Capitaland and Singapore’s new revenue recognition standard

where was i?

Effective on 1 Jan 2011, Singapore’s Accounting Standards Council requires that revenue be recognised when control of a property has passed on to the owner. Thus previous year’s figures have to be restated to allow for fair comparison. (Yes, this is additional work for everyone involved in the preparation of financial reporting.)

The purpose of this article is an attempt to understand the possible impact of the standard change to a company in the business of property development and management such as CapitaLand.

Quantify the change
Here are the figures reported by ST April 27, 2011 on CapitaLand’s performance for quarter ended March,

Sales revenue
2010 – $440m ($687.3m before restating)
2011 – $611.5m

Profit
2010 – $29.8m ($115.4m before restating)
2011 – $101.5m

Edgar’s observations and analysis
Both sales revenue and profit for Q1 of 2010 declined significantly by 36% and 74% respectively after the change in standard. Thus when you compare current quarter’s performance with that of previous year’s quarter, the management is able to report significant positive change in both sales revenue and profit.

The question is how much of the sales revenue and profit reported for current quarter could be due to revenue and profit “deferred” from previous quarters which we now captured due to the change in accounting standard.

The share price has hardly moved on the reporting. Edgar would like to speculate on possible reasons.

Efficient market hypothesis that we learned in class stated we assume the market is semi-strong in terms of efficiency in the share price reflecting all past, currently and publicly available information. Has the market been able to quantify the possible impact on CapitaLand’s bottomline since the announcement of its new standard adoption last year?

The lack of reaction to the strong figures could be due to other news, prevailing in the market, that are distracting the investors. Since the completion of the Election, property sector has been deemed to have been earmarked for radical changes deemed not conducive for investors.

Taking the more pessimistic stand, we should question whether investors understand the impact of the change in accounting standard. This was highlighted to me by an industry veteran who was very wary of earnings volatility due to the change in standard. The uncles and aunties type of investors may sell their shares unnecessary when a property firm is reporting losses in the current year due to “deferred” recognition of sales revenue and profit.

We await for more clarity.

How to prevent auditors from assessing your financial records?

Dear Friends,

I was just catching up on my reading of some old newspapers after a hectic couple of months when I come across this interesting article.

Sino Techfibre firstly announced that there were some issues pending from its year-end audit. While the management was in the process of arranging with E&Y for an expanded audit review of its operations in China (as informed in newspaper), Sino Techfibre reported that there was an early morning fire at its office premises in Shandong office which destroyed books and financial records. While the office premises were said to be damaged, the remaining production facility in Shandong province remained intact. Of course, the fire is being investigated by local police but the records have been destroyed forever.

Another interesting way to prevent auditor from reviewing financial records was to get the lorry carrying those records STOLEN while the driver was having lunch. This actually happened in 2009 with PwC having issues with verfying cash balances of China Sun Bio-Chem.

Source – Straits Times, April 25, 2011 page B13


China Gaoxian has also appointed PwC to verify cash and bank balances, the underlying sales and purchases and capital expenditures for its two subsidiaries in Zhejiang and Fujian provinces for quarter ended March 31. Luckily, the factory operations in the two respective provinces are still operating for now.

Other S-chips with similar accounting irregularities are Hong Wei Technologies and China Hong-xing.

Source – Business Times, April 22, 2011 page 6

When do your business need to register for GST under new rules?

Under the new GST – Time of Supply Rules effective Jan 1, 2011, there is no more prospective and retrospective test that we used to do.

Under the new law, the time of supply for most transactions will be triggered by the earlier of the following two events:-
a) when payment in respect of the supply is received; and
b) when invoice in respect of the supply is issued.

Consequently the rules to determine when a business need to register for GST would have to change too.

Suppose Company performed and completed only 2 transactions in the year 2011. Each transaction is $600,000.

One transaction has been invoiced and paid. The other transaction, while completed, has NOT been invoiced nor paid as at Dec 31, 2011.

The value of supply made in 2011 under the new rules is only $600,000/-. Therefore company’s liability to register has not yet arisen on Jan 1, 2012.

Taxman overruled again!!

The Court of Appeal overrules IRAS again, twice over the last two months.

What is the issue?
Are portable dormitories considered “plants” as per plaintiff being in the business of providing dormitory services or “buildings” as per IRAS?

At a total cost of $2.6 million, the plaintiff had built and operated 6 blocks of three-storey container-like as temporary workers’ accommodation and administrative use within an industrial estate. Each block was made of “steel beams held by nuts and bolts while panels were inserted within this steel framework to form walls. “The floor was made of timber and each dormitory was topped with a metal roof”.

Decision and Basis
IRAS has been told by the Court of Appeal to treat such portable dormitories as “plants”.

The three-judge court led by CJ Chan Sek Keong overruled the earlier decisions of Income Tax Review Board and the High Court and defined such assets as “plant” on the following criteria:-

  • built on prefabricated materials
  • could be dismantled and moved elsewhere within 90 days’ notice

The Court of Appeal concluded that the definition of plant would depend on “its exact operational role in the taxpayer’s business, its characteristics and the precise factual matrix and context concerned”.

Leung Yew Kwong and Tan Shao Tong from WongPartnership, lawyers for the Plaintiff, had argued that their client’s business of providing dormitory service involved moving and reusing such assets in other sites in the future. [The same team from the same law firm won in the Nov 2010’s case.]

IRAS’ lawyers, Irving Aw and Quek Hui Ling, had relied on past rulings of similar situations. They cited a specific example where circus tents functioned as premises and would not qualify as plants.

To the plaintiff, the decision could now claim for tax relief and secure “a tax savings of at least $500,000 based on 2004 tax rates”.

In my humble opinion, it is a difficult issue for IRAS as acknowledged by Judge of Appeal Andrew Phang. The law does not provide the definition of “plant” (as such words from my tax lecturer still echo in my head after years) and the three-judge court had to dwell on its precise definition in arriving at the decision.

Source – K.C. Vijayan, “Court of Appeal overrules taxman”, The Straits Times, Dec 18, 2010.

Court overrules tax authority

can you pick up customers in yellow box?

What is the issue in dispute?
The company is in the business of leasing aircrafts. The company has subsidiary firms in Cayman Island. The subsidiary firms bought aircrafts with loans pegged to floating interest rates. The aircrafts are rented out to airlines on fixed rental rates.

The subsidiary firms are supposed to use the rental proceeds to service the interest obligations. Often, the firms face revenue shortfall to meet those obligations.

The Singapore parent then entered into interest rate swap arrangements with banks in Singapore to hedge against the risk of floating interest rates on behalf of its subsidiaries. During the 17-month period from October 2006, the Singapore parent company made payments to its subsidiaries overseas as part of interest rate swap arrangements. 

IRAS’s position

  • IRAS has taken the position that these interest payments overseas are subject to withholding tax under provisions dealing with loans borne by the parent firm.
  • The Comptroller argued that such broad interpretation of the relevant section for such payments to be taxable has been accepted by tax advisers, practitioners and businesses in the past.

P/S – The name of legal counsel representing IRAS was not mentioned by K.C. Vijayan, the ST law correspondent.

The Singapore parent’s position

  • The tax authority has taken a too broad an interpretation of the law.
  • Such braod interpretation may actually discourage foreign investors from doing business in Singapore.

P/S – Leung Yew Kwong / Tan Shao Tong from WongPartnership represented the plaintiff.

High Court – Justice Andrew Ang
The Court ruled in favour of the Singapore parent on the following grounds:-

  • interest rate swap payments are not subject to withholding tax under s12(6)(a) of Income Tax Act
  • the payments were not in relation to any loan borne by the firm here
  • IRAS has taken a too broad an interpretation of the law
  • past acceptances by tax advisers, practitioners etc should not be cited to justify an interpretation of the law

The ruling would mean that the Comptroller of Income would have to make substantial refund and pay costs to the Singapore company. The costs to IRAS could go higher when business entities which were involved in similar situations and had paid the taxes may now seek a review with IRAS given the ruling.

Reference – K.C Vijayan, “Court overrules taxman, orders refund for firm”, Straits Times, Nov 6, 2010.

Singapore to have own accountancy qualification. Why?

who says accountants are boring?

What will be happening in 2011?

Singapore will soon have its own post-university professional accountancy qualification.

The Pro-Tem Singapore Accountancy Council is currently developing the programme with the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS) in consultation with accounting bodies in the UK, Australia and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

Why is described as “post-university… qualification”?

The certification process will be open to GRADUATES from non-accountancy backgrounds and foreign students. Theoretically a history graduate could go through a “bar exam” before being officially conferred the title of being a “qualified accountant”. [ACCA has done that for me and probably for majority of the accountants in Singapore ie. allows an Economics graduate to become a trained accountant which is internationally recognised.]

Why are we doing this?

Firstly, this is supposed to help Singapore to achieve a leading global accountancy hub status in Asia Pacific by 2020.

In the words of Second Finance Minister Lim Hwee Hua, she said accountancy professionals here and in the region will have an avenue to develop their careers by obtaining credentials that are globally recognised. [Singapore should become the top of mind place to get an accounting qualification that would be recognised by countries in the region.]

She said: “The objective is to develop accounting professionals who are not just deep problem solvers in the core area of accountancy. We also want our accountancy professionals to be equipped with the skills to interact with other specialists and understand technical issues from a wide range of disciplines and functional areas.”

Secondly, the Pro-Tem Singapore Accountancy Council is also looking into alternative niche areas for accountants here to specialise in instead of just focusing on the traditional areas of auditing, accounting and tax.

“We’ve already formed a committee to look at the different specialisation pathways in terms of risk management, for instance, development of CFOs (Chief Financial Officers), internal audit, valuation, taxation. These will be the specialisation, so called qualifications, that we can look at,” said Bobby Chin, chairman of Pro-Tem Singapore Accountancy Council.

Other areas of specialisation such as management accounting or forensic accounting may be introduced later.

Singapore wants to achieve the status of being a talent hub where “travellers from universe can land in Singapore and seek the necessary talents to perform whatever tasks needed”. Remember Han Solo in Star Wars? So if you are looking for a pilot to fly a interglactic spaceship or people to value a tree or to perform due diligence on a nuclear plant acquisition, we should have them here.

Source – http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ / Jonathan Peeris