Something to think about


image

I think I’ll let the map speak for itself. It was the main story in the weekend edition of Rzeczpospolita newspaper.

Liability of Polish company Management Board members – TGC Legal Alert


Warsaw skyline from Pole Mokotowskie
Warsaw Skyline - TGC's new office is near the left side.
 
 TGC corporate lawyers have sent in the following reminder of legal responsibilities of directors in Poland that are often overlooked. Please take a moment to ensure you know the following if it impacts on you.
Dear Quoracy.com subscribers,We would like to draw your attention to the liability of members of the management board in Polish companies, as regulated by a number of legal acts. Management board members bear civil liability, criminal liability, liability for tax obligations, liability to the Social Insurance Office and liability resulting from specific provisions (e.g. resulting from the Accounting Act – Journal of Laws of 2009, no. 152, position 1223).According to the provisions of the Commercial Companies Code (Journal of Laws of 2000, no. 94, position 1037) members of the management board bear civil liability for actions taken on behalf of the company already at the stage of establishment of the company, i.e. from the date of signing of articles of incorporationof the company. This applies even before registration of the company with the State Court Register.It should be noted that members of the management board bear civil liability towards the company, among other things, for any damages inflicted upon the company in result of the management board members’ activities or omissions contrary to the articles of incorporation. Furthermore, they are jointly and severally liable for the company’s liabilities when enforcement proceedings against the company have proven ineffective.

Criminal liability of members of the management board arises as a result of a property damage caused to the company.

Apart from civil and criminal liability, members of the management board are jointly and severally liable for tax arrears, as well as for lack of (timely) payment of contributions to social insurance. It has to be noted that this type of liability lasts even after deletion of the company from the State Court Register.

In most cases members of the management board may protect themselves against responsibility for the company’s liabilities on condition that they undertake appropriate preventive activities in due time.

We will be happy to give you any detailed information with regard to the liability of the management board members, as well as circumstances of release of the liability.

For further information please contact our expert:

Agata Pastuchow-Brzezińska
Director of Corporate Department
T: +48 22 653 3649
E: apastuchow

TGC Corporate Lawyers
ul. Królewska 27
00-060 Warsaw, Poland
T: +48 22 653 3644
F: +48 22 827 6915
E: tgc
W: http://www.tgc.eu

We are moving!From 1st May 2011our new Warsaw office address and phone numbers will be:Crown Tower
ul. Hrubieszowska 2, 01-209 WarsawTelephone: +48 22 295 3300
Fax: +48 22 295 3301

Article par David James et Lucia Rablova dans l’Entreprise, Decembre 2010.


Golden Charles of Praha
"Golden Charles of Praha" by Éole via Flickr

David James et Lucia Rablova de Baker Tilly Tchequie ont ecrit cette article avec Mme Valerie Malnoy de Baker Tilly France, qui est apparu dans l’edition de decembre 2010.  Nous esperons que ce contient sera interessant pour nos lecteurs francophones.

Les firmes associes de Baker Tilly sont a meme de servir des clients francophones en francais dans le plupart de la region de l’Europe de l’Est.

2010-12-08~1527@L_ENTREPRISE Rép Tchèque

Et ici vous trouverez le site de Baker Tilly Republique Tcheque en francais.

Domain names scam – what to do if affected


World Map Politic 2005 with ccTLDs - LQ version
CCTLD map from Wikipedia

You may have received e-mail (especially from Chinese and Hong Kong companies relating to .cn domains bearing your name if you didn’t register in China, but now more commonly in East Europe also) which says that if you use these people’s services they can prevent your name’s domain in that country from getting blocked.

Now this email gets sent out all over the world to addresses harvested from the internet page and chats and from usenet fora by robots, and of course the people behind the email cannot really afford to block every single domain that they are fishing for.  The one sure fire way of making sure that they do block your domain is if you respond to them, whether with threats or with asking for the help, even in terms of “what it would cost”. I suggest you only do this if you don’t want the domain really and have no intention of buying it, as if you are lucky it will lead the scammers into real cash outlay which they’ll never see any return on. I highly encourage that! Maybe some of these pests will stop it if they see that enough internet users are wise to them and don’t mind leading them up a garden path…

You can always search here on EuroDNS (in the interests of transparency that affiliate link earns 10% of anything you buy after you go there, but it shouldn’t cost you more and it’s the service I use myself) and see what the status is of all of your possible combinations of your name and the country endings or generic endings, as well as check the Whois status of all these countries, both Europe and Asia, all in one place. You will probably find that nobody has blocked your domain at all, and if you are interested in owning the domain you can block it there and then. They are ethical and I never had a problem with them that the owner didn’t solve within a week. If they are not contactable one day you can usually get them the next day. Continue reading “Domain names scam – what to do if affected”

Should your Company have a pro-forma audit?


Mostrador de um relógio Foto de Jose Goncalves
Tempus fugit - is it time for your proforma audit?

For businesses which have never been audited but which are growing up quickly to meet the audit thresholds in a year or two, you may wish to consider having your first audit done while it is still voluntary to do so, and the results, if less positive than expected, can at least be kept private.

Once your business has exceeded the audit thresholds (very typically in Europe this means for a private company about 50 employees, 5 million Euros turnover and 2.5 million Euros of gross assets, and it means 2 out of those three conditions – we just stated actually the Polish ones verbatim, (with the proviso that they also state a set PLN amount to avoid subjectivity for businesses that are on the cusp), but most countries are not far off that – even the Czech Republic which really needs much smaller thresholds)

Clearly this doesn’t apply at all to public limited companies, ie. the “S.A.”, “a.s.”, UK plc or German AG style companies which must be audited regardless of size – in some jurisdictions even if they are dormant – but for private limited liability companies most jurisdictions have size criteria like the ones just given – for Slovakia about 60% of the sizes given, so please note that this is divergent from the Czech ones, which are far too high for that country and result in proportionally fewer audits, which is a bad thing for corporate governance in that country.

While you are under the limits audit is voluntary. And you can have an unofficial audit whereby the audit comes and does for you all the normal work he would do if officially appointed, but it is only pro-forma. “Pro-forma” is Latin for something like the idea of “as if” so the auditor will work and report as if they had been properly appointed, but it is really a dry run for you. You do not appoint them as statutory auditors in the minuted general meeting, you do not have to file the report as the audit was voluntary, and you get all the benefit of the audit without the risk, and on top of all of that, I can get you these pro-forma audits for only 75% of the cost of a statutory audit, because the Firms we associate with want to promote good voluntary governance practice in the economy.

If you wait for your first audit until it is an obligatory one because you’ve outgrown the size criteria – and as we come out of the recession that will happen to some of you next year hopefully sooner than you dare hope for now – then if the auditor finds something wrong then the report of the auditor could be “modified” – I’ll do a separate article on what sorts of “modifications” exist and what they mean in accountancy speak, but it’s not good if you get one.

It will not help if you need a loan, and it will probably trigger a lot of interest on the part of the tax inspector. But you’ll have to publish it anyway, if there isn’t time to do the remedial work a good auditor should outline to you in time for your statutory deadline.

Now auditors get cajoled, encouraged in a friendly way or even outright threatened by desparate managers and owners to overlook things or change to an opinion that doesn’t match the facts, and there is nothing that can be done in those circumstances. Auditors are not generally anywhere near as afraid of their client as they are of their regulator, but more than that we are educated throughout our professional lives to be independent in our outlook, and so the only way to get out of some modified opinions is to do the remedial work the auditor recommends or make the adjustments that they recommend.

There’s no point in changing to another auditor you think will be more pliable – they must write to the old auditor and ask if there are any reasons why they cannot act. The best thing to do, if you are not sure how well your company will stand up to an audit is to have your first one a year or so before you need to. Then if the audit shows up a lot to be desired, you have a whole year to put it right and nobody will ever know because auditors are bound by confidentiality – it isn’t us who even publish our reports, it’s the responsibility of the client. The report is given to its addressee, which is always the shareholder, and some other corporate governance boards if they are in existence.

So it’s well worth thinking about, especially if your business has been growing fast and maybe has outgrown its systems.

Let us know if we can help.

If you haven’t appointed an auditor yet in Poland and you needed to by law, here’s what can happen…


Rzeczpospolita (newspaper)
A leading business daily in Polish

An excerpt on appointment of auditors from one of the leading Polish newspapers Rzeczpospolita.

There are a few articles here on one large page, one of them dealing with what an audit report is and what it’s supposed to contain. This is anodyne and will be what you would expect from your own country, if it is in line with IFAC standards.

Another article talks about what the audit thresholds are. I’m going to write a separate article on audit thresholds comparing different countries in our region, but Poland has the fairly sensible levels of any SA, and for an Sp. z o.o. it’s 2/3 of the following: 1) Turnover 5 million Euros in the preceding year, 2) gross assets of 2.5 million Euros in the preceding year and 3) 50 employees on average in the year. The article offers a PLN interpretation of these levels for this calendar year end. I do not really want to reproduce that as not every company has calendar year and it is also not hard to work it out whether your Company in Poland has mandatory audit or not, and if you’re not sure, ask me and I’ll tell you for free.

The most interesting article in this audit related supplement, though, is probably the one which states that in line with article 64 paragraph 1 part 4 of the Act on Accounting,  if the management needs to appoint an auditor it should be in time so that he/she can observe any material inventory counts.

So what that means in practice is that you’re probably OK if you have no stock or fixed assets. If on the other hand you do have these and they were due for a count, the auditor is risking big trouble if they come in and give an opinion on the figures not having attended the count. If this is of interest in your case, please look up the much larger on that subject below.

In the worst case there will be Companies who did their stock-counts without the observance of an auditor and they later discover they need to appoint one. Three alternative things can then happen. The first is that you chance on an ethical but unhelpful auditor, who refuses to take on an audit if the stocktake is already done. If you only meet such auditors, then you won’t be able to get the audit done and you’ll be in breach of the Act if you were over the size criterion or are a joint-stock company.

The second option is where the auditor says I can do this, but later pulls a qualification on you because of not having been able to attend the counts. You then have to file an audit report which isn’t 100% clean, and then live with the fact that you may not be able to declare a dividend and that the tax office will come breathing down you necks wondering what is going in. I don’t think it’s ethical for an auditor to lead the client into taking them by not being clear that they intend from the moment they are hired to give a modified audit report, but some people seriously justify it to themselves that it’s the client’s fault for not coming early enough.

Then there is the option where the auditor is both helpful and ethical, in that they take part in other procedures designed to make good the absence of an actual attendance at the time of the stocktake. Some auditors can use their business understanding and imagination to gain the assurance they need professionally without needing to do the whole stocktake over again. You may need to shop around to find these ones. I can certainly help you find people who approach their work in that more constructive period though.

In the very worst case, you may need to do the stock take again, but beware, you cannot do that officially after one month from year end anyway, and it involves extra work on the reconciliation afterwards, which will be on the shoulders of your chief accountant.

If you’re late appointing, don’t delay it any more – that’s the moral of the story!

So you want to start a business in the Czech Republic? What do you set up, a Company or a Branch?


The main considerations are grouped under headings

LEGAL

• The scope of business of the branch may not be broader than the scope of business of the foreign entity.

• The branch must publish the financial statements of the foreign company in the registry of documents kept by the Commercial Register, which effectively means getting the whole report of the company the branch is part of and translating it into Czech, and publicising it even if the accounts were not liable to be made public in the jurisdiction of the Company.

ACCOUNTING

• In general the same statutory obligations apply for both branch and legal entity from accounting and financial reporting point of view, i.e. every corporate entity doing business in Czech Republic must keep the books in Czech language and must file the financial statements to the Commercial Register.

• The only difference we can see is that the statutory financial statements of branch are to be incorporated into the statutory accounts of the founder whereas in case of legal entity financial statements stands alone and the financial asset (i.e. investment in the subsidiary) is to be shown in the accounts of the parent company.  Branches do not really have separate equity, as they are not legal persons, but in order for the balance sheet to balance the capital employed needs to be shown as if they were, on a pro-forma basis. Likewise purchases of goods by the branch from the company it is part of is legal nonsense, as there is no tranfer of ownership to a branch, but still in order to give a picture of the performance of the branch as well as to be above board with regard to international transfer pricing, again branch accounts should be done with these intra-company “sales” and “purchases” included as pro forma. Remember that the branch has its own tax life in the country where it is.

AUDIT

• The same statutory obligations apply for both branch and legal entity to have its accounts audited.

• The general rules are as follows:

1) joint stock companies One of the following criterions is met for two consecutive accounting periods: a) gross assets of 40.000K CZK b) revenues of 80.000K CZK c) average number of employees over 50.

2) other legal entities (limited liability companies, branches, etc.) Two of three above criterions are met for two consecutive accounting periods.

 TAX

• From the Czech corporate taxation point of view the branch must register for corporate income tax only if having taxable income in the Czech Republic through a permanent establishment, the legal entity must register in any case.

• In case of the branch the income and costs need to be allocated to branch activities, however keeping in mind transfer pricing and substance-over-form principle that are applicable under both structures, i.e. under both branch and legal entity constructs.

• Profits/losses will be included in profits of the founder of the branch taking into consideration double taxation reliefs.

• From the VAT perspective in case of the branch the VAT payer is actually the headquarter that has Czech VAT registration while in case of the legal entity it is actually the entity itself being Czech VAT payer.

• Profit repatriation in the case of the legal entity must be taken into account, however, if the parent company being an EU entity with more than 10% shareholding for more than 12 months dividend payments are tax exempt.

  Subsidiary Branch
Tax registration obligatory Only if taxable income from sources in the Czech Republic
Tax at operational level 19% CIT 19% CIT
Tax at parent/headquarter level in respect of subsidiary’/branch’s profits Participation exemption or tax credit (in cases of dividend distribution) Tax rate of the headquarter (note: double taxation relief ® participation exemption or tax credit)
Withholding tax (dividend, interest, royalties) Often (note: EC Directives and tax treaties) Rarely
Loss settlement with foreign parent company/headquarter In principle no Yes (unless exempt under headquarters’ domestic tax law)
Liability debt (claims) at operational level Local operating company (=subsidiary) Headquarter

The above was based on the amiable co-operation of TGC Corporate Lawyers and Baker Tilly sro in Prague and Brno.