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What is the difference between cash rent and straight-line rent?

A difference would arise if the cash rent is not exactly the same for each month across the lease term. Differences could result from lease incentives/inducements, or there could be a slight increase in rent expense each year to account for inflation. However, to calculate straight-line rent expense, you simply add up total cash rent paid and divide by the lease term in months.

For example, if rent is $50,000 total for a 5 year lease and the first year is free, then you would pay the $50,000 over 4 years at $12,500 per month. However, under U.S. GAAP, you would spread that $50,000 evenly over 5 years, which would make rent expense $10,000 per month.

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