Your Handy Guide to Accounting Terminology

Struggling to understand all those acronyms? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a cheat sheet to help you make sense of the common terms used by accountants when discussing compliance, explained in plain English.

Accounting Jargon

ACRA – Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority

This is the main regulatory body overseeing compliance matters for all companies in Singapore.

AGM – Annual General Meeting

A meeting attended by shareholders and directors, which is a requirement for all Singapore companies unless specifically waived by resolution. Companies must submit their financial statements as part of the AGM process. Here are some key guidelines for these meetings:

  • The first AGM should be held within 18 months of the company’s incorporation.
  • Subsequent AGMs must be held within 15 months of each other.
  • Financial statements presented during the AGM should not be more than 6 months old.
  • Private companies can choose not to have an AGM if all shareholders pass a resolution to forgo it.

Annual return

  • Submission to: ACRA
  • Deadline: within 1 month of your AGM

The annual return is a record of the company’s activities in the past year, submitted to ACRA. It should include the following information:

  • Details of company officers
  • Company financial report or declaration of solvency for exempt companies
  • Financial statements
  • Registered addresses
  • Auditors (if applicable)

Audited financial statements

  • Submission to: ACRA
  • Deadline: after preparing financial statements (if required)

If your Singapore company meets any two of the following three conditions, you will need to have your financial statements audited:

  • Total yearly revenue of S$10 million or more
  • Total assets of S$10 million or more
  • 50 or more employees

Additionally, if your company is part of a group, the audit will be based on the financial standing of the entire group, not just the individual company.

ECI – Estimate of Chargeable Income

  • Submission to: IRAS
  • Deadline: within 3 months of the end of the financial year

ECI is an estimation of a company’s taxable income. Every company must file an ECI, except when the annual revenue is less than $5 million and the ECI is nil for the assessment year.

IRAS – Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore

This is the government authority responsible for tax compliance for companies in Singapore.


XBRL is a reporting language used for financial statements. With the assistance of an accountant, you can prepare your financial statements and then use a tool like BizFinx (provided by ACRA) to convert the data into XBRL format for submission.

For more information on XBRL and whether you need to file using it, you can contact us or find more details on the ACRA website.

Note: If your company has a corporate shareholder, you must comply with XBRL filing requirements.

Tax Jargon

Form C

  • Submission to: IRAS
  • Deadline: November 30 (or December 15 for e-filing)

Form C is the Income Declaration form that all companies need to submit to IRAS. Smaller companies often use Form C-S instead (see below).

Form C-S

  • Submission to: IRAS
  • Deadline: November 30 (or December 15 for e-filing)

Form C-S is a simplified version of Form C, used as an alternative. You can use this form if your company meets the following conditions:

  • Incorporated in Singapore
  • Annual income less than $5 million
  • Not claiming certain items: carry back of current year capital allowances/losses, group relief, investment allowance, or foreign tax credit.

GST – Goods and Services Tax

  • Submission to: IRAS
  • Deadline: Every quarter

GST, also known as Value-Added Tax (VAT) in other countries, requires companies registered for GST to file their GST return. All figures must be reported in SGD, and IRAS provides guidelines for filing when transactions involve foreign currency.

Even if your company has no transactions in a particular quarter, you still need to file a nil return by entering ‘0’ in all boxes.

Payroll Jargon

CPF – Central Provident Fund

CPF is a mandatory benefit fund provided to Singaporeans and Singaporean Permanent Residents. If you employ a Singaporean or Singaporean Permanent Resident with a monthly wage exceeding $50, you must make compulsory CPF contributions. Contribution rates vary based on the employee’s income and age.

FWL – Foreign Worker Levy

As an employer, you are not required to pay CPF contributions for foreign workers. However, you must pay a monthly levy for Work Permit and S Pass holders through General Interbank Recurring Order (GIRO).

SDL – Skills Development Levy

SDL is a compulsory cost for employers hiring full-time, part-time, temporary, casual, or foreign employees. The funds collected are used to support workforce upgrading programs and provide training grants to companies when their employees undergo training.

Employers must contribute up to the first $4,500 of each employee’s total monthly wages at a levy rate of 0.25% or a minimum of $2 (for total wages of $800 or less), whichever is higher. You can pay SDL along with your employees’ monthly CPF contributions or directly to the SkillsFuture Singapore Agency.

Some exemptions apply to certain employee categories like chauffeurs and domestic helpers.

If you’re seeking high-quality accounting services for your Singapore company, we at RMS are more than happy to assist you in getting started!

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