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Errors in Financial Statements: Comprehensive Approach as a Way to Success

24/ 03/ 2021
  Oksana Chukhray, Accountant Expert at Accountor Ukraine Tetiana Sheremet, Tax Expert of Accountor Ukraine Finding errors in the accounting records of a company is always an unpleasant surprise. But the very fact of discovering an error on your own, before the arrival of a tax inspection, can already be considered lucky. We at Accountor Ukraine will help you find the ways to repair these omissions. After the tax reform implementation of May 2020, the authorities have been paying special attention to intentions – e.g., article 109.1 of the TCU was supplemented as follows: “ Acts are considered to have been committed intentionally if there are circumstances proved by the controlling body, indicating that the taxpayer intentionally, purposefully created conditions that can have no other purpose than non-compliance or improper compliance with the requirements”, and the punishments for violations were increased. However, there is not information about the criteria for assessing whether violations are intentional, and it is obvious that without them, any discovered error or inaccuracy can be deemed “intentional”. Thus, the issue of correcting mistakes in accounting records is now more important than it has ever before. What normative acts define the concept of error in Ukrainian legislation? National Accounting Standards (further – NAS) # 1, clause 3.3. “Financial statement must be accurate. The information provided in the financial statements is reliable if it does not contain errors and misstatements that could influence the decision of users of the statements. NAS # 6, clauses 4 and “The errors must be corrected “by adjusting the balance of retained earnings at the beginning of the reporting year if such errors affect the amount of retained earnings (uncovered loss)” and “correcting errors related to previous periods requires re-reflecting the corresponding comparative information in the financial statements”. Of course, this information is not sufficient for writing a clear action plan, so let us start with systematizing the errors according to the following criteria: 1) Materiality Thresholds Each company establishes their own materiality thresholds based on their economic activities and prescribes these thresholds in the accounting policies. This approach is regulated by Methodology recommendation # 635, which states that: Material information is the information the absence of which may affect the decision of users of financial statements. Meanwhile, there are no legislative acts that would permit not to correct errors if they are under the materiality threshold. Therefore, this criterion must be regarded objectively, and all possible consequences must be understood. 2) Prior Period Errors vs. Current Period Errors It is not worth focusing on the errors from the current period before financial statements are filed, as there is a clear algorithm: changes are made and the correct data is then reflected.   Meanwhile, with prior periods, the situation gets more complicated, and errors must be assessed based on their influence on the financial result of the prior periods. If the errors did not lead to a change in the financial result of prior periods: An accounting statement must be issued which must contain full description of the nature of the error in the month of detection; and, as prescribed by NAS # 6, the financial statements of prior periods must be changed as if there had been no errors. The correct indicators must be reflected in the current financial statements. Information about error corrections must be indicated in the Notes to the financial statements. If errors led to a change in the financial result of prior periods: An accounting statement must be issued which must contain full description of the nature of the error in the month of detection; Error corrections of prior periods can be displayed via account 44 Retained Earnings (Uncovered Losses) along with the corresponding accounts, as indicated in Letters of the Ministry of Finance # N 31-34000-10-10/36311 of 12/30/2009 and # 31-08410-07-29 / 21303 of 17.07.2013. Corrected financial statements must be drawn up for the year in which the error occurred, in accordance with NAS # 6. The correct indicators must be reflected in the current financial statements. The fact that an error has been corrected must be indicated in the Notes to the current financial statements. 3) Effects of errors on the financial statements of the company and on the Corporate Income Tax Declaration (Single Tax Declaration). If the error affects the financial statements and the declaration: In this case, the corrected financial statements and the declaration must be submitted to the tax office - the sooner, the better, because this will reduce the accrued penalty in case of increase in the companys financial result. Also, in accordance with paragraph 46.4 of the Tax Code, if necessary, companies may submit an explanation of the changes made to the tax declaration. The error affects the financial statements and does not affect the data in the declaration. Due to the fact that financial statements are an annex to the Income Tax Declaration, tax authorities in this situation stress that both reports must be submitted. Payers of the Single tax, however, can avoid the need to submit the declaration again if was unaffected. The error affects the financial statements and does not affect the data in the declaration. In this case, the tax authorities allow not to submit the financial statements again along with the Adjustment Declaration. However, when submitting an Adjustment declaration, it is necessary to put a “+” mark in the “ФЗ” cell and describe the reporting package filed earlier. We at Accountor Ukraine are sure, that any problem can always be solved. And in this case, there is a clear action plan and there are ways to minimize the consequences and learn a lesson in order to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

Oksana Chukhray, Accountant Expert at Accountor Ukraine

Tetiana Sheremet, Tax Expert of Accountor Ukraine

Finding errors in the accounting records of a company is always an unpleasant surprise. But the very fact of discovering an error on your own, before the arrival of a tax inspection, can already be considered lucky. We at Accountor Ukraine will help you find the ways to repair these omissions.

After the tax reform implementation of May 2020, the authorities have been paying special attention to “intentions” – e.g., article 109.1 of the TCU was supplemented as follows: “ Acts are considered to have been committed intentionally if there are circumstances proved by the controlling body, indicating that the taxpayer intentionally, purposefully created conditions that can have no other purpose than non-compliance or improper compliance with the requirements”, and the punishments for violations were increased.

However, there is not information about the criteria for assessing whether violations are “intentional”, and it is obvious that without them, any discovered error or inaccuracy can be deemed “intentional”. Thus, the issue of correcting mistakes in accounting records is now more important than it has ever before.

What normative acts define the concept of “error” in Ukrainian legislation?

  • National Accounting Standards (further – NAS) # 1, clause 3.3.

“Financial statement must be accurate. The information provided in the financial statements is reliable if it does not contain errors and misstatements that could influence the decision of users of the statements.

  • NAS # 6, clauses 4 and

“The errors must be corrected “by adjusting the balance of retained earnings at the beginning of the reporting year if such errors affect the amount of retained earnings (uncovered loss)” and “correcting errors related to previous periods requires re-reflecting the corresponding comparative information in the financial statements”.

Of course, this information is not sufficient for writing a clear action plan, so let us start with systematizing the errors according to the following criteria:

1) Materiality Thresholds

Each company establishes their own materiality thresholds based on their economic activities and prescribes these thresholds in the accounting policies. This approach is regulated by Methodology recommendation # 635, which states that: “Material information is the information the absence of which may affect the decision of users of financial statements.” Meanwhile, there are no legislative acts that would permit not to correct errors if they are under the materiality threshold. Therefore, this criterion must be regarded objectively, and all possible consequences must be understood.

2) Prior Period Errors vs. Current Period Errors

It is not worth focusing on the errors from the current period before financial statements are filed, as there is a clear algorithm: changes are made and the correct data is then reflected.  

Meanwhile, with prior periods, the situation gets more complicated, and errors must be assessed based on their influence on the financial result of the prior periods.

If the errors did not lead to a change in the financial result of prior periods:

  • An accounting statement must be issued which must contain full description of the nature of the error in the month of detection; and, as prescribed by NAS # 6, the financial statements of prior periods must be changed as if there had been no errors.
  • The correct indicators must be reflected in the current financial statements.
  • Information about error corrections must be indicated in the Notes to the financial statements.

If errors led to a change in the financial result of prior periods:

  • An accounting statement must be issued which must contain full description of the nature of the error in the month of detection;
  • Error corrections of prior periods can be displayed via account 44 “Retained Earnings (Uncovered Losses)” along with the corresponding accounts, as indicated in Letters of the Ministry of Finance # N 31-34000-10-10/36311 of 12/30/2009 and # 31-08410-07-29 / 21303 of 17.07.2013.
  • Corrected financial statements must be drawn up for the year in which the error occurred, in accordance with NAS # 6.
  • The correct indicators must be reflected in the current financial statements.
  • The fact that an error has been corrected must be indicated in the Notes to the current financial statements.

3) Effects of errors on the financial statements of the company and on the Corporate Income Tax Declaration (Single Tax Declaration).

  • If the error affects the financial statements and the declaration:

In this case, the corrected financial statements and the declaration must be submitted to the tax office – the sooner, the better, because this will reduce the accrued penalty in case of increase in the company’s financial result. Also, in accordance with paragraph 46.4 of the Tax Code, if necessary, companies may submit an explanation of the changes made to the tax declaration.

  • The error affects the financial statements and does not affect the data in the declaration.

Due to the fact that financial statements are an annex to the Income Tax Declaration, tax authorities in this situation stress that both reports must be submitted. Payers of the Single tax, however, can avoid the need to submit the declaration again if was unaffected.

  • The error affects the financial statements and does not affect the data in the declaration.

In this case, the tax authorities allow not to submit the financial statements again along with the Adjustment Declaration. However, when submitting an Adjustment declaration, it is necessary to put a “+” mark in the “ФЗ” cell and describe the reporting package filed earlier.

We at Accountor Ukraine are sure, that any problem can always be solved. And in this case, there is a clear action plan and there are ways to minimize the consequences and learn a lesson in order to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

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