HOW TO DRAFT FINANCIAL STATEMENTS ACCORDING TO THE DUTCH ACCOUNTING STANDARDS
The Netherlands offers a highly developed environment for corporations, partnerships and privately owned businesses. An important element of the Dutch corporate regime concerns the preparation, publication, and auditing of the company’s financial statements.
The exact requirements for Dutch companies depend on the size of the company, or it’s a corporate structure (for example, if a Dutch company is part of a Listed Company).
INCO has written several articles about requirements that each entrepreneur should consider, such as:
The requirement, by company law, to prepare a Financial Report (see below)
Financial Reporting requirements in the Netherlands
Virtually every corporate entity, which is incorporated by Dutch law, has the obligation to prepare a financial report.
A foreign company (not incorporated by Dutch law) is obliged to file its annual accounts in its home country, however, is also required to file a copy at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. In general, a branch is not required to prepare its own financial report.
The relevance of a Financial Report
The Financial Report has several purposes, and plays, therefore, an important role in Dutch corporate governance:
The primary function of the financial report is reporting to the shareholders. The shareholders are supposed to discharge the board of directors for their performance upon acceptance of the financial report.
Creditor protection; Virtually every corporate entity has the obligation to register itself in the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce and to publish certain financial data on an annual basis. The Trade Register is accessible by the public and is thus an important source of information in the Dutch market place.
Tax purposes; Although the tax laws have their own independent rules to determine the taxable basis, the financial statements are basically always the starting point.
Needless to say, there is a great responsibility for the directors to ensure that the financial report is prepared correctly, timely, and filed accordingly.
Accounting principles in the Netherlands
The financial report must contain at least:
a balance sheet
a profit and loss account, and
notes to the accounts.
The accounting principles require that financial information must be understandable, relevant, reliable and comparable. The financial statements should properly reflect the company’s position in accordance with these principles.
The balance sheet and profit and loss account together with the notes, should present fairly and consistently the shareholders’ equity at the balance sheet date and the profit for the year and if possible should present the company’s solvability and liquidity.
Companies that are part of an international group may prepare their financial statements in accordance with accepted accounting standards in another EU member state, provided that reference thereto is made in the notes.
The accounting principles must be set out in the financial statements. These principles, once implemented, may only be changed if there are good reasons for such a change. In case of a change, the reasons for this change and its effect on the financial position must be disclosed in the notes. Dutch legislation provides for specific valuation and disclosure requirements, which should be complied with.
For ‘small’ companies there is no need to involve an auditor/accountant to prepare the financial report. This means that the company could even draft the financial report herself, or involve a bookkeeper to provide support in this. INCO provides inhouse bookkeeping services, and works with external accountants and auditors when required.
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