Recent news to South Africa’s owner-managed companies has proffered relaxed rulings on audits. After a decade of redrafts, the latest Companies Act announces the audit exemption despite an outcry by accountants, auditors and tax authorities.
The nitty gritty
As covered in the Companies Act 71 of 2008 and its Regulations, it is stated that: ‘Every company must calculate its ‘public interest score’ at the end of each financial year, calculated as; (a) a number of points equal to the average number of employees of the company during the financial year; (b) one point for every R1million (or portion thereof) in third party liability of the company, at the financial year end; (c) one point for every R 1 million (or portion thereof) in turnover during the financial year; and (d) one point for every individual who, at the end of the financial year, is known by the company— (i) in the case of a profit company, to directly or indirectly have a beneficial interest in any of the company’s issued securities; or (ii) in the case of a non-profit company, to be a member of the company, or a member of an association that is a member of the company.
It goes on to state: ‘An independent review of a company’s annual financial statements must be carried out (a) in the case of a company whose public interest score for the particular financial year was at least 100, by a registered auditor, or a member in good standing of a professional body … or (b) in the case of a company whose public interest score for the particular financial year was less than 100, by a registered auditor, or a member of a professional body or a person who is qualified to be appointed as an accounting officer of a close corporation (c) in the case of a company whose public interest score is > 350 and <100 if its annual financial statements for the year were externally compiled by an independent person.
Relax and rejoice?
The collective sigh comes from companies looking to celebrate being able to sidestep the meticulous process of an audit, the costs associated with it, the time that needs to be committed in order to comply with all associated requirements, and the in-depth detail necessary to meet the process and its criteria.
Small companies are celebrating because now it is free driven and for small businesses, the hassle may outweigh their priorities – as may the financial implications of running an audit. When cash flow is a concern, setting aside R20 000 for an audit may not be seen as commercial business sense at the time.
Why are the number-crunchers protesting? With merit, I assure you. These rejoicing business owners and their stakeholders alike should consider both sides of the coin. As a medium-sized company, the dynamic nature of your business, its cash-flow and how you choose to sustain or leverage your business dealings will almost certainly guarantee the need for a sound, thorough and professionally drafted set of financials which was at least reviewed or audited by a professional. The delay or complete avoidance of an audit or review is almost guaranteed to pose bigger problems down the line.
Straight off, the most immediate benefit is to have a solid understanding of what your business’ financial status is – at a glance – at any given time. An annual review (at the very least) guarantees your shareholders an authentic appraisal of how your annual figures have behaved – which may be used to leverage how you make internal strategic and operational decisions for the following financial year.
Furthermore, you may need finance to sustain or grow your business needs. To get the ball rolling, a bank will want to see your latest financials – an authentic assurance of the status of your business’ wellbeing. Using an auditing firm to compile these financials and perform an independent review will cost you nowhere near what an audit would.
Consider the big picture
It is important for companies looking to take advantage of the alleviations in the Companies Act not to see it solely as a headache they no longer need to suffer or a bill they no longer need to pay. Accounting professionals should be cognisant of educating their clients on the importance calculating their annual score, and that should they try to side-step or delay the audit and/or review, the time and costs invested in catching up are likely to exceed the initial industry-related costs suggested here.
In truth, the benefits attached to being able to confront your numbers on an annual basis speak for themselves. You may be surprised by realities you hadn’t yet considered, but with enough information to preempt any serious or long-term damage. Rather be afforded the opportunity to iron out small creases than face a potentially damaging likelihood when it is too late. A detailed review or an audit by experienced practitioners will mitigate risk while highlighting problem or questionable areas. Audited numbers could also lower your tax risk, as incorrect tax calculations could result in penalties much higher than your auditor’s bill
1: sections 26, 28 and 29 of the Companies Regulations, 2011 (GNR 351 of 26 April 2011) to the Companies Act 71 of 2008.
What Is The Real Cost Of Your Time?
Are you not fully appreciating the real cost of your time, and leaving money on the table as a result?
More often than not, the true cost of time, that is, the hourly rate of each person working on a project has never been accurately calculated and therefore not factored correctly into the quotation price, including overheads that are paid annually and profit. Owners forget that they too are selling time in managing the project, but more often than not, include the cost of their time as part of the profit.
Many business owners do not realise that part of what they do is sell time and they do not consider calculating how much their hourly rates and those of their employees are. For example, take a small artisan ice-cream producer who has two employees who mix the ice-cream ingredients and place the mixture into ice-cream machines all day, while the owner spends half of every day supervising this process.
The employees are selling time and the owner is selling a half day of her time every day. They are not just selling ice-cream. These costs should be factored into each ice-cream tub’s selling price.
In simple terms, hourly rates are calculated using the employees’ annual remuneration package, including benefits such as medical aid, provident fund contributions and travelling allowances, company contributions to statutory obligations and overheads plus profit divided by the average labour capacity in a year.
To simplify this, here is the equation:
Annual Remuneration + Benefits
+ Company Contributions
+ Annual Company Overheads + Profit
If the owner of the business is providing the service personally, the remuneration should be market related and relevant to the years of their experience as well as the skill level and risk attached to the actual service being provided. For example, in the medical profession a cardiac surgeon provides more complex services and carries more risk in his work than a general practitioner and would therefore have good reason to demand a higher fee or hourly rate.
Depending on the industry, some element of an employee’s day will be unproductive as it is unreasonable for any person to be productive for a full eight hours, particularly in a high-skilled industry.
That leaves just 14 working days a month when averaged over a year. That’s right, less than three weeks a month.
Make sure that you recalculate your hourly rate and that of your employees each time there is a change in remuneration or benefits. The remuneration paid to employees who do not directly generate income, such as receptionists, administrators and sales personnel should be included under overheads.
If the hourly rate costing is correct, each employee’s true productivity can now easily be measured against the income they directly produce or have contributed when compared to their remuneration package. This provides useful information when conducting employee appraisals and addressing pay rises.
Related: How to Get the Better of Debt
If your business is selling a service or any part of a service, when last did you ask your accountant to assist you in checking your hourly rate and that of your employees?
EasyBiz QuickBooks – Business Management That Balances
EasyBiz QuickBooks – By Entrepreneurs, For Entrepreneurs.
EasyBiz QuickBooks are known for their business management software that makes accounting easy and the reason for that is EasyBiz was once a start-up business too.
Developed from the entrepreneurial spirit of Gary Epstein who wanted to offer small to medium businesses the opportunity to take ownership of their business success and growth by offering them an accounting package that would help them to achieve these goals.
EasyBiz have been there – done that, and are striving to share this knowledge and experience with their loyal customers to ensure that they bypass all of the possible pitfalls associated with the transition from being a growing business to a big business.
QuickBooks’ history in South Africa started 22 years ago, in 1994, when it was part of the Brilliant Accounting Software Company. In 2003 Softline Pastel merged with Brilliant and a year later QuickBooks was set up as a separate company within Softline.
Gary Epstein saw the value of this global brand and seperated from Softline by way of a Management Buy Out in 2005. Since then, guided by passion and a belief that this software truly lives up to its promise of making accounting easy, the company has gone from strength to strength in the South African market.
With over 50 000 users in South Africa and 63 Million around the world, QuickBooks has indeed gone from a relatively small business to a force to be reckoned with in the accounting and payroll software space.
This growth is not surprising when one considers the innovative and comprehensive nature of QuickBooks’ business software solutions. QuickBooks recognises the challenges that most small and growing businesses face – they have faced them too.
Many entrepreneurs, executives or managers are very good at what they were trained to do, but have very little idea about how the financial side of the business operates.
How many business owners and managers have you come across that can’t read a balance sheet? If you ask them why, they will always say that they rely on their CFO, FD, FM or accountant to tell them what’s happening to their business’s finances.
This lack of financial acumen has resulted in business owners being misled, which in turn has led to the demise of many businesses.
This is why QuickBooks not only developed accounting software that is quick to learn and easy to use (for operators as well as senior management), but it can also be accessed by different levels of a business, as the business grows.
Take for example QuickBooks’s latest innovation – the Business in a Bag concept – aimed at start up’s and fledgling businesses, this package includes software, a training manual, discounted training and mentoring (all at a very reasonable price) and has been devised to help new business owners to achieve their goals.
QuickBooks continues to focus on serving the needs of small and medium-sized businesses in South Africa.
There are no hidden surprises and of course, with QuickBooks’ legendary, easy-to-use interface that has made QuickBooks the choice of millions of users globally.
Their entrepreneurial spirit and understanding of the needs of their customers has certainly been a contributing factor in creating the massive support network that they offer to businesses, whether they are just starting out or managing exciting change and growth in their organisation.
Says Gary Epstein, MD of EasyBiz QuickBooks, “We are an entrepreneurial concern and know how difficult it is to start and manage a small business. On this journey, one thing is certain, without a good financial understanding and a feature-rich accounting package, most new ventures fail. We believes in assisting start-up and growing business and our goal is to help ensure that the entrepreneurial spirit of South Africa stays alive”.
How the Right Technology Makes DIY Payroll As Easy As 1-2-3
Madelein van der Watt, Development Manager at Sage Pastel Payroll & HR, offers a simple guide to easy DIY payroll with the right technology.
If you own a small business and employ people, making sure they’re paid accurately and on time each month is probably one of your biggest headaches.
After all, it’s not worth your while to pay a full-time resource to run a small payroll, while outsourced providers can be expensive and unreliable.
However, it’s simpler and less time-consuming than you might imagine to run your own payroll, provided you put the right tools in place.
Here are a few steps to follow to successfully process a SARS compliant payroll and pay your employees on time, and all in just a few hours a month.
1. Have the correct employee info
Ensure that you have up-to-date and accurate personal information for each employee, including:
- date of birth (age affects the tax calculation)
- banking details
- medical aid contributions and dependents (for tax credits).
Employee self-service solutions allow your employees to view and edit their personal information from a web browser or a mobile device. That means they can help you keep their records up to date, which can save you a great deal of time and inconvenience.
2. Get the basics done
Capture the basic data for each payslip that will remain constant each month, for example, monthly salaries, pension and medical aid deductions, and fixed allowances.
If you store this information in your payroll software or on a spreadsheet, you won’t need to recapture it each month.
3. Getting the variable payroll input
There are many fields on the average payslip that change all the time – overtime, bonuses, commissions, travel claims, and loan deductions or garnishee orders.
Some of this information might be on email, some jotted down on bits and pieces of paper, and some claims might still be outstanding. Use technology to bring order to the chaos.
Insist employees use employee self-service to submit their timesheets and claims for overtime and expenses, so that you will have access to the information in one place when you need it.
4. Calculating deductions
This is the most difficult, time-consuming and error-prone step in the whole process, particularly if you try do it yourself with a spreadsheet or a calculator and a piece of paper.
Rather invest in a reliable payroll solution. There are affordable options with flexible, per-payslip pricing.
The really good ones allow you to do your payroll at your convenience nearly anywhere you have access to the Internet. You can do your payroll from your tablet or smartphone while travelling as easily as you can from your computer at work.
Related: How to Survive The SARS Season
5. Producing a professional looking payslip – in paper or electronic version
Providing your employees with a proper payslip is a requirement of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. If you make use of a software solution, you will be able to generate a well-designed payslip with all the information required by law simply by hitting the print or email button.
6. Reporting to SARS
Each month, you must report your Pay as You Earn, Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and Skills Development Levy calculations to SARS, and of course, pay the money to the agency. You also need to send the UIF a list of your employees, how much they earn, and how much their UIF contributions are.
Payroll software will produce these reports in the correct electronic formats so you can email them or upload them to SARS’ e@syFile software.
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