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Frequently Asked Questions About Auditing and Profit Tax Return

By FastLane Team, April 25, 2019 (5 mins)

After reading our series of articles in relation to auditing and profit tax return in Hong Kong, we believe that you now have a basic understanding of the related matters. Today, let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions we receive at FastLane.

Auditing

What exactly happens during an audit?

  1. The company prepares the financial accounts along with the supporting documents (Link to the auditing preparation checklist PDF) for the CPA’s further handling.
  2. The auditor reviews and understands the activities of the company as well as the nature of the company, both of which could affect the audit.
  3. The auditor identifies and evaluates significant transactions in the financial statement.
  4. The auditor tests the financial statements and spots uncertainties and errors that could influence the financial accounts.
  5. The auditor reviews the financial statements and its supporting documents to ensure that the report on transactions is accurate.
  6. The auditor made an opinion report to reflect the accuracy and fair representation of the company’s financial statements.
  7. The auditor makes a report from the audit and opinion on the financial statements.
  8. The director of the company signs the audit report and the supporting documents.
  9. The auditor receives the signed audit report and creates the tax computation form and sends it back to the IRD along with the Profits Tax Return.

The content and depth of the audit documents depend on the identified risks of material misstatement, the judgement required in performing the audit and the significance of the audit evidence obtained by the auditor.

How can I apply for reporting exemption?

According to the new Company Ordinance, private and guarantee companies are qualified to prepare simplified accounts and directors’ reports.

To qualify for the reporting exemption, you need to meet the requirements below:

For a small private company,  it is required to meet two of the following conditions:

  • Your total revenue does not exceed $100 million in a financial year;
  • Your total assets does not exceed $100 million in a fiscal year;
  • The number of employees does not exceed 100 in a financial year.

For a small guarantee company, it is required that:

  • Your total revenue does not exceed $25 million in a fiscal year.

Please note that for the subsidiaries of a listed company, you may qualify for reporting exemption, in the case that it is not a company specified in section 359(4) (for example, an insurance company or a bank) if you meet the requirements above.

How does reporting exemption help simplify the reports for qualified companies?

For companies that qualify for reporting exemption, the financial statements can be prepared following the Small and Medium-Sized Entity Financial Reporting Standard and Financial Reporting Framework.

Moreover, for the qualified companies, it is not required to prepare the following when creating the accounts and directors’ reports:

  • Disclosure of the auditor’s remuneration in financial statements;
  • A “true and fair view” for financial statements;
  • Disclosure in the material interests of directors in transactions or contracts within the notes to financial statements;
  • The inclusion of the following information in the director’s report:
    • Business review
    • Donations
    • Director’s reason for resignation
    • Material interests of directors in transactions, arrangements and contracts

Please note that for reporting exemption-qualified companies,  their financial statements are still required to be audited.

Profit Tax Return

What is the profit tax return deadline for 2019?

The due date for profit tax return depends on how you set your financial year-end date. For limited companies or unincorporated businesses in Hong Kong, you can select any date as your fiscal year-end date. Most companies in Hong Kong set their financial year-end date on December 31st or March 31st.

It is worth mentioning that for new companies in Hong Kong, the first profit tax return will be sent to you by the IRD (Inland Revenue Department) 18 months after the date of incorporation, and you will have a 3-month period to return the form. However, starting from the second profit tax return, you will only have 1 month to submit the profit tax return.

If you chose December 31st as your financial year-end date, it is required to file your profit tax return by mid-August. For companies that set the fiscal year-end date as March 31st, the deadline tax return submission would be mid-November. If you choose a different date as your accounting year-end date, IRD will send you the profit tax return on the first working day of April, and you need to file the tax return by end of April.

What happens if I missed the deadline for profit tax return submission?

Late submission in profit tax return may subject to a penalty payment of HK$10,000 and triple amount of the tax. You are also subject to prosecution. To avoid delay in profit tax return filing, it is recommended to have all the documents prepared (Link to the auditing preparation checklist PDF)  for your CPA, as the document preparation process is normally the longest process to an audit.

Can I extend the deadline for profit tax return submission?

Yes, a further 2-weeks extension will be granted to Small Corporations and Small Partnership Businesses on application, if they file the profit tax returns through online platform.

Can I change year-end date for my company?

Yes, you can change the year-end date. However, please note that the financial year cannot be longer than 18 months. It is not allowed to extend the financial year-end date again within a five-year period from your previous year-end extension.  

Do I still need to audit my accounts and submit profit tax return if I am not making profits or the business has not yet started?

In the case that your business has yet to commence, you are allowed to report that it has “not yet commenced” to IRD (Inland Revenue Department). The company director or company secretary must provide a declaration of a not yet commenced business. You can file a “NIL” profit tax return to the IRD by absence of an audit report.

However, please note that you are still required to prepare an audited financial statement even when the business has not yet started. Once your business commences, you are required to submit your first and subsequent years’ financial statements.

 

As an offshore company, do I need to submit a profit tax return?

In the case that all income of the offshore company is generated outside Hong Kong, you can make an offshore claim and apply for profit tax exemption (Link to Profit Tax Exemption Article). Please note that any profit derived from Hong Kong from trades, profession or business is liable to profit tax.

 

The offshore company needs to submit the profit tax return and financial statement, together with an offshore claim. The company needs to provide the IRD with passports of all company directors, company invoices, contracts and other relevant documents. The Inland Revenue Department will examine and confirm that the company does not have any income derived from Hong Kong and thus is not required to pay tax in Hong Kong. The offshore claim status will stay effective in the course of 5 years.

 

Need help in performing an audit or handling your profit tax return?

Fastlane is a CPA firm that can help you handle all matters in accounting so you can focus on other areas of your business. 

 



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