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Equipment purchases made prior to the business being created are not considered startup expenses under federal tax guidelines, BUT the expense can be written off through depreciation.
Here's a good article from the Small Business Administration that outlines this and other factors regarding start-up costs: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/startup-cost-tax-deductions-%E2%80%93-how-write-expense
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