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Publication 535

Cost of Getting a Lease(p10)

For Use in Tax Year 2015
You may either enter into a new lease with the lessor of the property or get an existing lease from another lessee. Very often when you get an existing lease from another lessee, you must pay the previous lessee money to get the lease, besides having to pay the rent on the lease.
If you get an existing lease on property or equipment for your business, you generally must amortize any amount you pay to get that lease over the remaining term of the lease. For example, if you pay $10,000 to get a lease and there are 10 years remaining on the lease with no option to renew, you can deduct $1,000 each year.
The cost of getting an existing lease of tangible property is not subject to the amortization rules for section 197 intangibles discussed in chapter 8.

Option to renew.(p10)

For Use in Tax Year 2015
The term of the lease for amortization includes all renewal options plus any other period for which you and the lessor reasonably expect the lease to be renewed. However, this applies only if less than 75% of the cost of getting the lease is for the term remaining on the purchase date (not including any period for which you may choose to renew, extend, or continue the lease). Allocate the lease cost to the original term and any option term based on the facts and circumstances. In some cases, it may be appropriate to make the allocation using a present value computation. For more information, see Regulations section 1.178-1(b)(5).

Example 1.(p10)

You paid $10,000 to get a lease with 20 years remaining on it and two options to renew for 5 years each. Of this cost, you paid $7,000 for the original lease and $3,000 for the renewal options. Because $7,000 is less than 75% of the total $10,000 cost of the lease (or $7,500), you must amortize the $10,000 over 30 years. That is the remaining life of your present lease plus the periods for renewal.

Example 2.(p10)

The facts are the same as in Example 1, except that you paid $8,000 for the original lease and $2,000 for the renewal options. You can amortize the entire $10,000 over the 20-year remaining life of the original lease. The $8,000 cost of getting the original lease was not less than 75% of the total cost of the lease (or $7,500).

Cost of a modification agreement.(p10)

For Use in Tax Year 2015
You may have to pay an additional "rent" amount over part of the lease period to change certain provisions in your lease. You must capitalize these payments and amortize them over the remaining period of the lease. You cannot deduct the payments as additional rent, even if they are described as rent in the agreement.


You are a calendar year taxpayer and sign a 20-year lease to rent part of a building starting on January 1. However, before you occupy it, you decide that you really need less space. The lessor agrees to reduce your rent from $7,000 to $6,000 per year and to release the excess space from the original lease. In exchange, you agree to pay an additional rent amount of $3,000, payable in 60 monthly installments of $50 each.
You must capitalize the $3,000 and amortize it over the 20-year term of the lease. Your amortization deduction each year will be $150 ($3,000 ÷ 20). You cannot deduct the $600 (12 × $50) that you will pay during each of the first 5 years as rent.

Commissions, bonuses, and fees.(p10)

For Use in Tax Year 2015
Commissions, bonuses, fees, and other amounts you pay to get a lease on property you use in your business are capital costs. You must amortize these costs over the term of the lease.

Loss on merchandise and fixtures.(p10)

For Use in Tax Year 2015
If you sell at a loss merchandise and fixtures that you bought solely to get a lease, the loss is a cost of getting the lease. You must capitalize the loss and amortize it over the remaining term of the lease.