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 Chong Boon . 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 Chong Boon 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 Simply Accounting 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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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.
Here are core tips for choosing a professional accounting vendor for your business:
State your expectations and find out if they can deliver them
Your search for a professional accounting vendor should start with a clear definition of what you want from the vendor and the value you expect the relationship to bring to your business. Find out if the vendor you intend to partner with can deliver what you expect in terms of value and ROI. Do not conceal your expectations.
Discuss your expectations with the vendors. Tell them exactly what you want, how you want it and how you intend to measure their performance. This approach will prevent misunderstanding in the future if they fail to meet your expectations. Also, ensure all agreements are done in writing and signed accordingly.
Growth and size of the accounting vendor
Experience is crucial in accounting. Before outsourcing your accounting functions to any company, do some research on the level of growth of the company in recent years. If the company has shown a positive level of business growth, it could be an indication of the quality of services they render clients.
Find out about the internal structure of the company and the level of experience of the experts they can boast of. Outsourcing to a startup may not be such a good idea, although some may deliver beyond expectations. But outsourcing to an established professional accounting firm will ensure your business accounting is in safe hands and you wouldn't have to bother about ROI.
Track Record of the accounting vendor
The track record of any accounting firm is a reflection of the quality of service it renders clients. Find out if the prospective accounting vendor has a track record of service commitment or if it has a recognized reputation within its own industry. Also, find out if the vendor tracks customer satisfaction level, which is a strong indication of the extent they are willing to go to ensure customer satisfaction.
Feedbacks from previous customers
Listen to what previous customers are saying about the prospective accounting vendors you are considering. One easy way to start is to go online and search for reviews. Find out if an unsatisfied client has written a piece about the vendor or if a satisfied client has recommended them. But do not stop there, ask the accounting vendors to give you a list if their previous customers. They will have no problem with providing you such list, if the quality of the services they are rendering is top-notch.
Data security is as important as your business accounting or even more. Before outsourcing to any accounting company, find out about their security and confidentiality processes. Accounting vendors must be able to show that they use modern and secure information technology systems.
Assess the level of information security management of the vendor, if you observe loopholes or have doubts about the authenticity of their data security, do not hesitate to consider other options. Also, find out if the company has invested in modern data security technology such as cloud to ensure client data are secured.
Relationship management is crucial for the success of the accounting functions you outsource. You need to understand how the accounting vendor you intend to outsource to manage relationship with clients. Consider their communication skills.
Do they often create a communication gap that leaves you searching for more information? Or will language and business culture be a barrier between you and them? You need to consider how well your company can relate with them, share ideas, discuss solutions, establish and maintain a professional relationship.
Avoid the deceit of lowest bidders
There is often the temptation to outsource your business accounting functions to the lowest bidder. Professionals in the accounting business are relatively expensive in service delivery. If you intend to outsource to a professional accounting firm, be ready to pay a competitive price. Just like in any other industry, there are charlatans in the accounting business too. One of the easiest methods these charlatans use to get victims is offering prices that falls below the normal competitive market price.
While the lowest bidder may not be the best option, the most expensive accounting firm may fail to deliver on its promises. As such, do your best to strike a balance between a successful track record, expertise and competitive pricing when selecting an accounting vendor.
Assess financial stability
It is crucial to ensure that the accounting vendor you intend to outsource to be financial secured. You need to find out if the vendor is financially strong enough to manage its business. If the vendor is financially weak or has financial problems such as inability to pay employees, such weakness will affect their quality of service delivery and ultimately affect your business.
How often will you have the opportunity to discuss your concerns with the accounting company you outsourced to? You need to consider the availability of the accounting vendor before signing any contract. In most cases, many small businesses often demand for face-to-face meetings every week or every two weeks, while some large business may demand for monthly meetings or vice versa. Depending on the nature of your business, you may have to discuss with the department or employees responsible for communicating with vendors in order to come up with a reasonable timeframe that will favor your business. It is crucial for you to outsource for the best accounting services for your business in order to ensure ROI.