Accounting is one of the most crucial aspects of almost any business. If you intend to outsource your company’s accounting functions to a third-party, it is absolutely important to carefully assess every facet of such company’s activities before reaching a conclusion. The main purpose of any business is to make profits and not have any losses. Therefore, it is important to ensure a cost effective accounting system is in place. Handling accounts, transactions and other financial details is not an easy task but with the services of outsourced small business accounting services these can be achievable. Hence, looking for outsourced accounting services would be positive to the business.
The extent of your business financial transparency and the level of expertise of the people responsible for such transparency will influence the growth and expansion of your business as well as its survival. This is why accounting and bookkeeping are some of the most crucial aspects of any business and should only be taken care of by licensed professionals with wealth of experience
Why Use Out Accounting Or Accountancy For Business?
Strategic location and attractive tax benefits make Singapore the most preferred location for the overseas companies to set up their business. Various options are - opening up a Branch Office, a Representative Office or a Subsidiary. The country also has liberal immigration policies. If the company wants to set up their regional head quarters in Singapore they are also provided with Financial Assistance.
Branch Office - Registration of the branch office is done by ACRA and it is treated as an extension of the foreign company. It is the least popular option with foreign companies because
- Head office accounts have to be submitted for taxation purposes. Many companies may not be comfortable doing this.
- Head office bears all the liabilities of the actions of branch office
- Branch office cannot claim local tax benefits
The name of the Branch Office and the foreign office must be same and should be approved by ACRA before registration. Branch office has to appoint two agents that are resident in Singapore. The Branch office can repatriate all its earnings and capital. Only that part of earnings derived from local operations are taxed at local tax rates.
Subsidiary Company - This is the most preferred option for setting up business by the foreign companies because:
- Its liabilities are not transferred to parent company. It is considered a separate company.
- It enjoys the local taxation benefits.
- It can have a local name which is different from the parent company.
One or more directors need to be appointed and at least one director has to be a local resident.
Representative Office - It is used for having a presence in the country while not conducting any business activity. It does not have any legal status and cannot enter into any contracts.
- It can undertake promotional activities for the parent company
- It can negotiate but cannot conclude on deals
- Parent company bears liability for activities of the office.
- It must be staffed by at least one representative from the head office
International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore) is the registration authority for Representative Offices for manufacturing, business services, commerce and other sectors. Banking, finance, insurance needs to be registered with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
Corporate Taxation - Singapore Vs Hong Kong
A key determinant for setting up a business in a given jurisdiction is the tax regime in force. In this regard, both Hong Kong and Singapore boast of being one of the lowest tax jurisdictions in the world. Detailed below is a comparative overview of the tax system in Singapore Vs HK.
- Taxes are levied on a territorial principle i.e. companies and individuals are taxed on Singapore sourced income.
- Foreign sourced income (branch profits, dividends, service income, etc.) will be taxed when it is remitted or deemed remitted into Singapore unless the income was already subjected to taxes in a jurisdiction with headline tax rates of at least 15%.
- Taxes are levied on the territorial principle i.e. only on income "derived from or arising in" HK and not on income sourced outside the SAR.
- No tax is levied on profits arising abroad, even if they are remitted to Hong Kong.
Corporate Tax Rate
- Singapore: Current corporate income tax rate - 18%. However, corporate income tax rate effective 2010 - 17%. Note: The effective tax rate is much lower - below 9% for profits up to SGD 300,000 and capped at 18% for profits above SGD 300,000
- Hong Kong: Current corporate income tax rate - 16.5%
Goods and Services Tax (known as VAT/Sales tax in other countries)
- Singapore: 7%
- Hong Kong: Nil
Capital gains tax
- Singapore and Hong Kong: Nil (Capital loss expenses are correspondingly not allowed as deductions)
Group relief for losses
- Singapore: Allowed
- HK: Not allowed
- Singapore: Interest, royalties, rentals from movable properties, management and technical fees, and director's fees paid to non-residents (individuals or companies) are subject to withholding tax. There is no withholding tax levied on dividends.
- Hong Kong: Royalties, rentals from movable properties, and fees paid to non-resident entertainers or sportsmen for their performances in Hong Kong are subject to withholding tax. There are no withholding taxes levied on dividends and interest.
Double Tax Agreements
- Singapore: More than 50 bilateral comprehensive tax treaties
- HK: DTA network of 37 treaties
- Singapore: 1 January - 31 December
- HK: 1 April - 31 March
Filing tax returns
- Tax returns along with audited accounts must be filed with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore by 31 October each year.
- Note: Dormant companies (i.e no accounting transactions for the financial year) and exempt private companies (not more than 20 shareholders and shares are not held by another company) with an annual turnover of less than SGD 5 million are exempt from audit requirements and can file unaudited accounts.
- Tax returns along with audited accounts must be filed with the Inland Revenue Department by 31 April each year. The auditor must be a member of the HK Institute of Certified Public Accountants and must hold a practicing certificate.
- Note: Dormant companies (i.e no accounting transactions for the financial year) and small corporations (i.e total gross income does not exceed HKD 500,000) are exempt from audit requirements and can file unaudited accounts.