IRAS Tax Incentives For Singapore-Based Companies

Singapore has been actively attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country and encouraging entrepreneurship among its population. Various government agencies have been taking initiatives in their respective fields that incentivise business owners to take action. In particular, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), the nation’s tax authority, has been instrumental in sweetening the deal for companies contemplating expansion into Singapore, as well as people intending to go into business.

Singapore already has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the world. Standing at 17%, companies can devote more of their profits toward their operations and grow themselves. This compares well with the tax rates of other countries like United Kingdom (20%), United States (40%) and Australia (30%). In fact, the Singapore corporate tax rate has been falling steadily over the past decade. From 20% in 2005, it fell to 18% in 2008, then to 17% in 2010. The low tax rate has not only successfully attracted many multinational companies to set up base in Singapore but also encouraged many people to enter the business world, safe in the knowledge that they do not pay overly high taxes.

In addition to the low corporate tax rate, IRAS, as the tax agency is commonly known, has in place a set of tax incentives that make Singapore an even more attractive place to do business in. Under the Tax Exemption Scheme For New Start-Up Companies, newly-incorporated companies enjoy full exemption on the first $100,000 normal chargeable income, and another 50% exemption on the next $200,000 normal chargeable income, for the first three years of operation. This scheme is applicable to all companies that are not involved in investment holding and not developing properties for sale, investment or both. IRAS recognises that the startup phase of any business is the most crucial stage, and that giving businesses a hand in paying their taxes will help reduce their financial burden.

Another scheme worth noting is known as the Corporate Income Tax Rebate. As the name implies, this rebate aims to help businesses defray the rising cost of doing business. The rebate level was previously set at 30%, however, in response to the challenging business environment, the government enhanced the scheme in 2016. Valid for the Years of Assessments 2016 and 2017, all companies enjoy a 50% rebate on the payable corporate tax. The rebate will be capped at $20,000 per Year of Assessment. It is hoped that by helping companies reduce their corporate tax burden, they will be able to restructure and improve their finances.

Apart from tax incentives, IRAS has other schemes that aid employers in one way or another in doing business. For example, to allow companies to cope with rising labour costs, IRAS now co-funds 40% of wage increases given to Singaporean citizen employees earning up to $4,000. Even though it is a temporary measure, the Wage Credit Scheme (WCS) nonetheless helps companies in times of need. A popular grant that is given to companies is the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) Scheme. Intended to help defray their operating costs, the government pays companies 40% of qualifying expenses. An interesting tax incentive that is targeted at bigger companies is the Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) Scheme. In a bid to encourage companies to grow via mergers and acquisitions, the government has raised the cap for qualifying M&A deals from $20M to $40M. In addition to providing a 25% tax allowance on such deals, stamp duty relief is also given.

The above is but a short list of incentives and grants given by the Singapore government to encourage the growth of businesses. The government is going all out to not only woo foreign companies but also to get its people to go into business. It is up to them to respond and make the right choice.

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Accounting and Tax Filing Outsourcing – Is It Worth The Effort?

Any business owner knows that accounting is an integral part of the business. Behind the glitzy facade of power dinners, slick presentations and press announcements, lies the set of numbers that tells the tales of a company’s performance. The accounts give the business owner an account of what have transpired in the last several months. They are an important indication of the company’s financial health. To leverage the opportunities that abound in the accounting market, companies have appeared that assist clients with their bookkeeping and tax filing needs. While the lure of passing on mundane, day-to-day tasks of tracking the numbers is tempting, companies need to consider if outsourcing this critical business function works for them.

A common pitch used by outsourcing vendors is “Outsource your work to us and free up your time to work on your core business.” While accounting and tax filing outsourcing does relieve businesses of their back-end tasks and allow them to focus on sales, things may not be simple as they look. Beyond the promise of increased efficiency, one has to decide if the process of outsourcing really gives the company savings in time, which have to be considered in relation to increased costs. If the company is new in business, the low sales volume may not justify the effort and expense in passing the job to the vendor. The costs incurred alone in the outsourcing process may be all it takes to wipe out any profit gained during the month. Added to this is the time spent in collating and compiling the figures for the vendor. If the time spent in collecting revenue and expense figures from the various departments exceed the savings in time achieved by outsourcing, then outsourcing may be counterproductive. If however, the figures are already properly recorded and readily available, and the outsource fee charged is reasonable, then outsourcing may be a good option. An outsource vendor will be able to produce, in a timely manner, a comprehensive set of figures for Management to review. This will be useful when the executives look at the profitability of the company and decide on its future direction.

Another factor that should be considered is the available skills of the staff. Good accountants are always in demand, and top companies jostle with one another to bring the brightest accountants on board. Faced with such tough competition, a new company may not have the financial resources to hire the best brains to crunch its numbers. In this case, outsourcing may be the next best option. The issue of talent is especially pertinent in today’s market. In 2013, the Singapore government revamped the accounting trade, in a bid to raise the level of professionalism in this industry. A new statutory board known as Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC) now oversees the profession, while all new accountants have to go through the rigourous Singapore Qualification Programme (Singapore QP). Hiring an accounting firm allows the customer to bring in qualified professionals to ensure its numbers are in order so that it stays in line with legal requirements. This is especially helpful when companies have to remember to file taxes after the end of their financial years. Using outsourced accounting services ensures they will never miss their deadlines.

The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), Singapore’s governing body with oversight of accounting and corporate governance matters, has a compliance rating in place, which it uses to rate all companies registered with it. A colour-coded rating system gives each company a positive or negative rating, with the corresponding code displayed against the company name during public searches on ACRA’s Bizfile portal. A positive rating is awarded when a public company holds its Annual General Meeting (AGM) every year and within 15 months of the previous AGM, or in the case of a newly-incorporated company, 18 months of incorporation. In addition, the company must file its annual returns within 30 days of the AGM. Getting a positive rating also requires that during the AGM, the accounts laid must not be more than six months old for a private company, and not more than four months old for a public company. Having a reputable accounting firm handle a company’s accounts ensures that a company achieves a positive compliance rating. This goes a long way towards giving the company credibility in the market and making it attractive to potential investors, working partners and even potential buyers, who assess companies with criteria like good corporate governance and financial self-discipline.

Engaging an accounting firm to handle one’s bookkeeping and tax filing has its benefits, but there are several factors to consider before signing on the dotted line. Handled properly, it will be beneficial, and will ensure that the company stays relevant to the market, and is sustainable for the long term. It will allow the company to build its market credibility and reach greater heights.

For more information on accounting and tax filing services, contact us now!

Hire a Qualified Accountant For Your Bookkeeping Needs

Hiring a qualified accountant

Every business owner knows the importance of bringing sales into the company and every entrepreneur realises the importance of growing the organisation. To achieve these aims, a business needs to track its figures. Figures do not only help one keep track of incoming and outgoing payments, they also allow Management to review monthly and quarterly performance to check on the health of the company. Accounting becomes a crucial and handy tool to help business with these important tasks.

Contrary to popular belief, accounting is more than punching numbers into a balance sheet or a profit-and-loss statement. While it is certainly true that basic data entry – a simple process using something even as rudimentary as a spreadsheet – suffices for a one-man setup running a blog shop, things become a lot more complicated when the business takes the form of a Private Limited company. It becomes even more so when multiple shareholders possess interests in the business. Running a Private Limited company entails keeping proper accounting records, so that revenue and expenses are properly accounted for and that annual filing is performed expeditiously and with accuracy. In an age where financial mismanagement plagues many established organisations and corporate governance is more important than ever, it is imperative that companies hire qualified accountants to take care of their financial matters.

There have been many cases in which aspiring entrepreneurs, driven by passion and enthusiasm, enter the world of business but do not ensure their back-end systems are adequately set up. In their misguided rush to incorporate their companies, they do not only fail to put operational structures in place, but also, more importantly, overlook the need to create proper accounting systems. This is especially true for small businesses providing personal services. Revenue and expenses are not recorded properly or at all, money is indiscriminately withdrawn from the corporate bank accounts to pay for the owners’ personal expenses, and there is absolutely no synchronisation between company accounts and bank statements. The entire business descends into a financial quagmire and when the time comes for annual filing, the business owners are hardly in a position to do so. By the time warning letters and threats of fines and legal proceedings arrive, it may be too late to reverse the course. It is thus very important for business owners to recognise the need for proper accounting early in the process.

Since the Singapore government created the Singapore Qualification Programme (Singapore QP) and the Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC) in 2013, the level of professionalism in the accounting landscape has been raised. The qualifying examinations are now more rigourous and entry into this profession, more difficult, than before. The SAC, as the statutory board with oversight of the accountancy profession in Singapore, leads initiatives that raise the bar in this knowledge-based economy and make Singapore a global accountancy hub. Put together, these developments point to the creation of a robust system that upholds the high standards of corporate governance in the country. Notwithstanding the initiatives from the government, the intended aims can only be achieved if individual companies play their part to make themselves useful and responsible corporate citizens. By hiring properly-qualified Chartered Accountants of Singapore (CA Singapore), business owners ensure that their accounting needs are seen to with the highest standards of accountability and accuracy. With a sound accounting system in place, their businesses will be able to grow and add value to the business ecosystem and the economy at large.

For more information on accounting and bookkeeping services, contact us now!

Banks in Cambodia: High interest rates on deposits in microcredit that can go from 4% to 10% per annum

Mekong Bank

For companies doing business in Cambodia, banks offer high interest rates on deposits tied to microcredit, which can range from 4% to 10% annual net (after deducting taxes) on short and medium-term deposits (3-6 -12 months). Often the Microcredit is confused with the small loan that is granted in Europe and in the rest of the world, with the typical consumer financing for goods and services (TV, home appliances, furniture, travel, etc.) that the consumer can buy in installments.

Microcredit, we intend to explain in this page, however, is granted only in third world countries, and consists of very small loans (from $100 up to a maximum of $2,000 USD).

Microcredit allows a huge range of people in third world countries to have access to a loan to start a micro economic activity (start a taxi service on scooter, preparing pancakes to the market with a cart, take a rotary tiller or water pump for their land etc.).

Lending money to the poor is less risky than lending it to the rich. This may sound strange but it has been observed through studies that have lasted years, that individuals living in extreme poverty in the countries of the third world, even if it has no real guarantees the “poor” will become a solvent debtor, can be trusted if put in a position to repay the debt.

The interest rates that are paid off with microcredit are far more than a normal loan disbursed. The loan is not returned month by month, but rather ‘week to week. It may be a few dollars, but so many drops that create a real rain of money has generated and is still generating wealth not only for those who receive the loan, but especially for those that deliver the loan. In short, to invest today in banks and institutions that provide microcredit can be very beneficial and safe. You may have an interest rate that until a few months ago could reach up to 10% annually (sometimes more).

For more information on incorporating a company in Cambodia, contact us now!