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Equipment leasing is obtaining the use of machinery, vehicles or other equipment on a rental basis. This avoids the need to invest capital in equipment. Ownership rests in the hands of the financial institution or leasing company, while the business has the actual use of it.
There are many advantages of leasing like making lower monthly payments than you’d have with a loan, getting a fixed financing rate instead of a floating rate, benefiting from tax advantages, conserving working capital and avoiding cash-devouring down payments, and gaining immediate access to the most up-to-date business tools. The equipment also shows up on your income statement as a lease expense rather than a purchase. If you purchase it, your balance sheet becomes less liquid.
A lease is in essence an extended rental agreement wherein the owner of the equipment (the lessor) allows the user (the lessee) to operate or otherwise make use of the equipment in exchange for periodic lease payments. “There are a number of reasons that companies sometimes prefer to lease equipment rather than buying it,” said Richard A. Brealey and Stewart C. Myers in Principles of Corporate Finance. “For example, there may be good tax reasons. If the operator cannot use the depreciation tax shield, it makes sense to sell the equipment to someone who can. Also, the lessor may be better able to bear the risk of obsolescence, or be in a better position to resell secondhand assets. The lessor may be able to offer a very good deal on maintenance. Finally, it may be much less costly in time and effort to arrange a simple lease contract on a standard item of equipment than to arrange a normal loan.”
A finance lease or capital lease is a type of lease. It is a commercial arrangement where: (this is from wiki)
• the lessee (customer or borrower) will select a asset (equipment, vehicle, software);
• the lessor (finance company) will purchase that asset;
• the lessee will have use of that asset during the lease;
• the lessee will pay a series of rentals or installments for the use of that asset;
• the lessor will recover a large part or all of the cost of the asset plus earn interest from the rentals paid by the lessee;
• the lessee has the option to acquire ownership of the asset (e.g. paying the last rental, or bargain option purchase price);