Under Protection provides underground storage facilities for companies desiring off-site storage of sensitive documents, computer records, and other items. They have developed a sophisticated surveillance and security system which they initially used in their own facilities, and have recently started to market elsewhere as well. The underground storage facilities are made from natural caves in some instances (reinforced and modified as appropriate) and from excavations of natural rock formations in others. The land was purchased over ten years ago for a total of $2.5 million. The modifications have cost approximately $15 million more. The company has never depreciated its storage facilities because the market value of the property has continued to rise. Presently, the market price is between $30 and $40 million. Betsy Brantley, a new accounting manager, questioned this depreciation policy. Will Gray, the controller, has told her that she needn’t worry about it. For one thing, he says, this is really a special form of Land account, which should not be depreciated at all. For another, this is a privately held company, and so they don’t need to worry about misleading investors. All the owners know about and approve the depreciation policy.
What are the ethical issues in this situation?