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Leases

Date recorded:

The IASB held its first substantive discussion on the joint project on leasing. The FASB staff joined the meeting by video link for this session.

Identification of assets and liabilities arising in a simple lease

The staff presented a paper identifying the rights and obligations arising on the lessor's and lessee's side in a simple non-cancellable lease arrangement (the example). The current and proposed working definitions of assets and liabilities in the Conceptual Framework project were applied to the identified rights and obligations.

The Board unanimously agreed that the following rights and obligations in the example meet both the current and proposed definitions of assets and liabilities:

Lessee:

  • Right to use the machinery during the lease term
  • Obligation to make specified payments over the lease term

Lessor:

  • Right to receive payments during the lease term
  • Right to the economic benefits deliverable from the use of the machinery in the period after the lease term (residual rights)

The Board unanimously agreed that the following rights and obligations in the example do not meet the both the current and proposed definitions of assets and liabilities:

Lessee:

  • Obligation to return the machinery at the end of the lease term

Lessor:

  • Right to return of machinery at the end of the lease
  • Obligation to permit the use of the machinery during the lease term

Even though the Board unanimously agreed to the outcome of the staff analysis some Board members pointed out that the example used ignored many of the complexities of real life leasing transactions. In particular the following comments were made:

  • There should be a distinction between the right to use the machinery and the right to use the economic benefits (of the machinery).
  • The economic benefits derived by the lessor may be different to those derived by the lessee and this might have implications when calculating fair values.
  • Attention should be paid to the question when these rights and liabilities arise. Particularly the Board questioned the statement in the paper that 'under a non-cancellable lease the right to use the machinery and the obligation to pay for its use is unconditional once the machinery has been delivered to the lessee'.
  • The obligation to return itself is not a liability but if the machinery has to be returned in a certain condition liabilities may arise.

The staff observed that all these issues will be taken into consideration at a later stage.

Analyses of accounting models for a simple lease

The Board discussed four accounting models:

The right of use model

This model is based upon the premise that once the physical item has been delivered, the lessee has an unconditional right to use that machinery during the lease term.

The lessee recognises as an asset its right to use the machinery during the lease term and a liability for the rentals payable under the lease. The lessee only recognises as an asset its right to use the machinery for the lease term. It does not recognise any rights in respect of the physical item beyond the lease term. Consequently, the lessee does not recognise a liability under the simple lease example in respect of its obligation to return the physical item as this obligation does not give rise to an outflow of economic benefits from the lessee.

The lessor recognises two assets: its right to receive rental payments (a contractual right under the lease); and its interest in the machinery (the residual property rights).

The whole asset model

The whole asset model is based on the premise that during the lease term, the leased item is under the control of the lessee. Accordingly, this model recognises the leased item in full as an asset of the lessee, i.e. both the right to the economic benefits during the lease term and the possession of the asset at the end of the lease term. In effect, the full economic value of the machinery is recognised. To correspond to these assets, the lessee recognises two liabilities; a liability for the payments to be made over the lease term and a liability representing the lessee's obligation to return the asset at the end of the lease term. Where the lease is for substantially all of the leased item's expected useful life, the obligation to return the item at the end of the term is comparatively insignificant. For a short-term lease the obligation to return will be more substantial.

The lessor recognises as an asset its right to receive payments under the lease and an asset representing its right to have the machinery returned at the end of the lease term. The lessor does not recognise its contractual obligation to permit the use of the machinery during the lease term. Instead, the lessor derecognises the machinery.

The executory contract model

Under this model, all leases are treated as executory contracts. It is based upon the premise that the lessee's right to use the machinery is conditional upon making payments under the lease ('day-to-day lease'). Similarly, the lessee's obligation to make payments is assumed to be conditional upon the lessor granting the lessee quiet enjoyment of the machinery throughout the lease term. The model is therefore very similar to the operating lease model used in current accounting standards.

The model adopted in current IFRSs

In contrast to the other three models the current accounting treatment of leases is based on a hybrid model classifying leases as either finance leases or operating leases.

The Board saw no merits in further developing the whole asset model and the executory contract model and decided to focus on the right of use model.

Related Topics

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