Capital Lease vs Operating Lease

Difference Between Capital and Operating Lease

There are different accounting methods for the lease where in case of capital lease ownership of asset under consideration might be transferred at the lease term end to the lessee whereas in case of Operating Lease ownership of asset under consideration is retained by lessor.

A lease is a contractual agreement between the lessor (owner of the asset)Lessor (owner Of The Asset)A lessor is an individual who legally owns the asset granted on a lease (rented for a long tenure) to the lessee who pays a single lump sum amount or regular payments for using that asset.read more and the lessee (rents the asset). They are classified into two types depending on how the risk of ownership and benefits are transferred.

Capital-Lease-vs-Operating-Lease

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Source: Capital Lease vs Operating Lease (wallstreetmojo.com)

What is a Capital Lease?

It is also called financial Lease. A capital lease is a lease that transfers all the risks and rewards incidental to ownership of an asset substantially. In other words, the capital lease can be lease under which the present value of the minimum lease payments at the inception of the lease exceeds or is equal to substantially the whole of the fair value of the leased asset. It is a lease in which the lesseeLesseeA Lessee, also called a Tenant, is an individual (or entity) who rents the land or property (generally immovable) from a lessor (property owner) under a legal lease agreement. read more records the underlying asset as though its asset, which means that the lessor is treated as a party that happens to be financing an asset that the lessee owns.

The lessor should treat a lease as a finance lease if any of the following criteria provided below are met:

  • There is an option to buy the leased asset; or
  • Lease period covers at least seventy five % of the useful life of the asset; or
  • Ownership of the leased asset shifts to the lessee following the lease expiration; or
  • The minimum present value of the lease payments totals at least ninety % of the fair value of the asset at the starting of the lease.

What is an Operating Lease?

The operating lease is stated as a lease agreement that does not involve the transfer of substantial risk and rewards of ownership of the asset leased to the lessee. It generally has a period that is significantly less than the fair value of the asset leased.

Leases that do not meet any of the four criteria are accounted for an Operating Lease.

  • Test 1: Transfer of ownership
  • Test 2: Bargain purchase option?
  • Test 3: Lease term > = 75% of economic life?
  • Test 4: Present value of payments  >= 90% Fair Market Value?

If all of the criteria are true, then it will be accounted for a capital lease.

Capital Lease vs. Operating Lease Infographics

Capital-Lease-vs-Operating-Lease-info

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Analyst’s Perspective

Classification of Leases

A piece of equipment with a market price of (FMV) of US$100,000 and a useful life of 5 years is leased to a lessee for a period of 4 years. The lease paymentsThe Lease PaymentsLease payments are the payments where the lessee under the lease agreement has to pay monthly fixed rental for using the asset to the lessor. The ownership of such an asset is generally taken back by the owner after the lease term expiration.read more are US$26,000 a year. The borrowing rate for the firm is 8%, and the rate implicit in the lease is 7%. There is no provision for a lessee to purchase an asset at the end of the lease term, nor any bargain purchase option.

capital-lease-vs-operating-lease-example

Let us first look at whether this is a capital lease or Operating Lease. For understanding this, we perform the tests to determine the same.

capital-lease-vs-operating-lease-test-1-and-2

Test 1 and Test 2 results in Operating Lease

capital-lease-vs-operating-lease-test-3

Test 3 implies it is Capital LeaseCapital LeaseA capital lease is a legal agreement of any business equipment or property equivalent or sale of an asset by one party (lesser) to another (lessee). The lesser agrees to transfer the ownership rights to the lessee once the lease period is completed, and it is generally non-cancellable and long-term in nature.read more.

capital-lease-vs-operating-lease-test-4

Test 4 implies this is an Operating Lease.

Overall, we know that if ANY of the tests is not met, then the lease is classified as Capital Lease.

Example

We will use the same example for the comparison.

A piece of equipment with a market price of (FMV) of US$100,000 and a useful life of 5 years is leased to a lessee for a period of 4 years. The lease paymentsThe Lease PaymentsLease payments are the payments where the lessee under the lease agreement has to pay monthly fixed rental for using the asset to the lessor. The ownership of such an asset is generally taken back by the owner after the lease term expiration.read more are US$26,000 a year. The borrowing rate for the firm is 8%, and the rate implicit in the lease is 7%. There is no provision for Lessee to purchase an asset at the end of the lease term, nor any bargain purchase option.

Balance Sheet Effect

  • In the Operating Lease, there is NO balance sheet impact.
  • The balance sheet impact comes only in the Capital Lease.
  • Present value at 7% is $88,067
  • Both Asset and Liability increases by the present value of lease payments at the inception
capital-lease-part-1

Balance Sheet Effect as the payments are made as per below

capital-lease-balance-sheet-impact-part-2

Book Value of AssetsBook Value Of AssetsBook Value of Assets is the asset's value in the books of records of a company or an institution at any given instance. Assets Book Value Formula = Total Value of an Asset – Depreciation – Other Expenses Directly Related to it read more at the end of each year.

Book Value of Asset (CL Calculation)

Please note that the following –

  • Depreciation (term of 4 years) = $88,067/4 = $22,017,
  • Principal repayments equal the lease payments LESS interest expense
  • The asset is being depreciated at a rate that is different from the rate of amortization for the liability. The two values are equal only at the inception and termination of the lease

Income Statement Effect

Income Statement Effect
  • Operating income is higher for capital lease (This is because depreciation expense for capital lease is lower than the lease payments)
  • Net income is lower in the early years for a capital lease
Income Statement Impact

Cash Flow Effect

Cash Flow Impact

Key Differences

  • The net income will be higher in Operating lease in the initial years because the amount of depreciation and interest expenses will be higher in the finance lease. As the lease comes to an end, the situation will reverse. However, the total Net income over the entire period of the lease will add up to the same number, under both categorizations as these are only reporting mechanisms.
  • EBIT is higher under Capital lease because a part of the lease payment is interest payment, and this is reported below the EBIT and on the Income statement; however, the entire lease payment is reported above the EBIT under Operating lease.
  • CFO is higher for capital lease because a portion of the lease that goes towards a reduction in the debt liability is a part of the cash flow from financing, and only interest forms part of the CFO. Further taxes are lower due to depreciation, and the depreciation is added back. However, under the Operating Lease, the entire lease payment reduces the CFO, and the tax is higher due to a lack of depreciation expense.
  • So naturally, CFF is lower for financial lease and higher for Operating lease, however over the entire lease period, the sum of the change in cash remains the same.

Capital Lease vs. Operating Lease Comparative Table

Criteria/Item Capital Lease Operating Lease
Nature It is an alternative to buying the PPE using debt-financing It is an alternative to renting the PPE for a fixed rental payment.
Impact on the Income statement Depreciation of the PPE and the interest on the debt financing are mentioned in the Income statement. Only rental payments are the expenses that are mentioned in the income statement.
Impact on the Balance sheet The PV of the lease payments or the fair value of the PPE is reported on the balance sheet (whichever is lower). So the assets increase as the PPE is capitalized, the liabilities increase as the debt financing is added to it. No impact is made on the balance sheet as the lease is purely expensed.
Impact on Cash flow statementCash Flow StatementStatement of Cash flow is a statement in financial accounting which reports the details about the cash generated and the cash outflow of the company during a particular accounting period under consideration from the different activities i.e., operating activities, investing activities and financing activities.read more 
  • Depreciation is added back as it is a non-cash expense, and therefore, CFO is higher.
  • Depreciation and interest reduce the profits, and therefore lower taxes are paid in the initial years.
  • Cash flow from financing activities is affected by debt financing, and the principal repayments made for the debt used to finance the lease.              Interest on the financing reduces CFO.
 As only lease payments are a part of the income statement, the taxes are higher, so they reduce the CFO, and the lease payments form a part of the CFO instead of cash flows from financing.
Off-balance sheet financing As the asset is recorded in the balance sheet and the debt liability is created, the ratios such as return on asset and debt to equity ratio look smaller and may imply a lack of efficiency or lower solvency. As no asset is recorded in the balance sheet and no debt liability is created, the ratios such as return on asset ratio and debt to equity ratio look better.
Risk of obsolescence At the end of the lease period, the ownership of the asset is transferred to the Lessee, so the risk of obsolescence is also transferred, and if there is some technological innovation, which makes the asset obsolete by then, the Lessee is stuck with it. So this risk is low for the Lessor and high for the Lessee. At the end of the lease period, the asset is returned to the Lessor, so the risk of obsolescence is low for the Lessee and high for the Lessor.
US GAAP vs. IFRS classification US GAAP is more specific, as it mentions that there can be two types of leases under Capital lease and any one of the following conditions being met leads to a classification as Capital lease:

 

IFRS mentions a more generic categorization saying that all risk and rewards should be transferred to the Lessee

 Under US GAAP, if none of the prerequisites of Capital lease is satisfied, then it is classified as an operating lease.

 

IFRS mentions a more generic categorization saying that all risks and rewards should not be transferred to the Lessee.

Ratio Analysis 
  • Lower Current & Asset turnover Ratios
  • Lower Working capital
  • Lower return on assets and equity
  • Higher debt to equity and asset ratios
 
  • Higher Current and  Asset turnover Ratios;
  • Higher Working capital
  • Higher return on assets and equity
  • Lower debt to equity and asset ratios

Capital Lease vs. Operating Lease Video

 

 

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Comments

  1. AvatarStephen Warner says

    First I want to thank you for giving a brief knowledge on Lease, I had little knowledge about the capital lease and operating lease but by going through your article I got a clear explanation on these two. Thanks a lot.