Accounting and Finance

Bookkeeping Best Practices: A Guide for Singapore Businesses

Bookkeeping for Singapore businesses

Bookkeeping for Singapore businesses can be termed as the systematic recording of financial transactions. It is mandatory for businesses in Singapore to classify their business transactions in accordance with SFRS (Singapore Financial Reporting Standard), or you must hire a bookkeeping service to operate your Singapore business. Implementing proper and appropriate bookkeeping for Singapore businesses will definitely let you understand the actual and accurate positioning for your financial business transactions. Regular bookkeeping of financial transactions will be more likely to add a basic understanding and effective financial management and ensure business success in Singapore. However, bookkeeping is a time-consuming, resource-intensive process. Therefore, businesses in Singapore are advised to outsource bookkeeping for effective and outstanding results.

Table of Contents

Singapore Market perspective

Singapore, it is evident that among other developed and developing economies, the FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) volume is higher in Singapore. With 10% of total FDI inflows, Singapore remains the perfect economy for new businesses, including start-ups and small to medium enterprises (SMEs). However, potential new businesses in Singapore are facing a lack of funding or investors, and the Singaporean government offer the perfect economy to overcome these concerns.

In recent years, Singapore earned the reputation for being and providing a best business environment for start-ups. Singapore possesses a free-market economy and competitive landscape which enable the small businesses to thrive high in country. Although, several businesses also succeed here. If you are confident, you can get your company formation in Singapore and easily explore the market of Singapore. However, Singapore is always an ideal location for incorporating a new company.

How the accounting and bookkeeping in Singapore are different?

Accounting and bookkeeping in Singapore are two different aspects, but an interconnected activities which contributes towards the financial management of a company.

Bookkeeping includes the systematic recording and organizing of financial transactions and ensuring accurate and proper financial reporting. Bookkeeping keeps the focus on various tasks, including recording sales, purchases, and expenses and maintaining the ledgers. Accounting in Singapore includes a much wider scope of analysis and interpretation of financial data to deliver meaningful insights, which help in making informed business decisions. Accounting in Singapore involves the preparation of financial statements, conducting financial analysis and providing strategic guidance.

What is the Importance of accurate bookkeeping in Singapore?

Whether you are running a small business, medium, or large enterprise, proper accounting and bookkeeping services are important for you to stay at the forefront and build a reputable brand value in the market. Although bookkeeping is one of the most tedious and boring tasks for businesses. However, somehow, it is an integral part of any business operating in the Singaporean market. Here’s a list of genuine reasons why you need to hire bookkeeping services in Singapore.

Ensure better financial stability.

Proper financial reporting of business income and expenses is very important to make an informed business decision. Possibly, the company may look to hire more and more employees or invest more money in marketing just to make more clients and generate more revenue. But do they have a sufficient amount of money to perform these activities? Here’s the role of accounting and bookkeeping come into existence to give answers to these questions. This also showcases whether some sort of cost-cutting made by the company has impacted the client commitment or what services need to be expanded with many more. As you learn how to check the data reports, you will learn that accounting and bookkeeping hold a lot of information.

Eliminate the risk of penalties and taxation errors.

It is true that not a single company would like to face the legal consequences or additional unnecessary fees for making corrections at the time of filing the corporate tax. Although corporate taxes vary and depend on expenses, income, and other factors, In case of wrong reporting of company finances, it is evident that the company will suffer strict imposing of taxation penalties from the concerned taxing authority. Therefore, it is clear that accuracy in bookkeeping can help to stay away from such situations, and the business owners can easily stay assured that the accounting and bookkeeping have no problems and can easily focus on their core business activities.

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Proper Cash Flow Management

Business must keep their receipts and bills as it ensure an easy overlook of expenditures or incomes, and the loosing track record of cash flow. Accounting and bookkeeping proper updates helps you to check the back date financial reports and to know what was exactly happened on such day, week or month.

Stakeholders’ and Clients’ Satisfaction

It is obvious that customers or clients dislike doing business with companies that are at a loss, and even investors want to stay away. No one would invest in any company that has lost its value over the last month. Here, proper accounting and bookkeeping are important because they manage and maintain the company’s budget and enhance potential stakeholder and customer satisfaction.

Save time and money

Most businesses prefer to do everything by themselves, but later times come when it is the need of hours to delegate the task to someone who is professional. This is the same also with accounting and bookkeeping. A bookkeeper will hardly take some hours to wind up the entire task of accounting and bookkeeping. A bookkeeper sums up every aspect of your business and takes care of your finances, which is very important for businesses. It is true that Just a small error may lead to enormous consequences for your company and its employees. One person cannot do the entire task. Thus, it is suggested that you rely on professional accounting and bookkeeping experts who can handle your newly registered start-up business affairs.

How much does the Accounting and bookkeeping cost for Start-ups and SMEs in Singapore?

The prices for accounting and bookkeeping in Singapore vary depending upon the nature of the task, workload, and difficulty of the tasks, among many other aspects. There is no such straight answer regarding the accounting and bookkeeping price in Singapore, but the firms are charging fees somewhere from SGD$10 to SGD$20 per employee. You can plan to hire an annual accounting and bookkeeping service in Singapore, which may cost around SGD$400. Moreover, the fees may also depend upon the working style of accountants, whether on a monthly, weekly or off-hours basis. An hour of accounting and bookkeeping service is typically pricier, which means that it is in your hands whether you go for hours, on a week, or on a monthly basis. An average accounting firm in Singapore may cost SGD$ 100 per month.   

What are the bookkeeping requirements for Singapore Company?

Does a Singapore company require bookkeeping requirements, or what are the legal or financial documents that a Singapore company must store and why?

There are two main reasons behind keeping the proper records of business transactions and accounts. Firstly, the companies must be able to explain their business transactions and financial position. The second reason for the Singapore companies to keep accounting and bookkeeping as it enables to develop and create an accurate financial statement.

Here, the Singapore companies must keep the following documents-

All business transactions

Singapore Company must keep their all business transactions such as bills, invoices, receipts, bank statements, vouchers, and other existing important documents either received from client or issued to them.

Accounting ledgers, schedules, and journals

These documents are very helpful during the documenting a company’s liabilities, assets, income, expenses, profits and loses.

Financial transactions in Written form

Singaporean law mandates that companies incorporated in Singapore have a proper track record of business and financial transactions as evidence. This is because government institutions may ask to showcase such business transactions at any time.

Record Keeping Checklist

Record TypeItem NoDocuments Required
Important: For Tax Purposes
Serially numbered receipts or invoices issued1
Tax invoice/simplified tax invoice issued2
Rental Agreement signed by both parties3
Books for recording goods for private usage4
Credit notes for returned goods5
Documents relating to exports6
Evidence of payment received (e.g., bank statement)7
Invoice/receipt received8
Payment made to individuals/companies for services9
Payment vouchers for staff remuneration10
Employer’s CPF contributions11
Payment evidence (e.g., bank statement)12
Tax invoices received13
Documents relating to imports14
Payment evidence (e.g., bank statement)15
Business goods used for non-business purposes16
Disposals of business goods17
Removal of goods from customs-licensed warehouse18
—————————————————-—————————————————–
Important: General Accounting RecordsItem No.Document Required
Stock List1
Sales Record Book/Sales Listing2
Purchase Record Book/Purchase Listing3
General Ledgers4
Balance Sheet, Profit and Loss Statement5
GST account summary of input and output tax6
Bank statements7✔ (Recommended)
—————————————————-—————————————————–
Recommended RecordsItem No.Document Required
Detailed schedules of Public Transport expenses1
Detailed schedules of Traveling expenses2
Detailed schedules of Entertainment expenses3
Fixed asset Schedules4
Records of Capital Allowances5
—————————————————-—————————————————-

Note:

  • “Required records” are mandatory for tax purposes.
  • “Recommended records” are advised for good practice and should be available upon request by tax authorities.

How long do you need to retain the accounting documents in Singapore?

As per Singaporean government and Singapore company formation laws, the incorporated companies are required to keep their financial records safely which includes day to day  business transactions, accounting records, source documents and bank statements for a period  of at least 5 years from the relevant year of assessment. Taking an example, the record of company during 2024 must be kept until 31st December 2029.

The Singaporean government made specific guidelines with instructions on how to store financial records. In the case of physical records, they must be kept legible and in a well-organized manner. The related photocopies of such financial records must be on thermal paper so that they cannot fade over a period of time. If the documents are kept electronically, then the company must keep such documents in the most secure manner and ensure their privacy and reliability. Singapore companies must ensure the proper use of tools when destroying any paperwork or receipts. However, several countries in the world have their own strict data protection laws, which help corporations get rid of any sensible information. Companies in Singapore should not throw financial documents or paperwork here and there in the dustbin. It is recommended that innovative tools be invested in.

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What documents are needed by Singaporean companies to file tax returns in Singapore?

As per the Singaporean government, the companies are imposed a taxation rate of 17% depending upon their chargeable income. This showcases taxable income for a year of assessment. It is mandatory for Singaporean companies to file 2 corporate income taxes every year-

Estimated Chargeable Income (ECI)-

The said document showcase the estimated taxable income of any company for a year of assessment. The business owner in Singapore are required to file ECI within a period of 3 month from the end of the concerned financial year. However, this form is not applicable for those companies who have qualified the ECI filing waiver.

Form C-S/ Form C-S (lite)/ Form C.

The said document mandates that the companies incorporated in Singapore about their actual taxable income for a year of assessment. It is mandatory to file this form on 30th November at every financial year.

Want the best Accounting and bookkeeping practices in Singapore?

Here are some tips you need to keep in mind that will enable you to access the best accounting and bookkeeping service in Singapore.

  • It is mandatory for businesses to hire an experienced accountant or get engaged with the accounting agencies who can easily make sure to give appropriate advices and ensure compliance with the Singaporean company formation laws. Utilizing the services of accounting and bookkeeping from experts, the companies in Singapore, are more likely to get reduced their stress, and could easily focus on their business core activities.
  • You can also select the rightful accounting and bookkeeping software that works in accordance with the ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority) standards and easily meets your company’s specific needs and requirements.
  • Singaporean companies are advised to keep their business financial records updated in a timely manner. This is because the maintained and updated business financial records enable ease in tracking the financial performance of the company and easily meet the reporting deadlines.
  • You also need to prepare a chart of accounts to categorize the business transactions so that the recording and reporting get easier.
  • It is necessary to be updated with the ACRA regulations, or ensure that your accountants and bookkeepers are updated with the recent accounting norms. If you want to get rid of legal issues, it is the best to educate your team.

How do the bookkeeping services in Singapore work?

Basically, for an effective and streamlined process of accounting and bookkeeping services in Singapore, it becomes necessary for Singapore companies to hire an expert, for whom you will be required to submit your business financial transactions on a timely basis. The experienced accountants in Singapore may review and organize your financial information to create or maintain a standard ACRA-specified account ledger. This eliminates errors and helps you execute accounting and bookkeeping faster and in an efficient manner. Although you need to share the following records for bookkeeping purposes in Singapore-

  • Purchase orders/invoices
  • Sales orders/invoices
  • Expense notes
  • Payment vouchers
  • Bank statements
  • Payroll summary
  • Fixed asset register
  • Tenancy agreement/invoices
  • Inventory listing
  • Debtor and credit control
  • Statement of borrowing or hire purchases.

Why is there a need to outsource bookkeeping for a Singapore Company?

The accounting and bookkeeping experts offer high-quality advice that makes a difference. They also provide a wide range of accounting and bookkeeping services in Singapore to meet your unique business needs. They allow you to keep focus on the core business activities and reduce your stress. Experts are capable of making you understand your financial statements and the numbers in the reports. They analyze the financial statement and help to identify the specific areas where improvement can be possible, such as advertising campaigns and reducing unnecessary expenditures. A qualified accountant knows that the reports are meaningless if their clients are not able to understand. So, they are used to transform complex financial records in an easy, readable manner.

Why should you avoid Manual Data Entry?

Time wasting

It is evident how fast an individual can type. He or she is never much faster than an automated process. Bookkeeping services have a wide range of advantages and several methods to verify your entries. Manual data entry is a very time-consuming process, and usually, businesses don’t want to continue.

More Expensive-

For the purpose of making data entry, either you can do it by your own, or may be hire someone who will do it for your business. While the accounting and bookkeeping services in Singapore, comes under an added cost. Moreover, an individual will take more time to compete the entire task, and definitely needs more time to be perfect in this. Whereas in accounting and bookkeeping services, the experts are well versed and perfect in their task.

Errors

Errors and mistakes occurs at the time when people are well rested. The entire process is very complex and you need 100% focused in making data entry. Otherwise, you will add unnecessary garbage in your financial entries which will lead towards misinterpretation of finances. So you should hire someone who is experts of accounting and bookkeeping in Singapore, instead of make these entries by your own.

Who is overseeing the Accounting and Bookkeeping in Singapore?

The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) works as a Singapore’s National regulator who overlook the accounting and bookkeeping and financial reporting in Singapore. ACRA established the accounting standards and enforce the compliance with the Singaporean company Act and other existing regulations. Businesses are required to follow the ACRA guidelines for proper compliance.

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What are the Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (SFRS)?

Companies, with the help of financial experts, prepare business financial statements and present them before the concerned authority. These records are prepared on the basis of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), and some minor modifications are needed to meet the local context. Taking an example, SFRS has made different rules and regulations for real estate valuation, inventory valuation, and deferred taxes.

Moreover, the Key provisions of SFRS are important to guide the bookkeeping practices in Singapore as it ensure consistency, transparency, and accurate financial reporting. Business in Singapore, must be familiar with the accounting and bookkeeping provisions.

What is a Singapore Financial Year?

Unlike the calendar year, financial reporting is applicable in several countries. Singapore enables companies to select their financial year-end and provides flexibility to align businesses with the proper financial reporting as per their operational needs in accordance with the Singapore financial reporting regulations.

Note- In Singapore, the financial year cannot exceed more than 12 months, and the selection of financial year-end date should be consistent for subsequent years.

Singapore Goods and Service Tax

The Singaporean government imposes a goods and service tax (GST) upon the supply of goods and services. Under taxation law, businesses that have an annual turnover of SGD 1 million must get registered for GST. Bookkeeping for GST includes-

  • Maintaining detailed records of transactions.
  • Gathering and remitting the appropriate GST amounts.
  • Filing regular GST returns.

Computerized Accounting Systems in Singapore

Singapore promotes the use of computerized accounting systems to improve the efficiency and accuracy of financial reporting. Businesses in Singapore are encouraged to implement advanced accounting software which complies with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), which specifies the requirements for computerized bookkeeping and record keeping.

 Easy Tips Bookkeeping Tips for Efficient Business Finances

There are few steps to make an effective and efficient bookkeeping to manage your business finance in Singapore. One should follow these given below steps to ensure a proper bookkeeping in business operation.

Follow SFRS and IRAS Guidelines & Laws:

The services of Bookkeeping in Singapore, is likely to execute your bookkeeping in accordance to the provision of SFRS. Bookkeeping service provider understand the taxation implications for each and specific business transactions and are capable in using the appropriate measures to mitigate the taxation risks. It enhance credibility.

IRAS, (Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore) is the one of the government authority. It is not only necessary to categorize the business transaction. Along with that you must understand the guideline of government authority to classify your business transactions to streamline your taxation claims.

Understand Auditing Basics:

The services of bookkeeping in Singapore, are well aware with the fundamental of auditing and work closely with you to help in calculating whether your business in Singapore qualifies to be in the category of small company or let you know, whether you need to file an audit of its accounts or submit a director’s report, i.e. an unaudited financial statements to ACRA.

Meticulous Record-keeping:

The service provider of bookkeeping in Singapore, keeps all records of your business financial transactions, whether it’s big or small business and provide authenticity to your bookkeeping. Moreover, an accurate and proper bookkeeping ensure an effective accounting and the preparation of financial statements and manage reports accordingly.

Accurate Transaction Posting:

The financial transactions can performed differently as per the accounting needs and taxation purposes. Bookkeeping services in Singapore companies are more likely to follow the SFRS and IRAS rules and guideline and performed accounting and bookkeeping in such manner to stay compliant.

Manage Payables and Receivables:

Auditing business transaction books shows cases of discrepancies duly recorded by the business and bank. The bookkeeping service provider in Singapore is likely to record business transactions using innovative accounting tools with bank statements. They work together with the businesses to establish consistency between these two sets of records. In case there is some mismatch found, then the bookkeeping service provider will reconcile the accounts and thereby prepare a bank reconciliation statement to showcase the cash and the bank balances. Bookkeeping in Singapore helps you monitor the business cash flow through accounting skills and prepare accounts receivable and payables reports. The records without a sale invoice come under the category of accounts receivable and showcase the dues that you owe from the end of your customers. Meanwhile, your unpaid bills come under the category of accounts payable and represent your business liability. 

Open Corporate Bank Account:

Entrepreneur in Singapore should not mix their personal and business accounts; doing so will definitely lead towards disaster. This will make tracking of your business expenditure or expenses very complex. So, you must keep your business and personal accounts separate.

You can separate these by opening a corporate bank account in Singapore, which ensure an easy access to track your business operation and keep separate your personal expenses from business transactions. A corporate bank account in Singapore is very helpful for your organization and enable you to pay salary and all other business expenses.

Moreover an expert of bookkeeping services in Singapore, can help you to keep you free from the accounting and bookkeeping task by taking all your business responsibility and ensure a proper compliance as per the SFRS and IRAS guidelines.

Conclusion-

Effective and efficient practice of bookkeeping in Singapore is essential for businesses to maintain their financial stability, stay compliant with the regulatory Singapore accounting norms set by the Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (SFRS), and make informed decisions. Despite several advantages, bookkeeping in Singapore offers valuable insights into financial positioning and adds value to business operations. Moreover, outsourcing bookkeeping in Singapore can streamline business operations, reduce errors, and facilitate access to expert guidance. Ultimately, providing better accounting and bookkeeping services in Singapore will definitely help manage the financial essence and easily comply with the norms of the Singaporean government.

FAQ’s

  1. What is the significance of bookkeeping for Singapore businesses?

    Bookkeeping for Singapore businesses plays an important role in managing financial transactions in a systematic manner and ensuring accurate and proper financial reporting and compliance with the Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (SFRS).

  2. How does Singapore's business environment support new ventures?

    Singapore facilities a conducive business environment for company formation in Singapore and enable business with high level of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and provide extensive government initiative to support the growth of newly registered start-ups, and SMEs in Singapore. This quality makes Singapore, to be an ideal location to register a company in Singapore. 

  3. What distinguishes accounting from bookkeeping in Singapore?

    Bookkeeping in Singapore includes the recording and organizing of business financial transactions, whereas accounting is responsible for analyzing and interpreting the financial database to deliver valuable insights to make an informed business decision for Singapore business.

  4. Why is accurate bookkeeping crucial for Singapore companies?

    Accurate bookkeeping in Singapore is important as it ensures the provision of the best possible financial stability, mitigates the risk of penalties and taxation errors and delivers proper cash flow management to enhance the potential stakeholders' and clients' experience.

  5. How much does accounting and bookkeeping cost for start-ups and SMEs in Singapore?

    The cost for accounting and bookkeeping services in Singapore gets vary and depend upon the various factors including the workload and complex business transactions. Usually, the price range for accounting and bookkeeping in Singapore ranging from SGD$10 to SGD$20 per employee annually, with an average monthly fee around SGD$100.

  6. What are the bookkeeping requirements for Singapore companies?

    Singapore registered companies need to maintain their records of all business transactions, ledgers, journals and other financial transactions in written form, along with the following of specific guidelines to issue by the concerned Singapore accounting authority for taxation purposes.

  7. How long should Singapore companies retain accounting documents?

    As per Singapore government guidelines, the registered company in Singapore are required to safeguard or keep their financial document for a period of at least 5 years. 

  8. What documents are necessary for filing tax returns in Singapore?

    Singapore companies require documents such as Estimated Chargeable Income (ECI) and Form C-S/Form C-S (lite)/Form C to file corporate income taxes annually, complying with Singaporean tax regulations.

  9. How do bookkeeping services operate in Singapore?

    Bookkeeping services in Singapore includes the submission of financial transactions for review by the experienced accountants, who are capable to organize the data to create or maintain a standard account ledgers, and ensure an efficient and accurate and effective bookkeeping.

  10. Why should Singapore companies avoid manual data entry and consider outsourcing bookkeeping?

    Outsourcing bookkeeping in Singapore saves time and reduces errors associated with manual data entry while providing access to expert advice, compliance with regulations, and efficient financial management.

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