Remember the old days when we had to copy figures from a company’s financial statements listed online and then paste it on a local spreadsheet for our usage? It turned a simple thing complicated.
With the rise of XBRL, companies in Singapore can now upload data in a more compatible and easy-to-use format. You can now download the data in XBRL format and convert it into a spreadsheet seamlessly.
Also, XBRL has brought about uniformity in how companies present their data because of the presence of identification tags and language familiarity. It has allowed companies from across the world, who follow different formats to compile data in the prescribed format.
What is XBRL?
XBRL or eXtensible Business Reporting Language is a more communicative variant of XML (eXtensible Markup Language). Explicitly developed for improving the communication abilities of financial data across users such as investors, regulators, and analysts, it is a data-rich version.
Over the years, it has become a standard variant for reporting. It has been followed by profit-making and non-profit-making organizations all over the world for presenting their financial information. It ensures data integrity and offers an electronic format that makes business reporting convenient for entities.
Also known as “bar codes for reporting,” XBRL ensures accurate and more efficient reporting.
Here is why governments and companies have imbibed it in their ecosystem –
- It enables reports to be published in their original form, allowing stakeholders to understand and utilize them better
- It will enable organizations to report their financials in their chosen style by allowing support for global currencies, languages, and formats
- It will allow the end-users to test the data against a set of business and logical rules to establish authenticity and eliminate the chance of making errors
- The data in XBRL format conforms to the set definitions and regulations, allowing end-users to utilize it confidently.
What are XBRL tags and taxonomies?
A computer doesn’t understand human language. So XBRL uses unique tags to ensure that machines understand human data. It assigns mark-up tags to each unique data item. This allows computers to analyze and understand the nature of the information and recognize, process, store, and exchange it intelligently.
With different countries following different formats, there is a need to organize and define the tags in a constructive manner. It is the reason for the presence of taxonomies. They are computer-readable dictionaries of XBRL and help determine the tags, organize them, and ensure that they have a meaningful structure.
XBRL filing requirements in Singapore
Regulators in Singapore thought that the existing XBRL requirements were cumbersome for the companies in the country. So in a bid to streamline the process, ACRA has introduced a series of improvements applicable from 1st May 2021.
Any company filing its financial statements prior to this date can continue with the existing format. It has also allowed companies to apply the revised requirements before 1st May 2021 voluntarily.
Here are the four templates introduced/revamped by ACRA for improving filing requirements –
Entities in Singapore had to manage 420 data elements previously, and it felt cumbersome. So the new amendment has curtailed it by 50% and brought the number down to 210. The Full XBRL template will cover the information in primary statements and selected notes to the financial statements.
The Simplified XBRL template replaces the XBRL FSH (General). It aims to capture more in-depth information and has added 120 data elements for the same.
XBRL FSH (Banks)
There are no significant changes in the XBRL FSH (Banks) template, and ACRA has only added 80 data elements to give more options to entities.
XBRL FSH (Insurance)
Like the banks’ template, they have given the insurance template a boost of 80 data elements to ensure better reporting by the companies in Singapore.
Depending on the group you fall in, you will have the option to file in either of these new templates.
What is the XBRL filing deadline?
Singapore follows a preceding year basis for accounting. It means that entities in the country file their tax returns based on the previous year’s financials. ACRA can penalize them if they fail to submit their annual returns timely or if the presentation is outdated.
The due date for filing annual returns in XBRL is 7 months after financial year end.
Who needs to follow XBRL filing requirements?
As per ACRA regulations, all business organizations in Singapore need to follow the XBRL format for filing. Every company incorporated in Singapore or carrying on business in the country, unlimited or limited by shares, files their FS with ACRA in this format.
The following entities are exempt from filing their FS in XBRL format –
- Limited partnership
- Sole proprietor
- Dormant companies fulfilling the requirements prescribed under Section 201A of the Singapore Companies Act
Who is responsible for XBRL filing?
Most companies in Singapore appoint internal accountants or hire an external entity to help them file their FS in XBRL format. It requires expertise and a thorough understanding of the concepts outlined by the Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (SFRS) and SFRS for Small Entities.
Given the strenuous compliance procedures, most entities prefer outsourcing to save the time of their internal staff and let them focus on their primary tasks. It saves time and money and also ensures higher accuracy in the filing process.
Even though the companies levy these individuals for accurate and timely submission, ACRA holds company directors responsible. So this personnel requires authorization for submitting the final draft from the higher authority.
Are there different XBRL formats for different companies?
Yes. Not every company in Singapore is liable to use the same format for filing its financial statements. We have already discussed the four available templates – Full XBRL, Simplified XBRL, XBRL FSH (Banks), and XBRL FSH (Insurance).
Here is the bifurcation –
|Type of companies
|XBRL filing requirements
|Singapore incorporated companies that are not covered in Groups 2 to 5 below.
To follow Full XBRL template
|Insolvent EPCs (exempt private companies) incorporated in Singapore
Follow Simplified XBRL template along with a PDF copy of FS authorized by directors of the company
File FS in Full XBRL template
|Solvent EPCs that are Singapore incorporated
|They are exempt from filing their FS electronically, but if they want, they can follow XBRL and can follow either of the two methods:
Follow the XBRL format to type FS in the prescribed format
|Companies belonging to banking, finance, and insurance regulated by MAS
|Companies incorporated in Singapore but using other than prescribed accounting standards in Singapore or IFRS
|No need to file XBRL. Only submit a PDF copy of the FS authorized by directors.
|Companies limited by guarantee incorporated in Singapore
|No requirement of XBRL. Submit only a PDF copy of FS approved by directors.
|Singapore branches of foreign companies
|XBRL not required. Only submit a PDF copy of the FS authorized by directors.
What are XBRL filing fees?
Filing in XBRL saves a lot of time for many people, including the likes of employees and stakeholders. But given the tediousness of the job, most companies tend to outsource it. The fee of Full XBRL is higher than those opting for FSH templates for presenting their financial statements.
Most XBRL service providers charge the highest for filing XBRL on a consolidated level as it takes the most time and includes a lot of data elements. The XBRL on the company level is cheaper and takes less time, thereby costs lower. For banks and insurance companies, the filing doesn’t take a lot of time, and the service providers also charge a very reasonable sum for the same.
What comprises financial statements?
Here are the documents that a company in Singapore needs to furnish for the year that went by in XBRL format –
- Balance Sheet – It contains a summary of all the assets, liabilities, and shareholder’s equity as on the last day of the previous year.
- Statement of Profit and Loss – It includes incomes and expenses for the preceding financial year, such as sales, purchases, capital gains, losses, financing costs, and more.
- Cash flow statement – It is divided into three parts – operating, investing, and financing. It is a summary of the inflow and outflow of cash or cash equivalents for the preceding financial year
- Changes in shareholder’s equity – Also known as the change in equity statement, change in ownership refers to the changes in your company’s equity because of dilution of holding, issue of dividends and right shares, and more.
- Notes to accounts – It includes the detailed explanation of several items in the balance sheet and profit and loss statement for better understanding and insights.
Steps to file financial statements in XBRL in Singapore
There are three primary ways of filing your FS in XBRL form in Singapore. You can –
- Utilize the BizFinx preparation tool to prepare your company’s financial statements. Ensure you do it in XBRL format and then file the result as your company’s annual return to ACRA.
- Utilize compatible accounting software to prepare and file your company’s financial statements.
- Outsource your accounting services to an expert like InTime Accounting and let them do the rest.
If you are looking to follow the first step, i.e., use the BizFinx tool to prepare and file your FS, here are the steps –
- Click here to download ACRA’s free-to-use BizFinx software.
- Gather the source documents and keep them lined up. These are documents presented in your AGM (annual general meeting) and are usually in Microsoft Word or Spreadsheet format.
- Select the template applicable in your case and map the line items in your FS to the relevant tags as per the ACRA Taxonomy. You can leave specific fields blank if the value is not available (not disclosed in the AGM). Complete all the tabs and then move to the validation step.
- Once you have completed filling the template, the next step is offline/online internal validation. Once you receive the feedback, make the adjustments.
- Once you have completed the changes, validate the data you have entered by uploading it to the BizFinx preparation tool.
- After that, log in to BizFile+ and use the requisite financial statements in XBRL form to upload the final template.
How to correct errors in your XBRL financial statements?
There is nothing to panic about here. We are humans, and we tend to make mistakes. So if you have come across an error in your past submitted XBRLs, you can –
- File a Notice of Error (NOE) with ACRA if you want to rectify clerical or typographical errors. OR
- File a Court Order seeking dismissal of the submitted annual return and seeking permission to submit the revised one.
If your committed errors are found false or misleading, you may face prosecution. So it is imperative to submit the NOE as soon as possible to minimize the damage.
Let Intime Accounting take care of your XBRL filing requirements
The Companies Act of Singapore has mandated all the companies, barring some in the country, to file their financial statements in XBRL format with ACRA. It would help ACRA’s register to stay up-to-date and easy to reach whenever required.
In 2021, ACRA came up with several amendments to simplify the XBRL filing process. It seeks to make it more transparent and allow users to retrieve the financial statements conveniently.
Filing an XBRL is a tedious job. You would require ample patience to fill it without committing mistakes. So it is a better option to hire someone like InTime Accounting to cater to all your XBRL-related needs. We offer an umbrella of accounting services to cater to all your needs.
On a side note, not all companies incorporated in Singapore must have their statements audited. We can advise on the filing of unaudited financial statements if your company fulfills the audit exemption requirements outlined by ACRA.