What is Lease Accounting?

Leasing is a common practice where one party, known as the lessor, grants the use of an asset to another party, known as the lessee, in exchange for periodic payments over a specific period of time. The asset could be real estate, vehicles, equipment, or other types of property.

accounting for leases

Lease accounting refers to the set of rules and guidelines used to record and report lease transactions in financial statements. It includes identifying, measuring, and showing leases according to accounting rules like IFRS or GAAP.

Lease accounting is a complex area of accounting that requires an understanding of GAAP. Under GAAP, leases are classified as either finance leases or operating leases.

 

Lessee vs. Lessor

A lease agreement is a contractual arrangement between two parties regarding the use of a property or asset. The two parties can be defined as follows:

Lessor: This is the party that owns the property or asset and grants the right to use or occupy it to another party, known as the lessee, in exchange for certain payments. In simpler terms, the lessor is the landlord or owner of the property who allows someone else to use it for a specified period and under specific terms outlined in the lease agreement. The lessor retains ownership of the property but gives up possession temporarily.

Lessee: This party receives the right to use or occupy the property or asset owned by the lessor. They are the tenants or users of the property. The lessee agrees to make regular payments (rent) to the lessor for the privilege of using the property according to the terms outlined in the lease agreement. The lessee doesn't own the property but has the right to use it during the lease term.

 

Types of Leases

In accounting and finance, leasing is a common way for businesses to acquire assets without having to buy them outright. There are two types of leases: finance leases and operating leases. The primary difference between the two is how they are accounted for on a company's financial statements.

Finance Leases

Finance leases are long-term leases of expensive assets, where the lessee takes on most ownership risks and rewards. Lessees record the asset on their balance sheet and are responsible for maintenance, insurance, and other costs.

Finance leases are typically used for assets like buildings, machinery, or vehicles.

Operating Leases

Operating leases, on the other hand, are short-term leases of assets with high turnover rates, where lessors retain most ownership risks and rewards. With operating leases, lessees don't record the asset on their balance sheet, but rather record lease payments as rental expenses on their income statement. Lessors are responsible for maintenance, insurance, and other costs. Operating leases are typically used for assets like office equipment or vehicles.

The choice between finance and operating leases depends on a company's accounting and tax requirements, as well as its cash flow and operational needs.

 

What is an Example of Lease Accounting?

Here is a simplified example to illustrate lease accounting:

Let's say a company, ABC Corporation, enters into a lease agreement to rent office space for five years. The annual lease payments are $10,000, payable at the end of each year (what a deal!) and the lease agreement does not transfer ownership of the property to ABC Corporation when the lease has ended.

Under the lease accounting standards (e.g., IFRS 16 or ASC 842), ABC Corporation needs to determine whether the lease is a finance lease or an operating lease.

If the lease meets any of the following criteria, it is classified as a finance lease:

  1. The lease transfers ownership of the property to the lessee by the end of the lease term.
  2. The lease grants the lessee an option to purchase the property, and it is reasonably certain that the option will be exercised.
  3. The lease term covers a major part of the economic life of the property (e.g., 75% or more).
  4. The present value of the lease payments, excluding any costs such as initial direct costs, equals or exceeds substantially all of the fair value of the property.

In this example, assuming none of the above criteria are met, the lease would be classified as an operating lease.

Operating Lease Accounting:

Under the operating lease accounting approach, ABC Corporation would record the annual lease payments as an operating expense on its income statement. The following entry would be made each year:

  • Debit: Operating Lease Expense $10,000
  • Credit: Cash $10,000

Finance Lease Accounting:

Now, let's consider an alternate scenario where the lease agreement does meet the criteria for a finance lease. In this case, ABC Corporation would recognize the leased office space as an asset and record a corresponding liability for the lease obligation.

Assuming the present value of the lease payments at an appropriate discount rate is $40,000, the initial lease accounting entry would be:

  • Debit: Right-of-Use Asset (Office Space) $40,000
  • Credit: Lease Liability $40,000

Over the course of the lease term, ABC Corporation would recognize annual depreciation expense on the right-of-use asset and interest expense on the lease liability. Assuming a straight-line depreciation method and a discount rate of 5%, the annual entries for the first year would be:

  • Debit: Depreciation Expense (Office Space) $8,000
  • Debit: Interest Expense $2,000
  • Credit: Right-of-Use Asset (Office Space) $10,000

The same entries would be made for subsequent years, adjusting for any changes in the lease liability due to interest accruals and lease payments.

*Please note that this example is simplified for illustrative purposes. In practice, lease accounting involves more detailed calculations, considerations for lease modifications, variable lease payments, and other factors. It's important to consult the relevant accounting standards and seek professional advice for comprehensive and accurate lease accounting.*

 

Why is Lease Accounting Important?

accounting for leases

  1. Transparency and Accuracy: Proper lease accounting enhances the transparency and accuracy of financial statements. By recording lease obligations on the balance sheet, it provides a more complete and accurate representation of a company's assets, liabilities, and financial position. This information is vital for investors, creditors, and other stakeholders in making informed decisions.

  2. Financial Statement Analysis: Lease accounting allows for more accurate financial statement analysis. Investors and analysts can better evaluate a company's financial health, liquidity, leverage, and profitability when lease obligations are properly recorded and disclosed.

  3. Comparability: Lease accounting standards provide a consistent framework for companies to record and report leases. This improves the comparability of financial statements across different companies and industries, allowing stakeholders to make meaningful comparisons and assessments.

  4. Risk Assessment: Lease accounting enables a more comprehensive assessment of a company's risk exposure. By recognizing lease liabilities on the balance sheet, stakeholders can evaluate the financial impact of lease obligations, such as debt covenants, repayment obligations, and future cash flow requirements.

  5. Contract Management: Accurate lease accounting facilitates effective contract management. It helps companies monitor lease terms, payment schedules, renewal options, and other critical aspects of lease agreements. This allows businesses to better plan for lease expirations, negotiate favorable terms, and optimize lease portfolios.

  6. Regulatory Compliance: Lease accounting standards, such as IFRS 16 and ASC 842, are recognized by regulatory bodies and accounting standard-setters. Compliance with these standards ensures that companies meet the requirements set forth by the respective governing bodies, avoiding potential penalties, legal issues, or reputational risks.

  7. Decision Making: Lease accounting information assists in making strategic decisions. Companies can evaluate the costs and benefits of leasing versus buying assets, assess the financial implications of lease modifications, and consider the impact of leases on profitability and cash flow.

Overall, lease accounting is essential for accurate financial reporting, informed decision-making, risk management, and maintaining compliance with accounting standards. It provides stakeholders with a clearer understanding of a company's lease-related commitments, financial position, and performance, leading to increased transparency and confidence in the financial statements.

 

What is the GAAP standard for leases?

IFRS 16 is the International Lease Accounting Standard

The international standard for lease accounting is IFRS 16, issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). This standard applies to all companies that report under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which are used in many countries around the world.

IFRS 16 follows the “right-of-use" model, which requires that if a company has the right to use an asset they are renting, it is classified as a lease for accounting purposes – and thereby must be recognized on the company’s balance sheet.

ASC 842 is the US Lease Accounting Standard

In the United States, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued a new standard for lease accounting called ASC 842, which became effective for public companies in 2019 and for private companies in 2022. ASC 842 is similar in many ways to IFRS 16, but there are some differences in the details of the standards.

ASC 842 requires the disclosure of a company's leased assets, the classification of leases as either finance or operating, and reporting the monetary values of the leases.

Other countries may have their own local accounting standards for lease accounting, which may differ from IFRS or ASC 842. However, many countries are moving towards adopting international standards like IFRS 16 to promote consistency and comparability in financial reporting.

 

What is the Difference Between Old and New Lease Accounting Standards?

The key difference between the old and new lease accounting standards primarily lies in how companies are required to account for and report their lease arrangements on their financial statements. The old standard, known as ASC 840 (or IAS 17 for international companies), treated most leases as operating leases, with lease-related assets and liabilities typically left off the balance sheet. This approach often resulted in companies having significant off-balance sheet obligations, which made it challenging for investors and stakeholders to assess a company's true financial position.

The new lease accounting standard, ASC 842 (or IFRS 16 for international companies), introduced a significant change by requiring companies to recognize most leases on the balance sheet. This means that companies must report lease-related assets and liabilities for both operating and finance leases, resulting in a more transparent representation of their financial obligations. This change aims to improve financial statement comparability and provide a clearer picture of a company's lease-related financial commitments, making it easier for investors and stakeholders to evaluate its financial health.

 

How Lease Accounting Affects Your Business

Lease accounting can impact a company’s financial statements. With the implementation of the new lease accounting standard, ASC 842, operating leases must now be recorded on the balance sheet. This means that businesses with operating leases will see an increase in their total assets and liabilities, which can affect their debt-to-equity ratio, as well as other financial ratios.

To comply with ASC 842, businesses must carefully review their lease agreements and assess the impact of the new standard on their financial statements.

 

What are the Benefits of the New Lease Standard?

accounting for leases

The latest lease standard will provide several benefits to companies, investors, and stakeholders. By recognizing lease obligations on the balance sheet, the new standard will provide investors with a more accurate and complete picture of a company's financial health.

The new standard will also provide companies with greater visibility into their lease obligations, which may help them make more informed business decisions. It will also promote consistency and transparency in financial reporting across different industries and countries.

 

How Can Companies Prepare for Accounting Lease Standards?

To prepare for the new lease standards, companies should begin by:

  • Assessing their current lease portfolio
  • Identifying leases that will be affected by the new standard

Companies should also consider implementing new lease accounting software and making changes to their accounting policies and internal controls.

It is also important for companies to communicate the impact that the new standards will have on their stakeholders, including investors, lenders, and customers. By proactively addressing the new standard, companies can minimize disruptions to their business operations and financial reporting processes.

 

What to Consider When Evaluating Lease Software?

When evaluating lease accounting software, there are several important considerations to keep in mind. Here are some key factors to consider when looking for a software solution to manage lease accounting:

  • Compliance with lease accounting standards: The software should be compliant with relevant lease accounting standards, such as IFRS 16 or ASC 842, and provide the necessary features to ensure compliance.
  • User-friendly interface: The software should have an intuitive and user-friendly interface that makes it easy to navigate and use.
  • Integration with existing systems: The software should be able to integrate with your existing accounting and ERP systems, such as QuickBooks, Xero, or SAP, to streamline lease accounting processes.
  • Reporting and analytics: The software should provide robust reporting and analytics capabilities to help you analyze lease data and make informed decisions.
  • Automation and efficiency: The software should automate lease accounting processes to reduce errors, save time, and increase efficiency.
  • Security: The software should have robust security features to protect sensitive lease data from unauthorized access.
  • Cost: Consider whether the software offers a good return on investment in terms of time and cost savings.
  • Customer support: Look for a vendor that provides good customer support and training resources to help you get the most out of the software.

 

How Can Accrurent's Lucernex Lease Accounting Software Help?

accounting for leases

Accruent's Lucernex lease accounting software offers valuable assistance for lease administration and accounting processes. Lucernex is a comprehensive solution that helps businesses effectively manage lease contracts and ensures compliance with lease accounting standards such as IFRS 16 and ASC 842. The software streamlines lease data management, automates calculations, and generates accurate financial reports, enabling organizations to maintain transparency and accuracy in their lease accounting practices.

Lucernex simplifies lease classification, tracks lease terms and conditions, calculates lease payments, and facilitates the appropriate recognition of lease assets and liabilities on the balance sheet. By leveraging Lucernex, businesses can achieve improved efficiency, reduced errors, enhanced financial reporting, and better decision-making regarding lease-related matters.

FAQ: Lease Accounting

What is the journal entry for a lease?

Journal entries are documents that record the transactions between the lessees and lessors. Generally, both parties should record journal entries. The contents of a journal entry will vary depending on if the entry is completed by the lessor or the lessee and depending on if it a capital or operating lease.

Lessee entries for capital leases should include:

  • The total amount of the lease payable, taking into account debit and lease payable account credit.
  • Transfer of depreciation to depreciation accumulated account
  • Payment of lease obligation and interest.
  • Lessee entries for operating leases should include:
  • Rent of lease account debit
  • Cash account credit

How do you treat a lease in accounting?

Leases are subject to different accounting treatments depending on if they’re capital leases or operating leases. Accounting for an operating lease is more straightforward, as operating statements are simply expensed on the income statement. In this case, depreciation is not assessed. A capital lease, on the other hand, involves a transferring of ownership. The lease, then, is considered a loan – and interest payments are expensed. Depreciation must also be considered and charged on the income statement.

What is the new lease accounting standard?

There are three new accounting standards: IFRS 16, ASC 842 and GASB 87:

  • IFRS 16: IFRS 16 is a leasing standard that was issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) in January 2016. It went into effect on January 1, 2019.
  • ASC 842: ASC 842 is the latest FASB lease accounting standard that public companies were required to adopt in 2019 and that private companies must adopt in 2020. ASC replaces the US GAAP lease standard ASC 840.
  • GASB 87: GASB Statement No. 87, or GASB 87, is the latest lease accounting standard issues by the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) for governmental organizations. Though the current expected due date for GASB 87 adoption is June 15, 2021, GASB favors early adoption, so it’s important that your organization develops the policies, efforts and controls to facilitate adoption as soon as possible.

Learn more about lease accounting software here.

UK Leasing Accounting.

Should leases be capitalized or expensed?

This decision is primarily influenced by whether a lease is classified as an operating lease or a finance or capital lease, and the applicable accounting framework. Accounting standards for leases have recently undergone significant changes. The new standard for leases, Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 842, became effective for reporting periods beginning on or after December 15, 2018. These new standards require most leases, including operating leases, to be capitalized on the balance sheet.

Under ASC 842, the distinction between operating and finance leases is largely eliminated for lessees. Lessees are required to recognize both operating and finance leases on the balance sheet with the leased asset and corresponding lease liability being recorded. This change aims to provide a more transparent representation of a company's lease obligations and assets.

How do you record leases in accounting?

To record a lease for accounting purposes, you first need to determine if the lease is an operating lease or finance lease. For operating leases, the lessee typically records lease payments as rent expenses on the income statement and does not recognize the leased asset on the balance sheet. For finance leases, the lessee records the leased asset as an asset on the balance sheet and recognizes the value of future lease payments as a liability. Over time, the lessee amortizes the leased asset and records interest expenses on the income statement.