Buying Versus Leasing Business Assets
Youíve just started your own business and are having a hard time deciding whether to buy or lease the equipment you need before you open your doors. What are some of the things you should consider when making this decision?
Deciding whether to buy or lease business property is just one of the many tough decisions facing the small business owner. Unfortunately, there's not a quick answer and, since every business has different fact patterns, each business owner will need to assess every type of business property separately and consider many different factors to make a decision that is right for his or her particular circumstances.
While there are advantages and disadvantages to both buying and leasing business property, the business owner should carefully consider the following questions before making a final decision either way:
How's your cash flow? If you are just starting a business, cash may be tight and a hefty down payment on a piece of equipment may bust your budget. In that case, since equipment leases rarely require down payments, leasing may be a good choice for you. One of the biggest advantages of leasing is that you generally gain the use of the asset with a much smaller initial cash expenditure than would be required if you purchased it.
How's your credit? Loans to new small businesses are hard to come by so if you're a fairly new business, leasing may be your only option outside of getting a personal loan. As a new business, you will definitely have an easier time getting a company to lease equipment to you than finding someone to extend you credit to make the purchase. However, if you have time to search for credit well in advance of needing the equipment, you may want to purchase the equipment to begin establishing a credit history for your company.
How long will you use it? A general rule of thumb is that leasing is very cost-effective for items like autos, computers and other equipment that decrease in value over time and will be used for about five years or less. On the other hand, if you are considering business property that you intend to use more than five years or that will appreciate over time, the overall cost of leasing will usually exceed the cost of buying it outright in the first place.
What's your tax situation? Don't forget that your tax return will be affected by your decision to lease or buy. Generally, if you purchase an asset, it is depreciated over its useful life. If you lease an asset, the tax treatment will depend on what type of lease is involved. There are two basic types of leases: capital leases and operating leases. Capital leases are handled similarly to a purchase and work best for companies that intend to keep the property at the end of the lease. Payments on operating leases, on the other hand, are deductible in full in the year paid.
The answers to each question above need to be considered not individually, but as a group, since many factors must be weighed before a decision is made. Buying or leasing equipment can have a significant effect on your tax situation and the rules related to accounting for leases are very technical. Please contact our office before you make any decisions regarding your business equipment.
The information presented in this document is of a general nature only and should not be relied upon to replace professional advice. Before acting on this information, talk with a professional adivisor as laws and regulations are constantly changing. Readers accept full responsibility; no document found here is a substitute for a consultation.