The new accounting standards framework - Part 3 - For-Profit Entities

Now we climb onto the other, somewhat more awkward branch of the Standards tree. As noted above, an entity may be publicly accountable and also for-profit rather than for public benefit - for example banks, insurance and superannuation providers, publicly listed companies and others that trade debt or equity instruments to the public.

These entities are by default Tier 1, required to comply with full NZ IFRS standards. Also, as per the PBEs anything with expenditure of over $30 million will fall into this tier, whether publicly accountable or not, captured by their sheer economic weight.

Tier 2 - How large is large?

Also similarly to the PBE branch, Tier 2 to 4 are only to be applied to non-publicly accountable entities, but the size criteria are a little more complex, and some other factors are considered. Where for Tier 1 economic impact is measured in terms of expenditure, to be in Tier 2 uses a definition of size based on a combination of revenue and assets. A further complexity is that the thresholds for assets and revenue differ depending on whether the Company (and these are likely to be companies) are NZ or overseas owned.

To be “large” in terms of Tier 2, a locally owned entity must have assets exceeding $60 million or revenue exceeding $30 million. These thresholds must be reached at the balance date of each of the 2 preceding accounting periods to apply. The thresholds for an overseas owned company are lower - presumably because there is perceived to be a higher risk. Assets exceeding $20 million or revenue exceeding $10 million at balance date of each of the 2 preceding accounting periods will trigger the “large” switch in this case.

That’s not all though… if the entity is not large in the terms above but has 10 or more shareholders it is also caught in Tier 2 - unless 95% of the shareholders agree to opt out. Phew! Remember that as with PBE entities, regardless of size and type, FPE’s will by default go into the Tier 1 bin unless they elect to adopt another category.

Tier 3 and 4 - the other 90%

So Tier 3 and 4 are for the remainder and it seems that the idea is that the status quo is to be maintained for these smaller/exempt entities (estimated up to 90% of companies) in the meantime.  

Tier 3 may use “old” NZ IFRS Differential (hardly old!), and Tier 4 may use “old” GAAP - our FRS’s and SSAP’s - some of which are genuinely showing their age. The difference between Tier 3 and 4 is the requirement for these entities to file financial statements, but this will become irrelevant after 1 April 2015. After that these may use NZ IFRS RDR or it seems that so long as IRD and internal management requirements are met they will be free to do what works best for them. 

In effect this means that most from periods beginning 1 April 2015 most small NZ companies, partnerships and sole traders will not need to prepare financial statements that comply with General Purpose Accounting Principles (GAAP). This doesn’t mean no financial statements are required - of course IRD requires and banks need helpful information. NZICA has issued some optional guidelines

Is an audit required?

Tier 1 entities always require audit, which makes sense, as do "large" overseas companies that are Tier 2. "Large" local companies in terms of Tier 2 may opt out of Audit, as can smaller Tier 3 and 4 entities with 10 or more shareholders. Under 10 shareholders may opt in to be audited. 

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