The Hong Kong company incorporation process has been well documented. However, a key aspect of this process is deciding upon a financial year end date, also known as fiscal year end, for your company. Unlike many countries in the world where every company has the same financial year end date of 31 December, Hong Kong companies are free to decide upon this date. In this article, we look to explain what financial year end dates are, and what should be considered when deciding on one.
What you will learn from this article:
1. What Does a Financial Year Mean? What is the Financial Year End Date in Hong Kong?
A financial year is any annual period at the end of which a company’s accounts are closed. A financial year end date signifies the completion of that 12 month accounting period for a company and is used for accounting purposes to help prepare a company’s annual financial statements. The accounting and bookkeeping records kept for a company will be maintained in relation to a company’s financial year end date.
A Hong Kong company’s fiscal year commences on the date of their incorporation and ends on a date set by the company’s directors (which should be decided by the date of incorporation).
Companies in Hong Kong have the ability to decide upon their financial year end date, with most companies in Hong Kong choosing to fix its financial year end date on either 31 December or 31 March, to align with the Hong Kong Government’s financial year.
There are times when recently incorporated companies under the new Companies Ordinance fail to select a fiscal year end date. In these situations, if no date is specified by the company directors, the financial year end date will be the last day of the month of the first anniversary of the company’s incorporation.
2. What to Consider When Deciding on a Financial Year End Date
When determining the financial year end for a Hong Kong company, there are two factors to consider – the accounting and tax considerations.
From an accounting consideration, it makes sense to determine whether a certain financial year end date will simplify or complicate a company’s accounting process. For example, it is common to align the financial year end date with that of related companies for consolidation purposes, especially if the Hong Kong company is a subsidiary of a larger, foreign group company. Doing so will simplify the accounting process for both companies by minimizing the accounting treatments that must be done when consolidating the group’s financial statements.
From a tax consideration, one should consider the implications associated with the company’s Hong Kong tax obligations – this is because a Hong Kong company’s financial year end date will help determine their annual profits tax return deadline.
In Hong Kong, there are 2 common financial year end dates, March 31st and December 31st. Hong Kong companies may also pick a financial year end date for any day between 1 April to 30 November. Companies should consider whether their annual profits tax return deadline will coincide with the peak season of their company and whether there are potential cash flow issues in those months.
Furthermore, companies should always choose the end of a month as their fiscal year end date. As financial statements are based on calendar months, choosing a financial year end in the middle of a month can create complications for accounting purposes. To the extent a company engages a tax representative, they may have their profits tax return deadline extended as follows:
3. Changing a Financial Year End Date
The Hong Kong Companies Ordinances and the Hong Kong Accounting Standards allow for the change of a Hong Kong company’s financial year end date. The most common reason for a Hong Kong company changing that date is when they become a member company of a group.
There are certain limitations which impact a company’s ability to change their financial year end date. Typically a Hong Kong company may change it if:
- The first financial year or period after the change of the financial year end must not be prolonged to more than 18 months
- A Hong Kong company cannot change its financial year end to the extent that they are presenting their audited financial statements and/or related documents in a general meeting in the same financial year
- Shareholders’ approval must be obtained if this is not the first time a financial year end has been changed or extended (unless it is for the purpose of aligning with the holding company)
- A public company, or a company limited by guarantee must report such a change within 15 days with the Companies Registry
If a Hong Kong company has previously changed their financial year end date, then they may only adopt a new one under certain conditions.
- The company directors must have a valid business reason for the change
Once a Hong Kong company has changed its financial year end date, they should also be conscious of any accounting adjustments they must make for their financial statements. This is because a change in the financial year end date may have implications towards the company’s profits tax obligations and may result in a recomputation of the company’s current tax liabilities. The IRD may provide guidance on these situations via advance rulings.
4. Why Should You Use FastLane’s Accounting and Corporate Services?
The FastLane Group has extensive experience helping hundreds of companies operating in Hong Kong in not only their company secretary matters, but also with issues related to company formation, accounting and auditing. With over 7 years of experience helping SMEs, FastLane has developed a unique understanding on the needs of companies operating in Hong Kong.
As we are licensed to provide company secretary services, we will make sure that your company strategy complies with all Hong Kong statutory requirements and stays informed on all developments related to Hong Kong’s corporate laws.
Furthermore, because FastLane is a licensed Hong Kong CPA firm we can act as a one-stop solution for all your business needs. As our accounting team can work closely with our company secretary department, you won’t need to worry about coordinating between different groups when it comes time to conducting your audit. Our teams will ensure that you will meet all your important deadlines and avoid
To receive a quotation for our company secretary services, or to enquire about how we can help you and your Hong Kong company, please contact the FastLane Group!