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Cornell University, Cornell Law School




Pondering the human tendency to pay dearly for short-lived adornments, Shakespeare asks a question of interest to lawyers as well as poets: "Why so large cost, having so short a lease.. .? The lawyer's analysis of the issue might begin with a scenario set in an imaginary world in which the tax effects of business transactions are determined by their legal form rather than their economic substance. In such a world, each of two companies decides to build a new factory. One acquires the land outright, paying in several installments. The other enters into a shortterm lease at a very high rent with the option to purchase the land for a penny at the end of the lease term. Not surprisingly, the second company eventually exercises this option.



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