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 HarbourFront . 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 HarbourFront 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 Accounting 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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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.
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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.