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A finance lease is a full-payout, non-cancelable agreement, in which the lessee is responsible for maintenance, taxes and insurance. Finance leases are most attractive in cases where the lessee wants the tax benefits of ownership or expects the equipment’s residual value to be high. These leases are structured as equipment financing agreements with residuals up to 10 percent. The lessee purchases the equipment upon lease termination at a pre-agreed amount. The term of a finance lease tends to be longer, nearly covering the useful life of the equipment.
This type of lease classified and accounted for by a lessee as a purchase and by the lessor as a sale or financing, if it meets any one of the following criteria: (a) the lessor transfers ownership to the lessee at the end of the lease term; (b) the lease contains an option to purchase the asset at a bargain price; (c) the lease term is equal to 75 percent or more of the estimated economic life of the property (exceptions for used property leased toward the end of its useful life); or (d) the present value of minimum lease rental payments is equal to 90 percent or more of the fair market value of the leased asset less related investment tax credits retained by the lessor.
An operating lease is particularly attractive to companies that continually update or replace equipment and want to use equipment without ownership, but also want to return equipment at lease-end and avoid technological obsolescence.
A lease, wherein, the lessor recognizes the tax incentives provided by tax laws for both investment and ownership of equipment. Generally, the lease rate factor on tax leases is reduced to reflect the lessor’s recognition of this tax incentive.