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Leases Learn about accounting for leases under IFRS 16.

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Leases Learn about accounting for leases under IFRS 16.

Leases: Accounting Under IFRS 16

The accounting for leases has undergone significant changes with the introduction of the International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 16. This new standard, effective since January 1, 2019, brought substantial changes in how lessees and lessors account for leases, aiming to increase transparency and comparability among organizations. This article provides an in-depth look at the impact of IFRS 16, focusing on its application, challenges, and implications for financial reporting.

 Introduction to IFRS 16

IFRS 16 replaces the previous lease accounting standard, IAS 17, and its related interpretations. The primary objective of IFRS 16 is to eliminate the distinction between operating and finance leases for lessees, thereby bringing most leases onto the balance sheet. It provides a single lessee accounting model, requiring lessees to recognize assets and liabilities for all leases with a term of more than 12 months, unless the underlying asset is of low value.

 Lessee Accounting

Under IFRS 16, lessees must recognize a right-of-use asset and a lease liability at the lease commencement date. The right-of-use asset represents the lessee’s right to use the leased asset for the lease term, while the lease liability reflects the obligation to make lease payments.

 Initial Recognition

The lease liability is initially measured at the present value of the lease payments not yet paid at the lease commencement date. The right-of-use asset is initially measured at cost, which typically includes the lease liability, any lease payments made at or before the commencement date, plus any initial direct costs incurred by the lessee.

 Subsequent Measurement

The lease liability is subsequently increased by the interest on the lease liability and decreased by the lease payment made. The right-of-use asset is depreciated over the shorter of the asset’s useful life and the lease term.

Lessor Accounting

Under IFRS 16, lessor accounting remains substantially unchanged from IAS 17. Lessors continue to classify leases as either operating or finance leases. Finance leases transfer substantially all the risks and rewards incidental to ownership of the underlying asset to the lessee, whereas operating leases do not.

 Finance Leases

In a finance lease, the lessor recognizes a receivable at an amount equal to the net investment in the lease. The lease income is recognized over the lease term, reflecting a constant periodic rate of return.

Operating Leases

Under an operating lease, the lessor continues to recognize the leased asset in its statement of financial position. The lessor recognizes lease income on a straight-line basis over the lease term, with any variable lease payments recognized in the period in which the obligation for those payments is incurred.

 Impact on Financial Statements

The adoption of IFRS 16 significantly impacts the financial statements of lessees:Balance Sheet: Increased asset and liability recognition.

Income Statement:

Shift from lease expense for operating leases to depreciation and interest expense.
Cash Flow Statement:

Classification of lease payments in financing activities instead of operating activities.

Challenges and Implementation

Implementing IFRS 16 poses several challenges, including:

Data Collection:

Gathering data for all lease contracts.

Systems and Processes:

Updating accounting systems and processes to accommodate the new standard.

Judgment and Estimation:

Applying judgment and estimation, particularly in determining the lease term and discount rate.


IFRS 16 brings a fundamental change to lease accounting, particularly for lessees. By requiring almost all leases to be reflected on the balance sheet, it enhances transparency and comparability. However, this comes with challenges in implementation and impacts key financial metrics. Businesses must carefully evaluate their lease contracts and adapt their accounting practices to align with this new standard. As organizations worldwide navigate these changes, the benefits of increased transparency and a more accurate representation of a company’s financial position become evident, contributing to more informed decision-making by stakeholders.

This article presents a comprehensive analysis of the accounting treatment for leases under IFRS 16, discussing its application, effects, and challenges. As financial standards continue to evolve, it’s crucial for businesses and accounting professionals to stay informed and adapt to these changes to ensure compliance and accuracy in financial reporting.