Should I Buy or Lease My Next Vehicle?

As a business owner, I have debated this question many times over the years. I have both leased and purchased, and I like to get a new vehicle every 3 or 4 years… whether I really need it or not.

My advice about making this decision is: speak with your accountant.

There are many ways to handle both the usage and the HST (Nova Scotia) you can claim. Factors, such as whether you are a Sole Proprietor or Corporation, will impact this decision.

  • Purchased vehicles become assets and part of your net worth.
  • Lease payments become expenses which can be written off using the CRA rules.

Lease payments are generally lower than your payments if you buy, which makes them attractive. Buying might have higher payments but you are making payments on an asset that eventually will be paid off, meaning you will be debt free until you require a new vehicle.

Ideally, you don’t want to take out a loan to pay off a vehicle that is not expected to last at least as long as the term of the loan. Dealerships may offer longer terms for repayment to make you think the cost is reasonable (smaller payments), however after 5-6 years, the warranty is gone and problems start. A vehicle will depreciate if it’s an asset, and generally by 30% in the first year.

Leases have mileage limitations so, based on your future use of the vehicle, this must be considered. There are also penalties if you wish to get out of a lease sooner than its term. Sometimes the lease rates are higher than purchase rates.

Here is a calculator from CRA which will help you compare the costs.