Lease accounting standard

Evaluate your leases now to prepare for lease accounting standard implementation

A high-level overview of major changes coming to FASB’s lease accounting standard.

If you think lease accounting is simple, just wait a few more years! Whether it’s the accounting for leases itself or the effect on your financial statements, implementing the FASB’s new lease accounting standard may be a time-consuming adventure. This article provides a high-level overview of the major changes coming and how they differ from existing standards.

ASC 842, Leases, released in February of 2016, takes effect no later than December 15, 2018, for public entities and December 15, 2019, for all other entities, although early adoption is permitted. Leases will incorporate a “right-of-use” model based on the party who holds the risks and affects both the lessor and lessee.

Lessee accounting – operating versus finance leases:

Balance sheet presentation – Regardless of the lease classification, lessees will be required to record an asset and a related lease liability for leases with terms in excess of one year.

Right-to-use assets must be tested for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances occur that indicate the carrying value may not be recoverable.

Income statement presentationOperating leases will record lease expense that is calculated using the straight-line basis over the length of the lease, which is then allocated between an amortization and interest component. Finance leases (previously “capital leases”) will record interest expense that is calculated using the effective interest method based on the lease liability and amortization expense on a straight-line method based on the right-of-use asset.

Lessor accounting – sales-type, direct financing, and operating leases:

Balance sheet presentation – Both sales-type and direct financing leases will record (a) the net investment in the lease (the present value of the lease payments and any unguaranteed residual value) and (b) the disposition of the asset, and (c) the resulting gain or loss from disposition, if any. An operating lease will have no effect on the balance sheet of a lessor, since the asset will continue to be depreciated using the asset’s useful life.

Income statement presentationSales-type leases will record any profit or loss on the sale of the leased asset at the time of lease commencement, whereas direct financing leases will defer the selling profit, but record the loss at the time of lease commencement. Both sales-type and direct financing leases will calculate interest income using the effective rate of interest. An operating lease will report all lease revenue at the gross amount on the income statement.

Other significant changes in the leases standard include the following:

  • Key financial ratios are likely to change, such as return on assets (ROA), debt-to-equity, and total liabilities. Financial statement users, such as banks, may set limits on a company’s ability to borrow based on these types of metrics, so that even if the company’s financial situation is unchanged, its financial statements appear different.
  • Enhanced disclosures and presentation requirements
  • Leveraged leases are no longer permitted, although pre-existing leveraged leases are grandfathered in until they expire or become modified.
  • The new guidance must be implemented on a modified retrospective transition. In other words, Leases must be implemented at the beginning of the earliest period shown on the financial statements. However, there is relief in the form of “practical expedients” that can lessen the burden of the transition.


For more information about lease accounting and how it affects your organization, please contact Aron Dunn using the information below.

Aron Dunn

Senior Vice President
Assurance Services

Aron Dunn devotes a significant part of his practice to serving agribusiness clients and leads AGH’s agribusiness team. During more than 20 years helping ag-related clients build and preserve wealth, Aron's experience includes elevator operations, grain mills, renewable fuels, food processing entities, and cattle feeding operations. He has expertise in grain inventory existence, grain inventory valuation, hedging programs, grain-in-transit programs, grain basis and other highly specialized aspects of agribusiness. In addition, he has special-project background in mergers and acquisitions and refinancing.

Aron is a certified public accountant and a member of both the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Kansas Society of Certified Public Accountants (KSCPA). At one point, he served as the youngest-ever KSCPA chair, long time former chair of the KSCPA’s Auditing and Accounting task force and the Peer Review Process Improvement Task Force, and is a past president of the Wichita Chapter of the KSCPA. He is a former member of AICPA's Accounting & Review Services Committee among other AICPA committees and task forces.

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