BlogLease ManagementSales Type Lease Demystified: A Complete Guide for Business Accounting

Sales Type Lease Demystified: A Complete Guide for Business Accounting

What is a sales type lease?

Among the various lease types, the sales type lease stands out as a significant transaction that merges elements of both a sale and a lease agreement. Understanding the intricacies of sales type leases is crucial for business owners, financial professionals, and students alike, as it involves complex accounting principles, including the recognition of a right-of-use asset, and has far-reaching implications on financial statements. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the nuances of sales type leases, contrasting them with other lease types. Whether you’re new to lease accounting or seeking to enhance your understanding, this guide will demystify the concept of a right-of-use asset within sales type leases and empower you to make informed financial decisions for your organization.

What is a Sales Type Lease? 

A sales-type lease is a type of lease agreement in which the lessor (the company or individual providing the lease) essentially sells the leased asset to the lessee (the company or individual using the asset) over the term of the lease. It’s called a “sales type” lease because it’s structured in a way that resembles a sale.

Why Opt for This Lease Type? 

In this arrangement, the lessor recognizes both a sale and a lease in its financial statements. This means that the lessor records revenue for the sale of the asset as well as a lease receivable for the present value of the lease payments. Additionally, the lessor recognizes any profit or loss resulting from the transaction.

From the lessee’s perspective, it allows them to use the asset without having to purchase it outright. They make regular lease payments to the lessor over the lease term, essentially paying off the purchase price of the asset plus interest.

From an accounting perspective, a sales-type lease requires careful consideration of various factors such as the present value of lease payments, the useful life of the asset, residual value, and any implicit interest rate. Both lessors and lessees must adhere to accounting standards such as those set forth by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) in the United States or the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) globally.

Overall, a sales-type lease can provide benefits for both lessors and lessees, allowing for flexibility in financing and asset usage while also requiring careful financial management and reporting.

Impact of Current Lease Accounting Standards

Under both International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in the United States, lease accounting standards have undergone significant changes in recent years with the introduction of IFRS 16 and ASC 842, respectively. These changes have impacted how sales type leases are accounted for, such as the following:

  1. Recognition of Assets and Liabilities: Both IFRS 16 and ASC 842 require lessees to recognize assets and liabilities for leases with a term of more than 12 months, except for short-term leases and leases of low-value assets. In a sales type lease, the lessee recognizes both an asset (right-of-use asset) and a liability (lease liability) on its balance sheet, reflecting its right to use the leased asset and its obligation to make lease payments.
  2. Measurement of Lease Liability: The lease liability recognized by the lessee represents the present value of lease payments over the lease term. This includes fixed payments, variable lease payments that depend on an index or rate, and amounts expected to be payable under residual value guarantees. The discount rate used to calculate the present value is typically the lessee’s incremental borrowing rate.
  3. Measurement of Right-of-Use Asset: The right-of-use asset recognized by the lessee is initially measured at the amount of the lease liability, adjusted for any lease payments made at or before the commencement date, initial direct costs incurred by the lessee, and any lease incentives received.
  4. Subsequent Measurement and Accounting: After initial recognition, both the lease liability and the right-of-use asset are accounted for differently depending on the standard (IFRS or GAAP) and the classification of the lease (finance lease or operating lease). However, in a sales type lease, where the lessee effectively purchases the leased asset over the lease term, the subsequent accounting for the right-of-use asset and lease liability may be similar to that of a finance lease.
  5. Presentation and Disclosure: Both lessees and lessors are required to provide extensive disclosures about their leasing activities under IFRS 16 and ASC 842, with lessor accounting practices demanding detailed attention to the financial impacts and revenue recognition processes.. This includes information about the nature of their leases, the significant judgments made in applying the lease accounting requirements, and the amounts recognized in the financial statements.

While the accounting treatment of sales type leases under IFRS 16 and ASC 842 shares similarities with finance leases, there are specific considerations and requirements that lessees and lessors must adhere to under the current lease accounting standards. These standards aim to provide transparency and comparability in financial reporting related to leases.

How is a sales type lease different from other leasing arrangements?

Several criteria differentiate a sales type lease from other leasing arrangements, such as operating leases or direct financing leases. Here are the key differentiating factors:

  1. Transfer of Ownership: In a sales type lease, the lessor effectively transfers ownership of the leased asset to the lessee by the end of the lease term. This means that the lessee assumes substantially all the risks and rewards associated with ownership. In contrast, in operating leases, ownership typically remains with the lessor throughout the lease term.
  2. Purchase Option: A sales type lease often includes a bargain purchase option (BPO) that allows the lessee to purchase the asset at a price significantly below its fair market value at the end of the lease term. This option provides the lessee with the opportunity to acquire the asset outright, further reinforcing the transfer of ownership. Direct financing leases may also include a purchase option, but it may not necessarily be a bargain purchase option.
  3. Profit Recognition: In a sales type lease, the lessor recognizes a profit at the inception of the lease based on the difference between the fair value of the asset and its cost or carrying amount to the lessor. This profit is typically realized immediately upon commencement of the lease. In contrast, in a direct financing lease, the lessor does not recognize a profit upfront but earns interest income over the lease term based on the lease receivable.
  4. Risk and Reward: In a sales type lease, the lessee bears the risks and rewards associated with ownership, such as the risk of obsolescence, maintenance costs, and fluctuations in the asset’s residual value. This transfer of risks and rewards is a significant indicator of a sales type lease. In operating leases, the lessor retains these risks and rewards.
  5. Present Value of Lease Payments: The present value of lease payments in a sales type lease typically equals or exceeds the fair value of the leased asset. This indicates that the lease payments effectively cover the cost of the asset plus a profit margin for the lessor. In direct financing leases, the present value of lease payments may approximate the fair value of the asset, but the lessor’s profit margin is typically lower.

By considering these criteria, accounting standards such as IFRS 16 and ASC 842 provide guidance to classify leases as sales type leases, direct financing leases, or operating leases, each with distinct accounting treatments and financial statement disclosures.

What are the Financial Implications of a Sales Type Lease? 

A sales type lease carries significant financial implications for both the lessor and lessee. 

Financial Implications of a Sales Type Lease for Lessors:

For the lessor, lessor accounting under a sales type lease structure involves recognizing immediate revenue upon the inception of the lease, representing the fair value of the asset sold to the lessee.For the lessor, lessor accounting under a sales type lease structure involves recognizing immediate revenue upon the inception of the lease, representing the fair value of the asset sold to the lessee.

 Additionally, the lessor records a lease receivable on its balance sheet, representing the present value of future lease payments. This upfront recognition of profit and the subsequent accrual of interest income over the lease term impact the lessor’s income statement and cash flow. 

Impact on the Lessor’s Balance Sheet:

  1. Lease Receivable: The lessor records a lease receivable on the balance sheet, representing the present value of future lease payments.
  2. Asset: The lessor derecognizes the leased asset from its balance sheet (as it’s effectively sold to the lessee) or records it as a leased asset if the asset is still owned but leased out.
  3. Profit: A profit is recognized upfront, equal to the difference between the present value of lease payments and the cost or carrying amount of the asset.

Impact on the Lessor’s Income Statement:

  1. Sales Revenue: The lessor recognizes sales revenue for the leased asset upfront, typically equal to the fair value of the asset.
  2. Interest Income: The lessor earns interest income over the lease term based on the lease receivable.

Financial Implications of a Sales Type Lease for Lessees:

For the lessee, a sales type lease results in the recognition of right-of-use asses and a lease liability on the balance sheet, reflecting the asset’s usage rights and associated payment obligations. The lessee incurs depreciation expense for the right-of-use asset and interest expense on the lease liability over the lease term, affecting its profitability and financial position. These financial implications underscore the complexities and considerations involved in sales type lease arrangements, requiring careful evaluation and adherence to accounting standards. Below are more details on the impacts for lessees: 

Impact on the Lessee’s Balance Sheet:

  1. Right-of-Use Asset: The lessee records a right-of-use asset on the balance sheet, representing its right to use the leased asset over the lease term. This asset is initially measured at the present value of lease payments.
  2. Lease Liability: The lessee records a lease liability on the balance sheet, representing its obligation to make lease payments over the lease term. This liability is also measured at the present value of lease payments.

Impact on the Lessee’s Income Statement:

  1. Depreciation Expense: The lessee recognizes depreciation expense for the right-of-use asset over the lease term, typically on a straight-line basis.
  2. Interest Expense: The lessee incurs interest expense on the lease liability over the lease term. The interest expense is typically calculated using the effective interest method.
  3. Amortization of Lease Liability: The lessee reduces the lease liability over time as lease payments are made, recognizing amortization of the lease liability as an expense on the income statement.
  4. Other Operating Expenses: Any other expenses associated with the leased asset, such as maintenance costs, are also recognized on the income statement.

Other Financial Considerations:

  • Cash Flow: Both lessors and lessees will experience changes in cash flows due to lease payments and, for lessors, potential initial cash inflow from the sale of the asset.
  • Disclosure: Both lessors and lessees must provide extensive disclosures regarding their leasing activities, including the nature and terms of lease agreements, significant judgments made in applying lease accounting standards, and amounts recognized in the financial statements.

These financial implications demonstrate how a sales type lease affects the balance sheets and income statements of both lessors and lessees, reflecting the transfer of rights and obligations associated with the leased asset.

Real Life Examples of a Sales Type Lease in Action

Here are two real-life scenarios demonstrating how businesses commonly use sales type leases and the impact on financial reporting:

Scenario 1: Equipment Leasing Company

Imagine a company that specializes in leasing heavy machinery and equipment to construction firms. The company purchases equipment and leases it out to clients for fixed periods, often with a sales type lease arrangement.

The equipment leasing company enters into a sales type lease agreement with a construction firm for a bulldozer. The lease term is five years, and the lease payments cover the cost of the bulldozer plus a profit margin.

From a financial perspective, the lessor records a lease receivable (present value of lease payments) and derecognizes the bulldozer from its balance sheet. The lessor recognizes sales revenue upfront, equivalent to the fair value of the bulldozer. Over time, the lessor earns interest income from the lease receivable.

The lessee, meanwhile, records a right-of-use asset (bulldozer) and a lease liability (present value of lease payments). Both items are recognized at the commencement of the lease term. The lessee also recognizes depreciation expense for the bulldozer and interest expense on the lease liability over the lease term. These expenses affect the lessee’s profitability and financial performance. 

Scenario 2: ABC Salons 

ABC Salons operates a chain of salons and is looking to expand its presence by opening a new flagship store in a prime location. However, ABC doesn’t have the capital to purchase the property outright. Instead, it enters into a sales type lease agreement with XYZ Properties LLC, the owner of the property.

Terms of the Lease:

  • Lease Term: 10 years
  • Annual Lease Payments: $100,000
  • Bargain Purchase Option: At the end of the lease term, ABC Retail Inc. has the option to purchase the property at a predetermined price significantly below its fair market value.

Financial Implications for ABC Salons (Lessee):

  1. Balance Sheet: ABC Salons recognizes a right-of-use asset representing its right to use the property and a lease liability representing its obligation to make lease payments. Both the asset and liability are initially measured at the present value of lease payments.
  2. Income Statement: ABC Salons recognizes depreciation expense for the right-of-use asset and interest expense on the lease liability over the lease term. These expenses affect its profitability.
  3. Cash Flow: ABC Salons incurs annual lease payments, impacting its cash flow. However, the lease arrangement allows ABC to conserve capital for other business needs while expanding its retail footprint.

Financial Implications for XYZ Properties LLC (Lessor):

  1. Balance Sheet: XYZ Properties LLC records a lease receivable representing the present value of future lease payments and derecognizes the property from its balance sheet.
  2. Income Statement: XYZ Properties LLC recognizes sales revenue upfront, equivalent to the fair value of the property. Over time, XYZ Properties LLC earns interest income from the lease receivable, impacting its profitability.
  3. Cash Flow: XYZ Properties LLC receives upfront cash inflow from the sales revenue and subsequently earns interest income from lease payments, improving its cash flow.

In this scenario, ABC Salons benefits from the use of the property without the need for a large initial capital outlay, while XYZ Properties LLC generates revenue from the sale of the property and earns interest income from lease payments. This sales type lease arrangement allows both parties to achieve their respective objectives while spreading out financial obligations over time.

In both scenarios, businesses utilize sales type leases to provide customers with access to assets without requiring upfront purchase. The financial reporting impacts vary for lessors and lessees, with recognition of revenue, assets, liabilities, and expenses reflecting the transfer of rights and obligations associated with the leased assets. These examples illustrate how sales type leases affect financial statements and demonstrate their relevance in various industries.

How are Sales Type Leases Different from Operating Leases and Direct Financing Leases?

Understanding the differences between these lease types allows businesses to choose the most suitable option based on their financial objectives, asset requirements, and long-term strategies.

Here’s a quick overview: 

  • Sales Type Lease: Ideal for long-term commitments where the lessee desires ownership and a bargain purchase option.
  • Operating Lease: Suitable for short-term needs and when flexibility and off-balance sheet financing are priorities.
  • Direct Financing Lease: Appropriate for financing needs without the desire for ownership and when interest income is preferred over upfront profit recognition.

Now let’s contrast sales type leases with operating leases and direct financing leases, and provide some guidance on when each type might be most appropriate. 

Sales Type Lease:

In this lease, the lessor effectively sells the leased asset to the lessee, who makes lease payments covering the cost of the asset plus a profit margin.

Best Scenarios for Sales Type Lease:

  • Transfer of Ownership: When the lessee desires ownership of the asset at the end of the lease term.
  • Bargain Purchase Option: When the lessee wants the option to purchase the asset at a significantly reduced price (bargain purchase option).
  • Profit Recognition: When the lessor aims to recognize profit upfront at the inception of the lease.

Considerations:

  • Capital Intensive Assets: Sales type leases are suitable for high-value assets, such as machinery, equipment, or vehicles, where the lessor can earn a substantial profit margin.
  • Long-Term Commitments: Typically used for long-term lease agreements where the lessee commits to using the asset for an extended period.

Operating Lease:

In an operating lease, the lessor retains ownership of the asset, and the lessee pays rent for the use of the asset over the lease term.

Best Scenarios:

  • Short-Term Needs: When the lessee needs the asset for a short period without the intention of ownership.
  • Maintenance Included: When the lessor is responsible for maintenance and repairs of the asset.
  • Flexibility: When the lessee needs flexibility to upgrade to newer equipment or adjust lease terms easily.

Considerations:

  • Operating Expenses: Operating leases typically result in lower initial costs and don’t require the lessee to recognize assets and liabilities on the balance sheet.
  • Off-Balance Sheet Financing: Operating leases allow businesses to keep leased assets off the balance sheet, which can be beneficial for financial ratios and debt covenants.

Direct Financing Lease:

In a direct financing lease, the lessor provides financing for the acquisition of an asset, with the lease payments covering the cost of the asset plus interest.

Best Scenarios:

  • Financing Needs: When the lessee requires financing for the acquisition of the asset but doesn’t seek ownership.
  • Interest Income: When the lessor wants to earn interest income over the lease term without recognizing upfront profit.
  • Transfer of Risks and Rewards: When the risks and rewards associated with ownership are transferred to the lessee but the lessor doesn’t want to recognize profit upfront.

Considerations:

  • Interest Rate Considerations: Direct financing leases often involve interest rates that reflect the creditworthiness of the lessee and prevailing market rates.
  • Profit Recognition: Unlike sales type leases, direct financing leases do not involve upfront recognition of profit by the lessor.

Sales type leases are an interesting opportunity for some businesses to purchase an asset over time, and offer benefits to both the lessor and the lessee. From the lessor’s recognition of immediate revenue and ongoing interest income to the lessee’s recording of right-of-use assets and lease liabilities, sales type leases present both challenges and opportunities for businesses navigating lease arrangements. By understanding the nuances of sales type leases and contrasting them with other lease types, businesses can make informed decisions aligned with their financial objectives and operational needs. Whether seeking ownership, flexibility, or financing options, the insights provided in this guide empower business owners, financial professionals, and students to navigate the complexities of lease accounting effectively. Armed with this knowledge, stakeholders can confidently navigate sales type leases and leverage them as strategic tools to drive business success in today’s dynamic economic landscape.


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