Accounting fraud on the rise

The logo of KPMG.

Smaller finance teams, more stressed companies and complex reporting rules are leading to more mistakes in mid-size and small company financial records, raising the risk of fraud going undetected, says an auditor.

A bi-annual survey of fraud in Australia and NZ by KPMG, released on Thursday, shows the level of fraud by individuals of more than $1 million rose 82 per cent between 2010 and 2012, while fraud by internal staff rose to 75 per cent of the total from 65 per cent.

via Warning on accounting fraud as pressures rise.

SARS becomes stricter

Tax Preparation

In this respect, SA falls in line with a world wide trend: the discernible flexing of muscle by tax administrations in a bid to generate extra revenue. For many countries this is a knock- on effect of the global financial crisis; for many African countries, enhancing domestic revenues is also crucial to reducing dependence on foreign assistance.Whatever the local imperative, the environment has never been riper for tax controversy in developed and emerging markets.The worry for companies is that aggressive clampdowns by a country’s revenue authority can lead to prolonged, burdensome wrangles that can ultimately render it inefficient for firms to continue doing business there .But an important policy shift is taking place, of which business, especially multinationals, should take heed: not only are tax administrations becoming more aggressive, they are becoming more effective. It emerges from a recent global survey by Ernst & Young that taxpayer data is being shared by tax administrations as never before , while multilateral tax enforcement efforts are growing.The Joint International Tax Shelter Information Centre is an example of this collective approach, as is the recent signing by SA and 12 other countries of the convention on mutual administrative assistance in tax matters.But perhaps the most chilling manifestation of this increased co-operation between tax administrations is the dawn of the joint audit investigation, which is a simultaneous examination of a multinational by the tax authorities in a number of jurisdictions .In the face of this phalanx of revenue scrutiny, it is perhaps of some comfort to be aware that tax administrations recognise that to be effective they need to co-operate with taxpayers and engage with them in dialogue.As the chairman of the African Tax Administration Forum Ataf, Oupa Magashula, said recently: “Experience has proven that there are distinct and tangible benefits for both revenue and business, as well as their advisers, to engage in more consultative and collaborative relationships.” While at present Ataf has no formal procedure to facilitate engagement with investors, Magashula has said he would welcome suggestions from business on a possible African engagement strategy.However, Ataf has also been vocal about the need to bed down measures to stem tax avoidance and evasion in the region, saying developing countries lose revenue through the siphoning of money to tax havens.The recognition by tax authorities that dialogue with taxpayers is integral to effective tax collection is encouraging. But for it to be meaningful, authorities should resist the temptation to paint all multinationals with the same brush. Just as emerging markets can differ considerably from one another and should not be regarded by investors as homogeneous, so it must be recognised that multinational companies often differ markedly from one another in approach, behaviour, policy and their philosophy on tax matters.Realistic communication between tax authorities and taxpayers should engender a more holistic appreciation of what multinationals are doing and lead to a less confrontational position being taken by all sides.In the meantime, routine information sharing between tax authorities, together with more sophisticated risk assessment and audit methodologies, mean that tax risk management needs to be securely embedded in companies’ approach to corporate governance .

via On my mind – Tax laws-Tax muscle-flexing.

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AFS and Tax Return always required

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THE new Companies Act along with the International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) for small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can help reduce audit costs and simplify financial statements, according to Deloitte.

“To a degree an audit is no longer a grudge purchase,” Deloitte said in a statement yesterday.

Deloitte Western Cape partner Geoff Fortuin said: “Despite the fact that the IFRS for SMEs and the new Companies Act have made financial reporting simpler and more cost- effective through less stringent financial reporting requirements, many businesses still don’t understand what options are available and how the new legislation and standards interplay to their benefit.”

The IFRS for SMEs became the first set of international accounting requirements prepared specifically for SMEs in 2009. It was devised in response to demands by users of international accounting standards for a less onerous financial reporting framework for SMEs.

After the global transition to the IFRS, issued by the International Accounting Standards Board, all JSElisted companies were required to report under IFRS to ensure firms globally made the same levels of disclosures and used the same conceptual approach when reflecting their financial results. These requirements are however not mandatory for unlisted subsidiary companies of listed entities, which may elect to use the IFRS for SMEs.

This could cause some difficulties with the group consolidation process, but suitably designed year- end group reporting packs can be used to overcome this.

The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants has said the IFRS for SMEs is suitable for all entities that prepare general purpose financial statements (not tailored to the needs of any one group). The new Companies Act, which came into effect in May, has also introduced more flexibility in the audit requirements for companies.

Whereas all public companies and parastatals will be required to conduct audits as was the case under the previous Companies Act, there are more accommodating requirements for a large proportion of private companies. These depend on their level of turnover, debt and number of employees.

These factors determine the entity’s public-interest score which in turn determines whether the company’s financial statements must be reviewed or audited. In certain limited circumstances, the new Companies Act requires neither an audit nor a review to be performed.

via BusinessDay – Company Act ‘offers way to cut costs’

New Companies Act points system

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Initial complications are to be expected as companies and close corporations CCs try to work out how to calculate public interest scores PIS in the New Companies Act and interpret the regulations.That’s the view of Ian Scott, joint managing partner of the Grant Thornton Cape office.“The new Companies Act, which came into effect on 1 May 2011, includes a PIS calculation which determines what report these entities need going forward, unless they hold assets in a fiduciary capacity with an aggregate value of over R5 million, in which case an audit is needed.”“The new Act also brings increased regulation to close corporations as their PIS calculations are subject to the same criteria as companies, although the outcomes are different,” says Scott.The Regulations provide for both activity and size criteria to determine whether or not companies or close corporations require audited financial statements. The Regulations state that every entity is required to calculate its PIS at the end of each financial year and the score is calculated as the sum of the following:A number of points equal to the average number of employees as determined by the Labour Relations Act of the company during the financial year;One point for every R1 million or portion thereof in third-party liabilities at year end these exclude shareholder loans and intercompany loans with common shareholdings;One point for every R1 million or portion thereof in turnover during the financial year; andOne point for every individual who, at the end of the financial year, is known by the company to directly or indirectly have a beneficial interest in the business.If a close corporation has a PIS score below 100 it requires an accounting officer’s report just the same as it did previously.

via New Companies Act points system gives useful guidelines but determinations complicated – Grant Thornton.