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 . 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 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 Advisor 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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In 2010, Singapore was ranked as the most competitive country in the world. Doing business in Singapore, therefore, means a more fulfilling business atmosphere and better chances of higher profits. However, anyone can say the same about any other country or city in the world. So, what sets Singapore aside from the others? What makes it unique and more business friendly? Why is it that many multinationals are moving their headquarters in to this 710 square kilometers span of an island?
What Makes Doing Business in Singapore Attractive?
1. Singapore is a modern city
Singapore is placed among the most dynamic cities to live in and work in the world today. It has global connections, is cosmopolitan and is also multi-cultural, accommodating a population of about 5 million inhabitants. It is also regarded as one of the most conducive cities for the knowledge-driven industries, globally.
2. It is pro business
Within the last 4 decades, this city has transformed itself from being a small business trade center to one of the world's top financial hubs. It has international air, sea hubs, and one of the most open economies for investment and trade.
3. Consistency in governance
This city is governed by consistent guidelines on business and investment where any business is guaranteed access to an impartial and competent judicial system. There is also clarity and commitment with regards to corporate governance and anti-corruption policy enhancement.
4. Ease of set up
The excellent infrastructure, a cosmopolitan labor force that is highly skilled, attractive tax laws that allow avoidance to double taxation, and low startup costs make starting a business in Singapore very attractive and easy to set up. Entrepreneurs are known to come in to Singapore and set up big businesses within a week!
5. Knowledge based industry
The economy of Singapore is skewed towards high knowledge based industries. There is a lot of emphasis towards innovation and this is what keeps this city very competitive business-wise. The government of this city-state is also relentless in its efforts to protect intellectual property to ensure that ideas and innovations nurtured here are well protected. This further enhances competitiveness.
6. Free trade
Being an active member of the World Trade Organization, Singapore businesses enjoy the luxury of investment guarantee agreements and the many free trade agreements with most other countries in Asia and around the world. International businesses here also get to enjoy 50 of the state's comprehensive double taxation avoidance agreements.
It is these powerful factors that have made Singapore to stand as one of the strongest financial hubs in the Asian region regardless of its small size and small, almost insignificant, population. It has grown in to an Asian region power house for international banking, maritime finance, asset and wealth management, trade finance, treasury operations and insurance.
Companies and businesses that seek to establish themselves in this city-state can easily tap in to the diverse and deep capital markets, while at the same time getting access to the many local and international professional service and financial institutions that are based here.
Simply put, doing business in Singapore is affordable, easy to set up, and fun for any serious business person.
Financial Reporting & Auditing in Singapore
The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) of Singapore regulate the businesses, public accountants, and the accounting services in Singapore. ACRA, unlike other government regulators, also facilitates for the promotion of these entities.
As a national regulator, ACRA demands strict statutory compliance from these entities. For this reason, Singapore businesses are better off with the assistance of accounting services in Singapore.
Compared to other countries, it is easier, seamless and effortless to open a company in Singapore. Although it depends on individual choices, ACRA advises foreigners to take assistance from external firms offering Singapore company registration services. There are many firms in Singapore offering incorporation services along with many other corporate business services like, accounting, auditing and taxation to different national and international clients.
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Singapore's taxation year or the Year of Assessment (YA), starts on 1 January and ends on 31 December. However, in case of many Singapore companies, the end of their financial year does not coincide with stipulated date, i.e., 31 December.
These business entities still have to complete their financial reporting and tax filing, as per the due dates issued by ACRA and IRAS (Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore). They need to host an annual general meeting and table their financial statements for the review and approval of their shareholders.
Genuine and accredited accounting firms in Singapore assist its clients to maintain their books of accounts, by offering their flawless and punctual bookkeeping services. These firms ensure that each and every financial transaction is entered and accounted for. These firms also offer preparation of bank reconciliation, XBRL, and directors' reports, along with the financial analysis on weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis.
The well-known CPA firms, while preparing the financial statements of clients prepare a balance sheet, profit and loss statement and cash flow statement. The 'books of account' maintained by the client, plays a major role in preparing these statements. Most of the entries and inputs in these statements are retrieved from what is found in the client's books of accounts. These financial documents are prepared in compliance with the Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (SFRS). In addition to that, different types of transactions are treated as per the set principles and governing practices of the governing bodies.
In order to offer unmatched and high-quality accounting and auditing services to the clients, firms offering accounting services employ only experienced and certified auditors. These professionals are trained to structure their auditing reports on the data contained in the books of accounts, submitted by clients for inspection. After the auditing reports are prepared and authenticated by the prime service provider, these reports are submitted to shareholders, investors, employees, management and the government regulators for analysis and approval. A comprehensive auditing report serves as a definitive medium for the client, to take speculative decisions about the future course of their business. Therefore, preparing such report, from a well-known and qualified audit firm in Singapore is much more necessary.
After understanding the importance and necessity of well-structured audit report, business management proceeds to hire an external auditing firm for conducting internal audits of their company. The reports generated, allow them an insight into the effectiveness of processes, internal checks and methods that are in place in the organization. On the other hand, the shareholders of the company are also empowered to hire audit services in Singapore, for conducting parallel external audits for them.
The meticulously prepared financial reports are essential for gauging the financial health of a company. These reports also reveal its weaknesses and help the management in taking preventive measures against them. Remember, apart from exempted companies, every single Singapore business must file their financial statements with the ACRA.
It is the duty of the corporate business services firms based in Singapore to advise and help their clients with accurate Singapore tax filing. ACRA specifically mandates; that it is a duty of the business service-providing firm to educate and advise its clients on GST registration in Singapore, GST filing, ECI filing, Withholding tax and other taxes. Most importantly, it assists the client in the careful preparation of its corporate income tax.
The CPA's working at these firms usually takes into account the tax rebates, incentives, deductions and exemptions that client qualifies for, to incorporate those relevant details in the financial statements. The firm also assists Singapore businesses in complying with the ACRA's XBRL filing requirements, by converting their business data into the XBRL format.