Three main types of leases exist that businesses will need to account for when they are a lessor or lessee. We will discuss these below, as well as ASC 842 compliance and the accounting standards that matter.
Finance leasing is generally a lease of three years or longer. Anything over twelve months will count as a long-term lease in leasing terms.
The person leasing the piece of equipment will, after the lease has ended, only pay a nominal rent or be allowed to sell or scrap the equipment. The idea is that the leasing company will recover the full cost of the equipment that they are leasing throughout the lease as well as any charges.
Those leasing should be aware that although they do not own equipment, they are still responsible for purchasing insurance and for maintaining it.
In accounting terms, the asset must show as a capital item, or item bought by the company, on its balance sheet.
When considering an operating lease, companies should consider the following:
- Operating leases are useful where equipment is not needed for its entire life.
- The leasing company will, in this instance, be responsible for the insurance and maintenance of the piece of equipment.
- The piece of equipment will be taken back when the lease has expired and not be left with the company to sort out its disposal.
- The asset does not have to show on the balance sheet.
Contract hire is for company cars. A leasing company will be responsible for the maintenance and management of them, including repairs and servicing.
Vehicle leasing will be for a fixed period and an agreed sum of money. A business can always know where it is when there are regular monthly payments involved.
The leasing company, because they own the vehicle, will be responsible for any risks that are associated with the asset. Upon completion of the lease, the vehicle will be returned to the company that is leasing it out.
Again, you do not have to show this type of asset on a balance sheet.
Accounting Standard Compliance
Accounting for the above leases will be about whether it is considered a capital item. As you can read above, this is only the case with finance leasing, and not with operating leases or contract hire. A finance department will need to know this. Be aware that these are only the main leases, so it is worth checking out the others and how they are treated in accountancy terms.
The accounting standards that we must know about when dealing with leases are:
- ASC 842, as mentioned above.
- IFRS 16 (specifies how leases are identified, measured, presented, and disclosed).
- GASB 87 (about capital leases).
The purpose of the above standards is to ensure that leases are clearly defined within a set of final accounts and that companies are comparable to investors.
The software available will help us to make sense of the way different leases are treated. We must get this right to satisfy governmental departments and to declare taxes properly. Also, not to mislead those we borrow from or are investing in our business.
There are many types of leases, but in accountancy terms, it is whether you have to account for the asset as a capital item on the balance sheet that will matter. The accountancy standards have been revised to make it clearer to those looking at balance sheets.
They mustn’t form a misleading picture when it comes to viewing accounts and making investment decisions. This would be unfair and not allow investors to compare accurately different companies they might be deciding to invest in. Investment is a risk and needs to be calculated based on knowing all the facts.
Accounting with software will ensure compliance with the accounting standards that affect leases. It takes the hassle out of dealing with them. Software updates will take note of the latest accounting standards to ensure that businesses always remain on track and up-to-date.