IFRS 16 makes significant changes to sale and leaseback accounting. A sale and leaseback transaction is one where an entity (the seller-lessee) transfers an asset to another entity (the buyer-lessor) for consideration and leases that
asset back from the buyer-lessor.
A sale and leaseback transaction is a popular way for entities to secure long-term financing from substantial property, plant and equipment assets such as land and buildings. IAS 17 covered the accounting for a sale and leaseback
transaction in considerable detail but only from the perspective of the seller-lessee.
As IFRS 16 has withdrawn the concepts of operating leases and finance leases from lessee accounting, the accounting requirements that the seller-lessee must apply to a sale and leaseback are more straight forward. In addition, IFRS 16 provides an overview of the accounting requirements for buyer-lessors too.
When a seller-lessee has undertaken a sale and lease back transaction with a buyer-lessor, both the seller-lessee and the buyer-lessor must first determine whether the transfer qualifies as a sale. This determination is based on the requirements for satisfying a performance obligation in IFRS 15 ‘Revenue from Contracts with Customers’.
The accounting treatment will vary depending on whether or not the transfer qualifies as a sale. This is described below.
Transfer of the asset is a sale
If the transfer qualifies as a sale and the transaction is on market terms the seller-lessee effectively splits the previous carrying amount of the underlying asset into:
• a right-of-use asset arising from the leaseback, and
• the rights in the underlying asset retained by the buyer-lessor at the end of the leaseback.
The seller-lessee recognises a portion of the total gain or loss on the sale. The amount recognised is calculated by splitting the total gain or loss into:
• an unrecognised amount relating to the rights retained by the seller-lessee, and
• a recognised amount relating to the buyer-lessor’s rights in the underlying asset at the end of the leaseback.
The leaseback itself is then accounted for under the lessee accounting model.