitalize intangible drilling and development costs, then an additional option is accorded with respect to intangible drilling and development costs incurred in drilling a nonproductive well. Such costs incurred in drilling a nonproductive well may be deducted by the taxpayer as an ordinary loss provided a proper election is made. Any such election made for taxable years beginning after December 31, 1943, or any such election hereafter made under this section shall be binding for all subsequent years. Any taxpayer who incurs optional drilling and development costs in drilling a nonproductive well must make a clear statement of election under this option in the return for the first taxable year beginning after December 31, 1953, in which such nonproductive well is completed. The absence of a clear indication in such return of an election to deduct as ordinary losses intangible drilling and development costs of nonproductive wells shall be deemed to be an election to recover such costs through depletion to the extent that they are not represented by physical property, and through depreciation to the extent that they are represented by physical property.
C.(1) Capital items: The option with respect to intangible drilling and development costs does not apply to expenditures by which the taxpayer acquires tangible property ordinarily considered as having a salvage value. Examples of such items are the costs of the actual materials in those structures which are constructed in the wells and on the property, and the cost of drilling tools, pipe, casing, tubing, tanks, engines, boilers, machines, etc. The option does not apply to any expenditure for wages, fuel, repairs, hauling, supplies, etc., in connection with equipment facilities, or structures, not incident to or necessary for the drilling of wells, such as structures for storing or treating oil or gas. These are capital items and are returnable through depreciation.
(2) Expense items: Expenditures which must be charged off as expense, regardless of the option provided by this section, are those for labor, fuel, repairs, hauling, supplies, etc., in connection with the operation of the wells and of other facilities on the property for the production of oil or gas.
D. This section does not grant a new option or election. Any taxpayer who made an election under R.S. 47:67 or under Section 9-n-1 of Act 21 of 1934, as amended, is, by such election, bound with respect to all optional expenditures in connection with oil and gas properties. Any taxpayer who has never made expenditures for the development of oil and gas properties prior to his first taxable year beginning after December 31, 1953, must make an election with respect to intangible drilling and development costs in general in the return for the first taxable year in which the taxpayer makes such expenditures.
Amended by Acts 1954, No. 162, §1.