Taiwan is an island nation considered a free administrative unit of the People’s Republic of China. It is one of the most technologically advanced manufacturers of computer microchips, and many leading information and communication technology companies have offices in Taiwan. Science-intensive industries are developing along with labor-intensive industries. Among the factors attractive to investors are the trend toward less government control over investment and foreign trade, and inexpensive labor.
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Taiwan has a two-tier system of accounting standards:
1. Taiwan International Financial Reporting Standards (TIFRS) regulated by the Financial Supervisory Commission.
All listed companies, over-the-counter companies, developing companies and financial institutions supervised by the commission, except for grassroots credit unions, companies issuing credit cards and insurance agents, had adopted TIFRS by 2013. All public companies, grassroots credit unions and companies issuing credit cards had switched to TIFRS by 2015.
2. Enterprise Accounting Standards regulated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA). Applicable to companies that are not under supervision of the Financial Supervisory Commission.
Tax legislation requires companies whose activity is aimed at making profits to duly keep accounting records and documents to calculate taxable profit. The format of financial statements is regulated by the Financial Reporting Regulations. The Accounting Research and Development Foundation is responsible for the adoption of these regulations. Additional rules set by the Financial Supervisory Commission apply to public companies.
In accordance with TIFRS, companies must prepare annual financial statements and keep for at least 5 years accounting records and minutes of meetings of members. Electronic accounting databases can be equated with accounting records, but before switching to them companies must get permission from the tax authority. Financial statements must be kept for at least 10 years after the end of the reporting period.
Companies whose purpose is making profit must prepare:
Accounts must be prepared for 2 consecutive years: current and previous reporting periods.
The currency of accounts is the local currency, new Taiwan dollar (NTD). If accounting records are made in another currency for convenience, they must be concurrently kept in the local currency.
Reporting and tax periods coincide with the calendar year – from 1 January to 31 December. At their discretion companies can end their financial year on any other date convenient for them having preliminarily obtained tax authorities’ permission to do so.
All accounting records, documents and financial statements must be in Chinese, but can contain a translation into other languages for convenience. Supporting source documents are compulsory for companies that prepare financial statements. Source documents are strictly controlled by tax authorities: a company that sells goods or services purchases prenumbered blank invoices (government uniform invoices) from tax authorities at the beginning of every month. Unused invoices must be accounted for in every period. Checks, statements and ordinary invoices are also accepted as supporting documents.
Requirements for public companies:
Requirements for non-public companies:
Besides auditing financial statements, in Taiwan it is necessary to audit a profit tax return for the Taxation Administration of the Ministry of Finance. This requirement applies to companies with proceeds exceeding 100 000 000 NTD, but auditing a tax return is also beneficial to other companies. For instance, expenses can be carried over to future periods in order to decrease taxable profit during 10 subsequent years. Auditing a tax return also decreases the risk of the government initiating examination of the company’s income.
Taiwan also applies a requirement to audit capital investments when incorporating a new company or decreasing / increasing the capital.
Provisions regulating audit and auditor’s opinion on financial statements by certified public accountants cover the issues of independence, requirements regarding accounts and disclosure of information, proposed audit procedures and other general requirements connected with the review of internal control systems. Independent auditors must audit financial statements in accordance with the current rules of auditing and certification and the Statements of Auditing Standards issued by the Accounting Research and Development Foundation (ARDF). In general, auditing standards and procedures in Taiwan are analogous to the International Standards on Auditing and the US Statements on Auditing Standards.
Requirements for public companies:
These requirements also apply to companies whose shares are listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange or traded on an over-the-counter market. In addition, they must file accounts for the 1st and 3rd quarter of the reporting year after a review within 1 month after the end of the quarter.
These requirements apply to companies that are regulated by the Financial Supervisory Commission and comply with TIFRS.
There are no filing deadline requirements for companies that follow EAS.
The deadline for filing tax returns is 31 May of every year.
Companies whose reporting period does not coincide with the calendar year must make a preliminary tax payment at the end of the 3rd quarter of their reporting period and file a tax return within 5 months after the reporting period.
The penalty for late filing of a tax return is 10% of the tax debt. The maximum amount of the penalty is 30 000 NTD.
If a company fails to file a tax return after a reminder from tax authorities, the penalty can be increased to 20% of the tax debt. In this case, the maximum amount of the penalty is 90 000 NTD.
The penalty for late payment of tax is 1% of the tax debt; it is recalculated every 3 days. The maximum amount is 10% of the total tax debt.
Penalties start to accrue 30 days after the deadline for filing a tax return and paying taxes.
Tax authorities can also suspend the company’s activity until it files a tax return and pays taxes and penalties.
Financial holding companies that own 90% of shares or more in a subsidiary can file consolidated profit tax returns starting from the tax year when 90% of shares or more are held during all 12 months.
Moreover, a limited liability company that owns 90% of shares or more in a subsidiary as a result of a merger, spinoff or acquisition (subject to special rules) can also file consolidated profit tax returns starting from the tax year when 90% of shares or more are held during all 12 months.
Consolidated tax returns must include all relevant local subsidiaries. Permission is not required to make a decision to file consolidated tax returns.
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