Lease Finance vs. Installment Sale

There are various options available in a business to finance its assets. It may be an operating lease, financial lease or installment sale, and a host of others. However, the financial and accounting implications should be taken into account in making decisions. Leasing is a practice that allows a person to use the asset for an agreed period of time against payment of lease rentals. At the end of the term, the lessor can sell the asset to a lessee or terminate/extend the agreement as per mutual consent. Let us see in detail lease finance vs installment sale.

Majorly, there are two types of lease transactions:

Financial Lease

Finance/capital lease is long-term in nature and is continued till the economic life of the asset. The cumulative lease rental payments throughout the contract are greater than the asset’s initial cost. Examples are: Taking a building or factory on a lease.

Operating Lease

This type of lease is short-term in nature and is generally for a specific period that is much less than the asset’s economic life. The total lease rentals during the leased period do not exceed the cost of the leased asset. Hiring a car, for instance, is an example of an operating lease.

Lease Finance vs Installment Sale

An installment sale is one of the finance facilities to buy vehicles or other assets in exchange for a specified series of payments. The ownership transfers at the end of the credit agreement. It may or may not include interest and carries certain tax advantages i.e.

It can be used for all types of properties, except:

  1. Securities are traded in exchange markets.
  2. Property for sale in the ordinary course.

Lease Finance vs Installment Sale


An installment sale is a sale, whereas lease financing is a type of rental contract with a purchase option between the two parties.

Ownership of the Asset

The ownership transfers to the user at the end of the installment period in an installment sale. Whereas in the case of lease financing, the lessee has to transfer the asset to the lessor after the end of the lease period, and the lessee has an option to purchase or not to purchase the asset.

Tax Benefits

The total deduction for taxation purposes is the same for leasing and installment sale. However, in the case of leasing, it takes twice as long to write off the asset as compared to an installment sale. The lessor claims the depreciation in lease financing whereas, in an installment sale, the user claims the depreciation.

Balance Sheet Appearance

In lease financing, the asset’s value is not included in the financial statements since the lessee is not the owner. Whereas in the case of the installment sale, the installments are capitalized, i.e., the asset appears on the asset side of the balance sheet, and a corresponding liability against such asset appears on the liability side.

Overall Cost of the Asset

In the case of lease financing, the asset’s cost is the cost of using the asset over its life. In the case of the installment sale, the installment includes the principal amount and the interest for the term till the last installment is paid.


Generally, leasing is suitable for longer periods and assets like land, property, heavy vehicles, and huge plant and machinery. An installment sale is made for short periods and assets like light moving vehicles, electrical items, small machinery, etc.

Maintenance Support of the Asset

In the case of operating lease financing, the repairs and maintenance of the asset are borne by the lessor, and in the case of the financial lease, it is borne by the lessee. In an installment sale, the responsibility lies with the user.

Reduced Initial Cash Outlay

Since there is no immediate purchase of an asset in an installment sale, the cash flow is limited up to the margin money, i.e., the down payment or the deposit as it is so called, in addition to the periodic installments. In the case of lease financing, the monthly rentals are the only cash flows during the entire useful life of the asset.

It is, therefore, necessary to know the consequences while dealing with lease transactions and installment sales. The person should analyze the options with a different outlook. The economic viability of the transactions, along with the entries in financial statements, shall be according to the specified acts and rules. Also, the income tax consequences, as well as the VAT consequences, should not be overlooked.

Sanjay Borad

Sanjay Bulaki Borad

Sanjay Borad is the founder & CEO of eFinanceManagement. He is passionate about keeping and making things simple and easy. Running this blog since 2009 and trying to explain "Financial Management Concepts in Layman's Terms".

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