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Abstract

This Note explores the use, mechanics, and financial and tax ramifications of sale-leaseback transactions, focusing on their growing use by tax-exempt entities and the concerns this use has created in Congress. This analysis demonstrates that these transactions do not pose the problems feared by Congress, the Treasury Department (IRS), and the current Administration. Furthermore, it will show that under most circumstances sale-leaseback transactions by tax-exempt entities, although causing a revenue loss, are a useful device for providing certain tax-exempt entities with the financial means to maintain services in the face of rising costs and the withdrawal of federal funding. Finally, this Note proposes the legitimization of the use of sale-leasebacks by tax-exempt entities and adoption of guidelines through which the expanding use of this financial device could be controlled. The fundamental issues of ownership, control, and accountability will become manageable and straightforward through the certainty of financial and tax consequences resulting from the use of official guidelines.

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