Which is an ideal jurisdiction for company incorporation in Asia? Singapore and Hong Kong have been dominant players in the Asian region, vying for the position of “the best place to do business.” But the crucial questions are, which of these jurisdictions have an edge over the other? Is incorporating a business easier in Singapore or in Hong Kong?
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 in Dover . 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.
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A key determinant for setting up a business in Dover is the tax regime in force. In this regard Singapore boast of being one of the lowest tax jurisdictions in the world. Detailed below is an overview of the tax system and Audit Firm in Singapore.
Tax jurisdiction Singapore: Taxes are levied on a territorial principle i.e. companies and individuals are taxed on Singapore sourced income. In addition, the Foreign sourced income (branch profits, dividends, service income, etc.) are 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%.
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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.
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If you aspire to work in the corporate finance department of an organization, you are part of a team that is involved with collating data that form the solid basis for making capital investment decisions of a company. Some of its primary tasks include supplying figures that will support or oppose investment proposals. A corporate finance job entails management of company assets and liabilities, financial forecasting, inventory control, budgeting, and auditing.
The two key functions of corporate finance include:
- Accounting - this involves recording of the day-to-day transactions of the company. Its tasks include payroll, tracking of company expenses, computation of revenue and balancing of the company's accounting books.
- Finance - this is concerned with the management of the company's assets, liabilities, and investments. It is also responsible for the monitoring of the company's financial performance and analyzing its revenue and expenses in order to ensure that the company's capital is used in the most effective way possible.
Finance and accounting may assume different roles in an establishment, but they are geared towards a common goal which is to maximize the company's potentials for financial advancement.
Primary Requirements of Finance and Accounting Jobs:
Knack for Numbers
Finance and accounting professionals breathe and eat numbers everyday in their professional lives. You should be good in mathematics in order to become an effective member of the finance department.
Strong Analytical Skills
Jobs in finance involve forecasting, analysis, and problem solving. They require you to understand patterns of the company's expenses, debts, receivables, cash flow and profits. These are all represented by numbers. You need to put them together to produce a sound basis of the company's business decisions.
Attention to Details
This is highly necessary because it can help to optimize the company's performance in the management of its finances. The company relies on the numbers you provide as its basis for formulating business plans and decisions.
You should be able to spot errors, unusual costs, and unnecessary expenses. These are important things you can bring to the attention of top management for appropriate action.
A degree in finance or accounting is the basic requirement for a career in corporate finance. If you want to stand out in the profession, you may proceed to advanced studies.
A masters' degree in business administration or a certification in CPA or CFA will help to give you the best in a rewarding career. These will make you more attractive to companies and increase your chances for employment or promotion.
These are some of the essentials for getting a career in corporate finance. Have them and you will discover a world of business and corporate opportunities.