What is XBRL?
XBRL stands for eXtensible Business Reporting Language, a language used in computers to present financial statements such that they can be retrieved from online records and transferred directly to users such as auditors, regulators, financial analysts for various purposes. More information on XBRL can be found at http://www.xbrl.org
The Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) implemented a new filing requirement for Singapore incorporated companies to file their financial statements (FS) in XBRL format with effect from 1 November 2007.
Why the need for XBRL?
Companies currently file their FS in PDF format. ACRA believes that the use of XBRL will achieve the objectives of facilitating the conduct of business in Singapore, providing more value-added financial information and enhancing the regulatory environment with improved transparency and timely dissemination of relevant financial information.
Who is responsible for the correct representation and accuracy of information? Directors of the companies will continue to be responsible for the correctness and accuracy of FS in XBRL format filed with ACRA. They are therefore advised to check the information to be filed before authorising their company or authorised persons to submit the information on behalf of the company to ACRA.
Which businesses are excluded from XBRL filing?
The new filing requirement will not apply to:
- companies that are allowed by law to prepare accounts in accordance with accounting standards other than the Singapore Financial Reporting Standards or the International Financial Reporting Standards;
- companies limited by guarantee; and
- foreign companies and their local branches.
- banks, insurance companies and finance companies whose activities are regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore;
Companies in the excluded category shall continue to file their FS by attaching a PDF copy of the FS as tabled at or used for the purposes of their Annual General Meeting (“AGM”).
Solvent exempt private companies (“EPCs”) will continue to be exempted from filing their FS with ACRA.
Insolvent EPCs and EPCs that are required by law to file their FS with ACRA will do so in XBRL format.
How would I know if my company needs to file in XBRL?
Your company will file its FS in XBRL format only it meets the following 2 criteria:
- the company’s FS ends on or after 30 April 2007; AND
- the company is filing its Annual Returns on or after 1 November 2007
How can I file?
You can either:
- do-it-yourself - log on to the Bizfile website, go through all the procedures and prepare the XBRL report yourself; or
- free yourself of the hassle by engaging a professional firm like AccountServe to assist you in the preparation
To facilitate DIY XBRL filing, ACRA has provided a free online tool known as “FS Manager” to enable companies to prepare and manage their FS in XBRL, via the website http://www.bizfile.gov.sg.
There are two filing options:
Option A - Full XBRL (filing its full set of FS in XBRL format); OR
Option B - Partial XBRL (filing only its balance sheet, income statement and mandatory information in XBRL format and PDF copy of FS presented at company’s AGM).
Option B is available from 1 November 2007 to 31 October 2008. ACRA will review and decide whether to continue after Oct 2008.
A company that chooses Option B will be required to file a PDF copy
of its FS in addition to the balance sheet and income statement in XBRL format.
What are the advantages of outsourcing if I can do it myself?
As directors are responsible for the correct representation and accuracy of the information filed, many times, it is not something that directors or owners of businesses leave to the juniors to do. However, the filing process can be time-consuming and daunting for directors.
Outsourcing the filing to a professional accounting services firm will give you the peace of mind in meeting your company’s compliance needs. For a small investment, you are likely to save a lot of your time which can be devoted to doing more business, rather than going through the hassles of figuring out how to use the system, extracting what to disclose, keying in, and checking.
We will be pleased to clarify any doubts that you may have on the above. If you need assistance with your accounts to meet the reporting deadlines or for assistance in tax filing, please feel free to contact us at 6222 6868.