Mass Asset Law and Legal Definition

Mass asset refers to an intangible asset such as a workforce. It may be grouped and considered as a single entity, even though the individual components of the asset may have expired or terminated over time. A mass asset is non-wasting, and therefore not depreciable, because it is continually regenerated, such that at any given time, the asset is the same in all material respects as it always has been. This is so even when the asset's constitutive elements change over time.

In Ithaca Indus. v. Commissioner, 17 F.3d 684 (4th Cir. 1994), the court observed that certain mass assets tend to have a value which does not decrease by the passage of time alone. The value of the mass asset may fluctuate from time to time as contracts, lists or subscriptions gradually expire and are replaced by new ones. However, this is generally regarded not as a process of exhaustion, but rather as a process by which a continually existing asset is kept intact. Thus, the mass asset is frequently held to have an indeterminate useful life and, consequently, to be not depreciable.

The distinguishing feature of a true mass asset is its ability to be regenerated without substantial effort on the part of its owner, that is, its ability to self-regenerate. A mass asset is maintained only by significant affirmative efforts to add new elements. These additions are most naturally understood as comprising something new and distinct from the original asset.