Six Things to Consider Before Choosing an Audit Firm

Posted by in Everything Else

Having internal auditing provides worthy insight concerning an enterprise’s business policies and procedures from an independent viewpoint and ensures that it’s governance, risk management, and internal control systems are as per the standard and are functioning orderly. If you’re looking for an audit firm in Dubai, in view of the importance of getting your financial statements audited, before choosing your accounting partner, you need to ensure that the agency you hire is expert, dependable, and suitable for your business need. Here are six points that you should consider to make your process of searching for hassle-free and foolproof. 

Reputation

Regardless of we’re on the lookout for a job, a dentist, or a plumber, we find someone who has a high reputation in the industry. This is because, reputation displays the image of a person, organization or a service provider and characterizes the uprightness of the entity as valued by the society. Thus, when you are looking for an audit firm in Dubai never ignore to listen to the industry buzz to make sure that the partner you are choosing is well-skilled, reliable, and devoted. Reputation cannot be built overnight but comes through decades of dedicated services, maintaining quality standard and commitment. Get through corporate websites, talk to your like-minded business groups, stakeholders, and accordingly make a list of 2-3 names for further research.

Qualification

The job of auditing is much different from bookkeeping or preparing books of accounts. It requires high background, razor-sharp insight, and great analytical sense to review the vast financial systems of a company ensuring if they’re performed as per the accounting standards or there are some missing areas, irregularities or fraud. They’re the professionals who design your company’s internal control systems in a custom manner after due consideration your company’s individualized needs. Therefore, make sure that your audit firm in Dubai is fitted with professionals like CPAs, CAs, CIAs, and ACCAs who are likely to take care of your auditing job. Being operational in one of the free zones in Dubai, before choosing the firm, you must verify whether or not they’re approved DMCC auditors. If yes, then only you can move ahead further.  

Experience

Never make a mistake to join hands with an audit firm which is in the startup stage or even a company working just for a few years in the market, regardless of it boasts a high growth rate. You should always go for an audit firm in Dubai that has been operational in DMCC for more than decades and demonstrates being a service provider to some distinguished business groups in the industry. The value of experience is immense that makes a company seasoned to locate even the most critical fraudulent activities in an enterprise with great insight and intuition power. They understand the laws related to different areas of financial audit better than any average house.

Professionalism

As accounting systems are standardized in different ways, the practice of due diligence is intimately related auditing services that involve thorough analysis, examination, and investigation to find all potential impacts which may come into sight. When it comes to financial audits, compliance audit or tax audit, CAs or CPAs must perform their duties to unearth to the deepest part of accounting records that they’re auditing, rather than having a quick peek to reach a pre-arranged outcome. Having continuous education is a must for professionals involved in accounting or auditing that smartens them up in terms of the fast-changing laws and technological advancements keeping consistency with the global standards.  

Meet in Person

Obviously, having a personal visit is vital to assess how consistent is the team to take care of your business’s audit service. Meet the senior officials and check how long they are serving the same client which is a great sign of gaining customer loyalty with excellent client services. Make sure that the company is backed by ISO certification which is must-have for an audit firm in Dubai to establish its excellence, meticulousness, and professionalism as an auditor. Check other certification, special awards, and recognition as a DMCC approved auditor. Ask what kinds of papers you need to keep prepared before they start auditing. There is absolutely no harm to check who will be working with you while having a preliminary discussion with the professional will help you understand if you’re comfortable with the person or the team.

Room for Negotiations

Before partnering with an audit firm in Dubai, it’s vital for you to get details their fees, terms and other formalities if any to ensure their suitability. Importantly, as you cannot expect them to offer you services with professional fees compared to an average one, in general, they offer competitive prices according to their standard. If you feel the rate is abruptly high than the market standard, ask if the rate is negotiable explaining what you expect. If they don’t accept, you can obviously shop around further to choose a firm that suits your need but mind well, you should not compromise with any low-priced company considering the significance of audit services in the fast-changing business.

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Tips for Choosing an Accounting Firm

Posted by in Accounting

A professional accounting firm in Dubai is one that can manage all your accounting needs from day to day bookkeeping to the finalization of vital accounting statements at the end of the year. They should be well-versed and up to date with the latest changes in tax laws, internal audit and follow the standardized accounting principles that help you flourish in your business domain steadily and peacefully. In order to choose a professionally managed dependable accounting group for outsourcing all your accounting needs, follow the top tips as stated below:

Do Research

Considering the major roles played by accounting firms, take your time in the process of selection and never go for someone that you meet at first. Getting referrals from your like-minded and obviously trusted business associates could be certainly helping. Equally, obtain Google’s assistance to study websites of accounting firm in Dubai keeping in mind the need for the proximity of your service provider. 

Check Background

Study the websites thoroughly while you need to assimilate lots of information about the company in terms of their background, how long the company has been operating in Dubai, and what kinds of customers do they serve, etc. Try to find the founder’s/ managing partners background, if any, while the management of an accounting firm in Dubai is expected to possess a remarkable set of qualifications and skills in the accounting system.

Services Offered

Have a look at the different accounting services offered by the community. Don’t spend time on the pages that merely specialize in bookkeeping and accounting services while you should be intended to work with those companies that are focused on across-the-board accounting services in addition to business auditing, taxation, MIS and special advisory. Even if, you might not be requiring each and every service, however, when choosing an accounting firm you Dubai, always consider a pool of expert accounting professionals. As a growing company, this will help you to include more specialized services as and when you require and don’t have to look for some other service provider.

Put simply, as of day, you might not require having a VAT registration due to your low revenue (below than what is specified in the law), however, you may require it just in the following year. Finally, as you get package based service, depending on the types of services you require, you can get customized package rates from those groups.

Technologies Followed 

Gone are the days of an outdated software application based accounting systems. With the advent of cutting-edge cloud computing, now working with outsourcing partners and among business, branches have been simple, secure and relaxing. Since, you or your team will be in need of collaborating with your accounting firm in Dubai to share various financial data on a daily basis and might be from different places, before hiring the company, you must ensure if the company is prepared to offer you accounting services based on cloud computing to maintain proper synchronization with your accounting partner.

Security Systems

Make sure how the accounting set up of the company is protected from high-level security measures to avoid scary IT virus, malware, spyware apart from widespread cybercrimes which typically lead to data damage to data theft. While dealing with the most vital financial information of your company, the accounting house should ensure that they are properly outfitted to deter hackers and retain your vital financial database confidentially and secure.

Ask Questions

When meeting the company in person ask three vital questions:   

  • Which accounting team will take care of our accounting needs?

The whole intent of asking this question is to ensure if the company is properly organized to offer steady services to its customers as per necessity. You must not be expecting to make repeated calls or chat online to get some vital financial statement when it should be available in your devices. When working with numbers of clients, a professional accounting firm in Dubai should have an expert team to plan, assign, and ensure execution of the accounting tasks to their clients as per schedule

  • How would I expect your team to add value to my company?

A professional accounting firm should be capable to differentiate it from any average accounting company with its specialty, expertise and proven background to ensure offering you a superior standard of services that benefits you in different ways and add value to your business enterprise.

  • Can I have a list of clients who are working with you as your loyal customer?

Obviously, a good question and you should expect a professional house respond to your need quite smartly and smilingly. Typically, if a company is found hesitant in the respect should be skipped instantly as a major red flag.

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Three Things to Know Before Hiring an Accounting Company

Posted by in Accounting

The finances of any business are very important, and if you are not willing to delegate the task, you might find it difficult to manage the business. You might have considered hiring an accounting company for the purpose of accounting and book keeping in your business. Before you set out to achieve the goal, here are three things to know before hiring an accounting company.

1. Industry: The first and foremost thing you need to know is whether they understand your industry. Finances are general in one sense, but it helps if the accounting company has knowledge of your industry. You need to hire someone who has worked with businesses that are very similar to yours and understand the latest trends of the industry. For example, an accounting company that has an expertise in the functioning of manufacturing companies will serve manufacturing organizations better as compared to any other. A real estate accountant will not be privy to the latest regulations introduced in the field of manufacture. To gain information about their industry expertise, you will have to quiz them and ask detailed questions. Since you are spending money for a particular service, you need to be sure that you are working with the right person who has the ability to deliver. If you find that the person does not have knowledge about the industry you operate in, you know that he is not a right fit for you.

2. Qualification: Not many are aware that there is a difference between the term accountant and a CPA. They are used interchangeably, but they are not the same. You need to understand the type of services they provide. CPAs represent the firms that are audited by the IRS, and an accountant can help you prepare as well as organize what you need to present to the IRS, but the accountant cannot represent you. When you hire an accounting company, you need to gain information about their qualification. Are they a team of accountants or are they CPAs? Depending on the service you are looking for, you can choose a company. When you gain an understanding of their service, you will be able to save money and make the right choice. You also need to consider the long-term business goals so that the same company can work for you in the years ahead. You need to choose a company that can grow with you across each and every phase of your business.

3. Cost: Choose accounting companies in Dubai which meets your budget. There are some accountants which charge by the hour or charge a flat rate. You will have to determine the method of billing that you prefer. You will have to decide whether you need an accountant throughout the year or only for specific periods. If you need their service throughout the year, it is best to choose a company that offers a flat rate, and if you need one only for specific periods, you can opt for someone who charges by the hour. Discuss this upfront with the company and ask for an estimate before you choose one.

If you keep these three things in mind, you will end up choosing the right accounting company for your business. You also need to confirm whether the accountant will be available throughout the year or not. Your needs might be different from the needs of other businesses. Hence, it helps to clarify the same and be very clear about your expectations. Never be intimidated by the steps you need to take in order to pick the right accountant for the business. You will be happier with an accountant that can come in and help you save money as well as grow your business. Never rush this decision, you need to take your time and make a wise choice that is ideal for the future growth prospects of the business.

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Why Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program is Important?

Posted by in Financial Planning

Having an offshore account does not mean the government considers you as a suspect for criminal activity. Offshore simply means you have financial investments in foreign bank accounts. But, not disclosing this information to The Internal Revenue Service is a criminal activity. Whether you consciously made the decision to keep these assets a secret, or you made a mistake while filing your taxers, the IRS can impose steep financial penalties and even criminal charges. However, the offshore voluntary disclosure program is a way for taxpayers with undisclosed offshore accounts to have a second chance at revealing this information.

The Program

The IRS designed a special program to bring individuals, estates, and businesses into offshore and foreign compliance. The Offshore Voluntary Disclose Program is specifically for taxpayers who face exposure to potential criminal liability and/or civil penalties due to willful failure to report and pay all tax on foreign financial assets. Those who have undeclared foreign assets can disclose in exchange for protection from criminal prosecution. Once these taxpayers have completed the program they are protected from criminal liability and are provided with terms to resolve their civil tax and penalty obligations.

In order to qualify for the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, you must have unreported assets, income, or investments abroad. While you can also include domestic undisclosed money, taxpayers do not get the same protection as they would with their offshore assets. You must also enter the program on your own free will — hence the word voluntary. This means that you cannot be under audit or examination by the IRS and then submit to the program. But why doesn’t the IRS allow you to enter the program once you are under audit? Because you, as a taxpayer, have the responsibility to bring these issues to the forefront during an audit even if the DMCC approved auditor did not specifically ask.

Your Obligations

Once you enter the program, there are specific time requirements and reporting disclosures that must be done according to the IRS’s milestones. If you do not meet these milestones, you can be removed from the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program. Now that you are no longer a part of the program, the IRS can use the information they have regarding your offshore finances to enforce higher fines and penalties against you. We know that last part sounds a little scary — what is the point of disclosing all of this information for protection when the IRS can kick you out and use that information against you? No matter how hidden you believe an account is, you must perform a full disclosure and report all financial information when you enter the program.

The reason why successfully entering and completing the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program is so critical, is because the IRS can issue significant penalties against what may seem like a relatively minor infraction. If you fail to file a tax return than you can be imprisoned for a year and fined $100,000; however, failure to file an FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report) can lead to ten years of prison time and criminal penalties of $500,000.  A person that is convicted of tax evasion or conspiracy to commit offence/defraud the United States is subject to a prison term of up to five years, and a fine of $250,000.

Those entering the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure program must understand that completing the program does not mean they are exempt from civil penalties entirely. These penalties are not insignificant either — they are substantial fees that must be taken into consideration by those considering the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure program. However, they should not deter you from applying. You must also consider the major benefit that the program provides you with, and that is protection from criminal prosecution. Even though the penalties can be high, they are also rather predictable. If the IRS uncovers your secret offshore accounts through an audit, then both the civil and criminal charges skyrocket.

If you or someone you know is facing tax issues with the IRS, it is important that they reach out to an experienced tax attorney to help them deal with the IRS directly. With qualified legal advice, disputes with the IRS are more likely to be resolved in a quick and satisfactory manner.

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A Guide to Auditing Top Management and the Internal Audit Checklist

Posted by in Everything Else

Why is internal audit imperative? Internal audit is an essential procedure and effective tool for any organization to uphold information security and conformity program for efficiently and seamlessly managing risk. Simply put, while being in the key positions, a string of questions may strike you like, whether we do the things that we commit or if there are gaps among our objectives, actions, and outcomes? If there are gaps, what are the deficient areas, and how to mitigate them so that we can meet our agreed goals?

In essence, the whole idea of internal audit is to address those issues, unearth if management is on the right track or not, and for guiding them with all possible corrective steps. An internal audit Dubai is conducted through questioning and verifications, professionally and objectively to help enterprises improve its business practices through changing of working culture, operational efficiency, employment of latest technique and tools, risk management and compliance to the State’s prevailing laws and regulations.

Internal Auditing Of Top Management

Top auditors associated with internal audit in Dubai is given the authority and privilege to involve the top management of an organization in its audit procedure by adopting an official risk-based approach to conduct internal audit as specified by ISO 9001. By making the management the most essential part of the audit planning process, conveying them their responsibilities in different areas to be audited and querying plus cross-checking the targets and outcomes, internal auditing happens to be an invaluable tool for absolute development for an enterprise.

To begin with, it is ideal that an internal auditor to arrange an audit checklist to ensure that all requirements that are to be reviewed are taken into consideration. Once prepared, the team of internal audit in Dubai makes an attempt to find out if the management has adhered to the specified ways of practices or has been failed to follow them.

Key Check List for Internal Audit

• Management Commitments/ Objectives

• Quality Policy

• Customer Services

• Responsibility and Authority

• Role of Management

• Internal Communication and Coordination Standard

• Management Reviews

• Misc

Process of Auditing Top Management

 The auditor should make use of the appropriate business terminology while interviewing the top management and inquire the relevant questions with a view to obtain evidences of top management’s awareness of and assurance to quality, applicable to its overall business objectivities and management system.

 During the internal audit in Dubai, its learned pool of Auditors consisting CAs, CPAs, or CIAs follow all professional code to question and ensure whether the quality manual based commitments are issued from the management and how these are carried out in different steps.

 It is the responsibility of the auditors to collect purposeful evidences to establish that the claims what have been made by the management are proof based and exact. Depending on the management hierarchy, internal audit may involve top heads of accounts, production, and staff of other departments also.

 The documented objectives, policies, and procedures are considered as the audit inputs whereas the collected sample of evidences and statements made by top management are audit outputs. Accordingly in accordance with the documents collected, the auditor should report if any misalignment or disparity in found with the compliance and evident based outputs.

Report of Internal Audit

Subsequent to the completion of the internal audit, the auditors are required to produce an internal audit report explaining all findings, the positive and negative parts in a presentable manner. The executive summery prepared and reported directly to the topmost management and within the stakeholders who are having official interest with the company matters. Apart from pointing to the pros and cons of quality management, an internal audit needs to suggest on the areas of opportunities and present expert opinion for necessary improvement.

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Learn the Basics of CRA Payroll Remittances and When They’re Due

Posted by in Everything Else

Every employer in Canada has to remit the CPP contributions and the EI premiums in addition to the income tax that is deducted from the employees’ income and your share of CPP contribution and EI premiums. This means that the employer pays salaries and certain benefits to the employees, and the employer is required to calculate and deduct the amount and remit the source deduction every time a payroll is issued.  These include deductions which are based on the income earned by every employee.

It includes the Canada Pension Plan Contribution which is 4.95% up to a yearly maximum. It further includes the employment insurance premium up to a yearly maximum and income tax which is based on the current rates that are determined by whether the employee reports the business establishment or not. The employer’s portion includes the contributions made by the employer CPP and the employer EI premiums which is 1.4 times the amount deducted from the employee’s premium.

Things to keep in mind

  • There is no minimum age requirement or restriction for income tax or EI.
  • Employers may choose to reduce the employer premium by offering short term disability coverage.
  • CPP must be deducted for employees aged 18 to 70, who are engaged in pensionable employment and who are not considered as disabled.

As an employer, you need to know which remittance schedule you should follow. This basically depends on the average monthly withholding amount which is the sum of all the payroll deductions you paid to the CRA in a particular year. Your two year history of AMWA is used to help classify you as a remitter. There are four types of remitters-new, regular, accelerated and quarterly.

New remitter: You will be classified as a new remitter if you are a new employer and have never made remittance payment earlier. If you are a new remitter, your payment will be due on the 15th of the month following the one in which you made the deduction. Small businesses may qualify as a new remitter.

Regular Remitter: You will be classified as a regular remitter if you are a new employer with a history of less than two years and have a two year AMWA not exceeding $25,000. The remittances for regular remitters are due on the 15th day of the month following the one in which deductions are made.

Accelerated Remitter: The third category is of an accelerated remitter which has two sub categories. The first has a threshold of employers with a two year AMWA ranging between $25,000 – $99,999.99. Remittances for these threshold remitters are due on the 25th day of the same month for the payroll which is processed in the first 15 days of the month. For a payroll that is processed after the 16th day of the month, the remittances are due by the 10th day of the next month. The second threshold is for employers with a two year AMWA exceeding $1, 00,000. The payments for threshold 2 remitters are due no later than the third working day after the 1st. 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th, 21st and 22nd day and the last day of the month. Basically, the remittance will be due no later than the third business day after the week in which the payroll has been processed. Remitters in this category also need to make payments through a financial institution one day before the due date. In order to make your job easier, you can opt for CRA payroll remittance online.

Quarterly Remitter: The last category is a quarterly remitter which usually consists of small businesses. These remitters have an AMWA not exceeding $3, 000 in the previous two years and have an ideal compliance history with the CRA. Their remittances are due on or before the 15th of April, 15th of July, 15th of October and 15th of January for the payrolls that are processed in the previous quarters.

It is extremely important for every employer to make payments on time in order to avoid fines and penalties.

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What is The Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program and How Does it Help?

Posted by in Financial Planning, Everything Else

The Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) is an initiative by the IRS to assist individuals, estates, and businesses into Offshore and Foreign Compliance. But what does it mean? Offshore refers to anything that is not domestic, meaning, in the IRS’s perspective, you have money overseas. The money can be in the form of foreign accounts, investments, or property.  Voluntary means that you are entering the program on your own volition: you cannot be currently audited or under examination; it has to be a proactive decision. Disclosure refers to full disclosure, if you want to disclose offshore assets, then you must disclose all of it, whether it was held in an institution that no longer exists or held anonymously where you believe the IRS would never find it. The OVDP is an approved IRS Program, which means it has specific time requirements: disclosures must be done according to the program’s milestones or you risk removal from the program. The Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, in its current 2014 iteration, will terminate on September 28, 2018.

Eligibility

You can be eligible to join the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program if you have invested legal source funds (funds not derived from criminal activity) in undisclosed assets overseas. As well, you must not have made a submission pursuant to a streamlined procedure, such as the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures (SFCP). The act of not disclosing assets must have been willful to be able to use the OVDP, if it was not willful, then you would use the SFCP to become compliant. Lastly, you also cannot be under civil examination or criminal investigation by the IRS; it must be a proactive action on your part and by your own volition.

How the OVDP Helps

You may wonder why you would acquiesce to the IRS, especially if you think that an offshore asset can never be found out by the IRS, but you also have to realize that the penalties are very heavy, and criminal prosecution is possible for willfully not disclosing offshore assets. You may even consider becoming compliant with the current year and not correcting prior years, or filing amended returns and paying any tax or interest related to previously undisclosed offshore assets and income, the former being a “quiet disclosure” and the latter a “qualified quiet disclosure.” Both options are very risky (especially the quiet disclosure), as quiet disclosures could lead to you being criminally prosecuted if the amounts and facts surrounding the case are not acceptable to the IRS examiner.  By using the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, you are able to limit the amount of penalties you incur for your willful acts.

Penalties

The Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program will assess a mandatory “miscellaneous Title 26 offshore penalty” of 27.5% on the highest account balance in exchange for not facing criminal prosecution. The penalty will jump to 50% if the foreign financial institute is on the IRS’ Foreign Financial Institutions or Facilitator’s List. You will also be required to pay 20% accuracy-related penalties under IRC § 6662(a) on the full amount of your offshore-related underpayments of tax for all years; pay failure-to-file penalties under IRC § 6651(a)(1), if applicable; and Pay failure-to-pay penalties under IRC § 6651(a)(2), if applicable.  The penalty for not using the OVDP and having the IRS discover your foreign assets can reach up to 100% of the value of the foreign account in a multi-year audit scenario. If you can show reasonable cause, the IRS has extreme leeway with penalties and could waive your penalties entirely, but it is a huge risk to take without the help of the OVDP

How to Apply for the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program

To start the procedure to apply for the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, you must first submit a preclearance letter to the IRS. It will typically take 30 to 45 days for a response from the IRS; if they had already discovered your undisclosed assets, then they will deny your preclearance. Once you have been granted preclearance, you will have 90 days to fully comply with any provisions stated in their response (submission of amended tax forms and questionnaires), and in exchange, the IRS will not recommend prosecution by the Department of Justice for noncompliance.  Once you have submitted all the required forms stated in the letter, the IRS will then propose a closing agreement (Form 906), at which point you can sign the agreement or decide to opt out of the OVDP.

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