Record-Keeping Requirements for Singapore Companies
In Singapore, it is compulsory for companies to keep proper records and accounts of their business transactions. These records must be kept for two main purposes:
- To explain the transactions and financial position of the company; and
- To enable true and fair financial statements of the company to be prepared.
Proper record-keeping is also important because it ensures that your company complies with its tax obligations, such as corporate tax or Goods and Services Tax (GST). In addition, it enables your company to better handle its finances and be constantly updated on the financial status of the business.
This article provides a comprehensive guide on the record-keeping requirements for Singapore companies, including:
- What records must be kept?
- How should company records be kept in Singapore?
- How long should company records be kept for?
- Where should company records be kept?
- Effects of non-compliance
What Records Must be Kept?
Your company must maintain proper records of its financial transactions. These include:
- Source documents that substantiate all business transactions, such as receipts, invoices, vouchers, bank statements, and other relevant documents issued to or received from customers;
- Accounting ledgers, schedules and journals documenting your company’s assets and liabilities, income and expenses, profits and losses; and
- Any other written evidence of transactions connected with your business.
A record-keeping checklist can be found here. Note that the records required to be maintained are different depending on whether your company is GST-registered and non-GST registered.
For example, GST-registered businesses are required to keep tax invoices issued for income purposes and records of disposal of business goods, but these are not required for non-GST registered businesses.
How Should Company Records be Kept in Singapore?
The records of your company can be kept either manually or electronically, in a manner such that they can be conveniently and properly audited.
If your records are kept manually in a physical form, they should be kept in a legible and well-organised manner. For example, photocopies should be made of receipts printed on thermal paper in case the original receipts fade over time.
If your records are kept electronically, your company should ensure that proper internal controls are put in place to ascertain the integrity, completeness and reliability of the electronic records. This can be done by stating, for example, the manner in which records should be kept, when and how documents should be filed and stored in a database, or how image captures should be saved.
The First Schedule of the Evidence (Computer Output) Regulations sets out guidelines for storing imaged business records, which you may refer to.
There should also be security arrangements to ensure that the records cannot be improperly tampered with. Where records are kept electronically, you do not need to keep physical copies of source documents to substantiate your business transactions for tax purposes.
How Long Should Company Records be Kept For?
The records must be retained for at least 5 years from the end of the financial year in which the relevant transactions were made.
For example, if the financial year of your business ends in December, then the records for your business’ financial year of 2016 (i.e. from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2016) should be kept until at least 31 December 2021.
Where Should Company Records be Kept?
The records should be kept at your company’s registered office, or at any other place that the directors of your company think is suitable. At all times, these records should be open to inspection by the directors.
Effects of Non-Compliance
Business records can be considered not properly kept if the required accounting and related records are:
- Not maintained
- Not kept for at least 5 years and/or
- Not stored in a proper place or manner.
If accounting records are not properly kept, the company and any relevant officer will be liable to a fine of up to $5,000 or to a jail term of up to 12 months, as well as a default penalty under the Companies Act.
In addition, improper record-keeping may constitute an income tax offence that results in the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) disallowing your company’s expense claims and capital allowances.
Persons found guilty of improper keeping of income tax-related records may also be liable to a fine of up to $1,000 or a jail term of up to 6 months in default of payment under the Income Tax Act.
Proper record-keeping is essential when conducting your business to ensure that your company complies with the legal requirements relating to this matter in Singapore, while also allowing you to better manage your company’s financial affairs.
In this regard, you may wish to consider engaging a corporate secretarial firm for professional assistance on record-keeping.
- What is a Nominee Director, How to Appoint and Other FAQs
- Independent Directors: Who are They and What is Their Role?
- Board of Advisors: Who Are They and What Is Their Role?
- Appointing Company Directors in Singapore: Eligibility, Process etc.
- Managing Director vs CEO in Singapore: Roles and Obligations
- Guide to Directors' Remuneration in Singapore
- Directors' Duties in Singapore
- Shadow Directors: Who are They and What Duties Do They Owe to the Company?
- How to Remove a Director from a Company in Singapore
- Removal and Resignation of Company Auditor in Singapore
- Appointing a Company Secretary: Roles and Responsibilities
- Appointing an Authorised Representative for Foreign Companies in Singapore
- Process Agents in Singapore
- Share Buybacks in Singapore: Procedure, Cost and More
- How to Split Shares (or Stocks) in a Singapore Company
- 2 Ways to Remove a Singapore Company Shareholder ASAP
- What are Treasury Shares? Guide for Singapore Companies
- Guide to Paid-Up Capital in Singapore (Is $1 Enough?)
- Preparing a Register of Shareholders for a Singapore Company
- How to Issue Shares in a Singapore Private Company
- Guide to Transferring Shares in a Singapore Private Company
- Your Guide to Share Certificates in Singapore: Usage and How to Prepare
- Shareholder Rights in Singapore Private Companies
- Shareholder Roles and Obligations in Singapore Companies
- Dividend Payments Guide for Singapore Business Owners
- Share Transmission: What Happens If a Shareholder Dies in Singapore?
- How to Reduce the Share Capital of Your Singapore Company
- Buy-Sell Agreements: How to Write & Fund Them in Singapore
- Oppression of Minority Shareholders
- Is Your Business Collaboration Competition Law-Compliant?
- Explained: Registered Filing Agent for Singapore Businesses
- Transfer Pricing Obligations of Singapore Companies
- Adhering to Trading Sanctions and Restrictions in Singapore
- Cyber Hygiene Compliance Guide for Singapore Companies
- Corporate Social Responsibility For Businesses in Singapore
- Essential Regulatory Compliance Guide for Singapore Companies
- Dormant Companies and Their Filing Obligations in Singapore
- Anti-Money Laundering Regulations and Your Business: What You Need to Know
- Price-Fixing, Bid-Rigging and Other Anti-Competitive Practices to Avoid
- Legally Conducting Lucky Draws for Singapore Businesses
- Restaurant Inspection and Food Safety Rules in Singapore
- Does Your Company Need a Legal Team (In-House Counsel)?
- Acqui-Hiring of Singapore Companies: How Does It Work?
- How to Change the Name of Your Singapore Company
- Can Directors be Liable for Company Debts in Singapore?
- Company Loans to Directors/Shareholders in Singapore
- 3 Types of Insurance Every Singapore Business Needs
- Creating and Registering Charges in Singapore: Guide for Companies
- Guide to Effective Business Continuity Planning in Singapore
- Business Asset Sale & Disposal in Singapore: How Do They Work?
- Business Partnership Disputes in Singapore: How to Resolve
- How to Commence a Derivative Action on Behalf of a Company in Singapore
- Business Will: How to Pass on Your Business to Your Successors in Singapore
- Record-Keeping Requirements for Singapore Companies
- Company Constitutions in Singapore and How to Draft One
- Company Memorandum and Articles of Association
- Company Resolutions: What are They?
- Board Resolutions in Singapore
- Minutes of Company Meeting in Singapore: How to Record
- How to Set Up a Register of Controllers
- How to Set Up a Register of Nominee Directors
- Guide to Filing Financial Statements for Singapore Business Owners
- Filing Annual Returns For Your Business
- Carbon Tax in Singapore: What is the Rate and Who Must Pay?
- Laws and Penalties for GST Evasion in Singapore
- 6 Common Taxes in Singapore For Individuals & Businesses
- Singapore Corporate Tax: How to Pay, Tax Rate, Exemptions
- Start-Up Tax Exemption Guide for New Singapore Companies
- GST Registration: Requirements and Procedure in Singapore
- What is Withholding Tax and When to Pay It in Singapore
- Singapore Influencers: Here's How to Calculate Your Income Tax
- Tax Investigation of Tax-Evading Business Owners in Singapore
- Small Business Accounting Services in Singapore
- Company Audits in Singapore: Requirements and Exemptions
- Suspect a PDPA Data Breach? Here's What to Do Next
- Must You Notify PDPC About a Data Breach in Your Business?
- Data Room: Should Your Singapore Company Set Up One?
- Victim of a Data Breach? Here’s What You Can Do
- Summary: Your Organisation's 10 Main PDPA Obligations
- Essential PDPA Compliance Guide for Singapore Businesses
- PDPA Consent Requirements: How Can Your Business Comply?
- Is It Legal for Businesses to Ask for Your NRIC in Singapore?
- Here's a 7-Step Plan for Companies to Prevent Unauthorised Disclosure When Processing and Sending Personal Data
- Cloud Storage of Personal Data: Your Business’ Data Protection Obligations
- GDPR Compliance in Singapore: Is it Required and How to Comply
- Appointing a Data Protection Officer For Your Business: All You Need to Know
- How Can Companies Dispose of Documents Containing Personal Data?
- Check the Do-Not-Call Registry Before Marketing to Singapore Phone Numbers
- How to Legally Install CCTVs for Home/Business Use in Singapore
- Is Web Scraping or Crawling Legal in Singapore?
- Legal Options If Employees Breach Confidentiality in Singapore
- Social Media Marketing: Legal Guide for Singapore Businesses
- Your Guide to E-commerce Website Terms of Service in Singapore
- Dealing with Defamation of Your Business: Can You Sue?
- Sending Email Newsletters That Comply With Singapore Law
- A legal guide to drafting a social media policy for your company
- Your Guide to a Media Release Form in Singapore
- Your Guide to an Influencer Marketing Agreement in Singapore
- Outdoor Advertising: How to Legally Display Public Ads in Singapore
- A Guide to Digital Bank Regulation in Singapore
- Applying for a Major Payment Institution Licence in Singapore
- Applying to the MAS FinTech Regulatory Sandbox
- Payment Services Act Licensing Guide for Fintech Businesses
- How to Get a Payment Service Provider Licence in Singapore
- Financial Adviser's Licence Guide for Singapore Businesses
- Capital Markets (CMS) Licence Requirements in Singapore
- How to Offer E-Wallet Services in Singapore: Licensing Guide
- Digital Payment Token Services Licence Guide in Singapore
- How to Legally Offer Crypto Services in Singapore
- How to Restore a Struck-Off Company in Singapore
- Claw-Back of Assets From Unfair Preference and Undervalued Transactions
- Should You Save or Close Your Zombie Company in Singapore?
- Voluntary Suspension of Business in Singapore: How to Handle
- Winding Up a Singapore Company: Grounds and Procedure
- Closing Your Singapore Business: What You Need to Settle
- Striking Off a Company
- Restoring a Company That was Struck Off Without You Knowing
- Dissolution of partnerships in Singapore
- What Should a Creditor Do When a Company Becomes Insolvent?
- How to File a Proof of Debt Against a Company in Liquidation
- Validation of Payments Made by Companies Being Wound Up