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 Serangoon North . 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 Serangoon North 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 Tax Preparation Services 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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What is an accountant? According to the Australian Accountants Directory they are, "a practitioner of accountancy or accounting, which is the measurement, disclosure or provision of assurance about financial information that helps managers, investors, tax authorities and others make decisions about allocating resources"("About Accountants"). As you may already know, different areas of the world have different professional bodies of accounting.
For example, not every country uses the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). As the name suggests, that's only used in the United States. Australia however, has three legally recognized local professional accounting bodies; the institute of public accountants (IPA), CPA Australia (CPA), and the institute of chartered accountants of Australia (ICAA).
The IPA has been around since 1923 and continues to grow in the organization today. After 90 years it currently sits more than 26,000 members and students across 64 countries and is ranked in the top professional accounting bodies in the world ("Institute of Public Accountants"). They acquired a full membership of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) in 2005 as well as the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants (CAPA) in 2011. They are really working towards building relationships and exchanging knowledge overseas. They are innovative in everything that they do as they already are recognized as one of the top 20 in BRW's most innovative companies in Australia list for 2012. The IPA has three levels of membership, Associate (AIPA), Member (MIPA), and Fellow (FIPA). An Associate membership requires one to have an Australian Advanced Diploma of Accounting or a Bachelor's degree in Accounting that can be Australian or equivalent in nature. MIPA membership requires Australian Advanced Diploma of Accounting, two years of pre-IPA program full-time work experience in accounting or related fields and a mentored experience program. A FIPA membership requires 7 years' MIPA status or equivalent and 10 years' experience in accounting the last five years have to be at a senior level ("Institute of Public Accountants").
According to CPA Australia, they are one of the world's largest accounting bodies with a global membership of more than 150,000 members working in 120 countries around the world, and with more than 25,000 members working in senior leadership positions ("About Us"). They provide education, training, technical support and advocacy. They were an early entrant in the Asian Market, where their involvement began in the early 1950s and aimed at developing and strengthening the accounting profession in the region. As of today almost one-quarter of CPA Australia's members reside outside of Australia, with over 35,000 in Asia. They currently have nineteen staffed offices across Australia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, New Zealand and the UK. To become a member of this program candidates most hold a postgraduate award that is recognized by CPA Australia, and demonstrate competence in the required knowledge areas and, within a six year period, successfully complete the CPA Program ("About Us"). They must also have three years of professional experience in finance, or accounting for business. To offer public accounting services, CPAs must also complete CPA Australia's Public Practice program, which involves distance learning and a residential component, and must hold a Public Practice Certificate in accordance with the CPA Australia's by laws.
The ICAA is the professional body representing Chartered Accountants in Australia. They currently have over 50,000 members and 12,000 students("News and Updates"). In order to become a member of the institute, one has to complete the Chartered Accountants Program which includes study of Graduate diploma in Chartered Accounting (GradDipCA) and three years of practical experience. Entry is available to anyone who holds an accounting degree; however, those holding non-accounting degrees can also be permitted entry after additional requirements are met. If one does become a Chartered Accountant they must complete a total of 120 hours of Continuing Professional Education every three years. The ICAA is a founding member of the Global Accounting Alliance (GAA). Members of this alliance are part of the international accounting coalition of the world's premier accounting bodies. Chartered Accountants audit 100 percent of the top ASX-listed companies in Australia. They are recognized by the international accounting bodies of the leading financial centers of the world. As of November 2013, the ICAA merged with the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants and are now known as "Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand"("News and Updates").
Compared to the professional bodies in America the ones in Australia aren't too different judging from the research. They each go off of the same principals in a sense but there are very few minimal things that are different.
"About Accountants." Australian Accountants Directory / Australian Accountants Directory / Accountants. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.
"About Us." CPA Australia -. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2015.
"Institute of Public Accountants." Institute of Public Accountants. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.
"News and Updates." Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2015.
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For some business owners, a third party accountant just seems like a waste of time and money. Sure, they can minimize the amount of time you spend calculating taxes and duties, but when you're high on time and short on financial resources, the overall cost of an accountant can seem to be too high to have any purpose. While this is sometimes true, for the vast majority of businesses accounting services have the exact opposite effect; you actually end up saving money by using them.
There are several different types of business currencies out there. Of course, money is known as the universal business currency, and it is for trading and purchasing. However, there's another currency that's worth just as much to millions of businesses: time. Without time, there's no way to achieve your annual sales goals, grow your business and meet your business targets. While the global recession has made more businesses starved for money, even during points of economic prosperity businesses are troubled by limited time.
This is where accounting services can prove highly useful. Hiring in-house accountancy staff is incredibly expensive, especially when you take the health costs, legal hiring expenses and time costs into account. While having extra employees adds manpower and time to your business, the cost associated with it is often too high. Accountancy services can save you both time and money in this regard. By minimizing the accountancy workload for your team, you can focus on more direct and important goals. Of course, by using an outside contractor rather than an internal employee, the amount of paperwork surrounding your accountancy dealings decreases tremendously.
Of course, the benefits of using accounting services for your business aren't just limited to time. Many people associate outside contractors and services with extra costs, but for accountants this can be a misguided and inaccurate way to judge them. Accountancy services can save you money, and the cost of using an accountancy firm is easily made up in the amount that you'll save on taxes, duties and government rates. Think about it this way - when you're taking care of your own taxes, you're in a financial world that's completely foreign. As such, some things get passed over and some boxes are left un-ticked. However, by using accounting services to manage and calculate your taxes, you're putting the job in the hands of an experienced specialist, who knows exactly what they need to do to save you money.
It's the old cost vs. time dilemma, and a lot of business owners fall for the wrong metric. Time saved is money saved, regardless of whether it comes with a direct cost or not. If your business has the potential to earn $1000 per hour with your full attention, spending your time on accountancy tasks that can be outsourced for just a fraction of that is a waste of both time and money. Opportunity cost factors for a lot in business, and by focusing on what is important you'll end up saving a bucket load of income.
So next time you're about to embark on a complicated tax mission using your internet employees, or even your own time, think about the opportunity cost involved. Juggling taxes and payments with a major project could end up costing you the quality of both, which means extra costs on both sides. Whenever possible, stick to the direct services of your business, and let your accounting services provider take care of the rest. You'll save money, save time, and grow your business without having taxes, payments and accounts bother you.