[Based on Client’s Life Experience]

When it comes to arranging accounts & audit works for your business, many people may think: I still have plenty of time! Is that really true? According to our experience, if the entrepreneurs (especially expats) didn’t have any preparation beforehand and suddenly received their first Profits Tax Return from the HK Inland Revenue Department (IRD), they might feel panic for having 3 months only to finish all financial work - 3 months could be long, but could also be too short, here’s a case sharing from one of our friends that you might be interested to hear. 

His name is Willis (alias), a smart start-up founder coming from Australia. Yes, he is astute in nurturing his fast-growing online tech business, but he has zero concept of local accounts and tax system, and didn’t pay much attention to how to consolidate his corporate financial records in a neat and so-called proper way all along. He faced some challenges after a talk with his friends...

 

 

One night he was at a pub during happy hour, and he remembered clearly it was before the HKSAR Establishment Day holiday. He was about to grab a few drinks with his buddies, who are all start-up newbies here. They chatted and suddenly Willis recalled one thing - it looked he had just received a green letter from the IRD that afternoon and his friends reminded him that should be his very first Profits Tax Return, for he had formed his business in HK for nearly 1.5 year already.

 

WHAT to Prepare?

Since that time he had no clue at all on how or what to prepare for this tax filing, he then actively seek help from his peers group, but the things were not that straightforward. He knew he should start with getting all accounting records ready with his sales invoices, expense bills, receipts, shipping documents, all bank statements, etc., even it's already a year behind. At first he thought it should be quite easy as there are so many accounting report templates online - would not be that hard to find suitable ones to fit in his bookkeeping entries. Then, along the preparation process, his questions popped up one after another.

For instance, he thought his first prepared accounting records were quite good already, or at least this draft had a good direction to base on and follow (for which he really spent some time to figure out what entry should be put and how to put), then, he realized there were so many more of his business entries in different categories he needed to add further, and some of them were quite vague to define where to put, such as how to define which one is cost and which one is expense, and he knew if he put the entry wrong, the impact on his tax computation figures could be quite large.

 

HOW to Be Well Prepared?

However, the puzzle is yet to solve. When he came to us in last July and showed us his accounts records, he finally recognised what he had prepared were far from the standard. We immediately let him know by submitting these self prepared records, the auditor can’t really process the auditing procedure, since it is a requisite for them to receive the full set of accounting records including Profit & Loss Accounts, Balance Sheet, General Ledger, Trial Balance, etc. for assessment and preparation of audit reports in the legitimate and proper format. Plus he might need to carry out a stock take as well for his tech device inventories. 

At that moment he noticed he really need an experienced local accounting advisor to guide him through, especially for the first year accounts. It proved worthwhile to spend a few thousands (here please find the rate) to get things done without the hassles. As a start-up who has been doing business for just about a year, everything is so new and he rather put more of his resources in developing his business, instead of consolidating the accounting entries for which a professional could do way better and more efficient than him. And he found out when the accounting records and audit report structure are well built, it will become an important foundation for him to execute his tax efficiency plan in the financial reports when his firm starts to make good profits at a later stage. Not to mention he will be reminded of his HK tax filing dates by the agency and he can be hands-off with these trivial issues.

 

WHAT Is the Role of a Professional?

Yes, reminding our clients to meet their tax reporting deadlines is one of our jobs, yet what we can do is much more than that. Typically we will suggest our clients to appoint the same proficient firm for handling all accounts & audit works, as well as the tax compliance part. Not only this will help improve the consistency and tidiness of the reports, but also let the advisor provide possible solution on tax computation and optimization, given that the advisor has already gone through your financial statements and known well of your accounting & audit report structure. For example, how would the handling treatment be different for a company generating profits in HK, China or from offshore places? 

Tax filing is inevitable for every entrepreneur - there could be a chunk of documents you have to deal with at the last minute if you didn’t plan early, and this could become a disaster at last. On the contrary, as a wise business person you should always start it earlier to fit the local compliance requirements. Even if your invoices and expense bills are kind of messy, we will give you precise advice and teach you how to prepare the full set of documents based on our provided checklist. Also, BRIDGES is recognized in the market for what we submit to the auditor is very neat, thanks to our internal team who will organise your documents with great caution and file them properly after you have passed to us. For offshore business owners, we will assist you in communicating with the IRD for submitting your ‘offshore claims’ if we found your firm is eligible to apply, details please refer here. You can always go back to us and look for our accountant’s prompt advice on your accounts or tax queries.

This first step in dealing with the accounting work of your business - could be troublesome, but could also be stress-relieving, depends on which path you opt for. Unquestionably when you have found a reliable yet cost-effective firm familiar with local compliance to handle all your duties from head to toe, you can put more resources and time in focusing on your business development and growth. Any questions on how to kickstart your own accounting work, please feel free to drop us a private message and our in-house accounting and tax compliance team, providing advice not just coming from factual knowledge but also over 10 years of frontline experience in this field, will address your queries straightway and walk you through the whole preparation and submission timeline.

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While Hong Kong remains the most economically free city out of hundred of countries, most savvy businessmen would equip themselves to be able to play around within the ‘rules’ and make the most of it. Also, sometimes troubles just came without any signs. In view of this, a free legal consultation session targeting start-ups / SMEs arranged by our experienced solicitor partner is now on BRIDGES. Sounds attractive, huh?

 

 

How Is It Helping?

Making good use of the free legal consultation will turn out to save a whole-lot of time for you. You wouldn’t want to waste your time while you are dealing with arduous legal matters, and all you hoped for is to get the right attorney as quickly as possible. But how do you know if you get the right candidate? We think a free consultation could definitely help you decide whether the attorney is capable to address your needs, plus you will get a brief idea of how to handle your case with some useful information that you need.

 

What’s in It for Me?

Legal affairs could be a shield or a spear to your business. By having a competent attorney who can help you address your legal matters timely and efficiently, you can sit back and find peace of mind that your issues are in good hands. Sometimes the attorney may even be able to help set a strong “shield” to protect your business in advance so you can constantly move faster than your rivals.

 

Come register a free legal consultation arrangement with us HERE. Opportunity is yours to take!

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Trademark is crucial not only in today’s world. Did you know the 1st trademark users are Romans who need  a ™ for their swords?

 

Everyone talks about ™, is it really necessary? A REAL need?

Getting a trademark for your business or not is definitely a personal choice but we have to say sometimes your business name or appearance of your product is probably one of the most valuable assets for you. In this blog we will walk you through what trademark can do for your company and the workflow + tips of trademark application in HK. Ready for safeguarding your names / products that could be the swords of your company?

 

 

What Can Trademark Do for You?

Trademark, the mark “™” is usually used for distinguishing products and services of a particular company / an individual owner from those of others in the market.

Yet, bear in mind that the HK Companies Registry and HK Trade Marks Registry are 2 different authorities. Some of my clients would often get confused with these two departments but I have always reminded them having the company registered does not mean it would automatically register for your trademark or you will be entitled to any trademark rights.

In other words, if you would like to enjoy the exclusive right to use your company’s name or logo, it is inevitable to get a trademark, by which you can use it in relation to the products / services / inventions of yours and it will save you a lot of hassles when your products or services provision get more popular in time. Actually some clients might come to me late (they just ignored this part from the start and suddenly remembered after a couple of years of the incorporation), then found out their business / product name has already been taken by others in their preferred category (i.e. a class of trademark, like machine tools; cooking; telecommunications; etc.) and so they couldn’t register in that category now. It is cruel to see how the businesses may have just ignored the importance of trademark and suffered from the plagiarising behaviour at the end, realising they should have taken this step earlier. We hope you are not one of those who paid a huge cost here.

Talking about the exclusive trademark right, many people may mix up “™” and  “®”. Generally, the “™” symbol can be used either or not the trademark is registered.  But the “®” symbol means this trademark is a registered one, and you are entitled to the exclusive trademark right provided by the Trade Marks Registry. In other words, by obtaining this right, your company can then apply the “®” symbol next to your company’s name or logo as an identification. You can take legal actions against any parties that violate the trademark law, such as using your trademark without your consent / agreement. This could set a firewall from anyone who may be tempted to take your trademark’s benefits (could be company name, products, inventions, ideas, etc).

 

Be the First-Mover in Your Market?

Moreover, having a trademark can also be a first-mover advantage for your company, for you can easily dominate the market if you have a newly-invented product or service. Any newcomers would then be hard to get an identical trademark anytime soon. In essence, it gives you a chance to become the market leader if you act quickly with the trademark registration.

To share some latest trends with you, according to our experience, if a HK company owns a registered trademark, it will become a whole lot easier to cooperate with her mainland China partners because those Chinese companies tend to believe you are a reputable company and they are willing to pay extra for your products / services, which makes the whole trademark registration very worthwhile as it just costs you less than HK$100 per month for owning the 10-years trademark right.

 

Easy-to-Prepare Materials for Registration

Before kicking off the registration, simply provide us with 4 basic information below:-

• The trademark you would like to register graphically

• What products / services are to be covered by this trademark? (i.e. the trademark class, like food for babies; hygienic and beauty care; etc.)

• Would you like an official search / non-official search first? (such a search is for ensuring your trademark is available for registration)

• Information of the trademark’s owner

Simple as that!

 

Just 5 Steps for HK Trademark Registration

Trademark registration sounds complicated yet it is not as hard as you thought. Just pass us the above 4 materials, and our experienced advisor will guide you step by step throughout the whole process, whether you are a local or overseas firm. Here we’ll give you some ideas about the steps:-

1. File the Application

Gather all necessary information of your product / creations / services and we will assist you in submitting the application. Generally the whole application procedure can take as little as 6 months.

2. Deficiencies Checking

The Trade Marks Registry will conduct a thorough check on the application and provided documents. The authority will get in touch with us if further information is required.

3. Search and Examination

The Trade Marks Registry will then perform a proper search to see if any identical or similar trademark has already been registered. The authority will also review and see if the submitted trademark is proper and fits the Trademark Ordinance’s requirements.

4. Objections (There might or might not be one)

If anyhow the requirements are not met, the Trade Marks Registry has the authority to object the application. Yet, applicants are granted with 6 months for amendments in order to meet the requirements.

5. Registration

Once your trademark has been accepted for registration, it will be published in the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Journal. If no opposition by a 3rd party is made, the Trade Marks Registry will enter your trademark into the trademarks register and you will be issued with a certificate of registration, meanwhile the notice of the registration will be published in the Journal too. As the owner of a registered trademark, your rights take effect from the filing date of the application, which allow you to use for 10 years.

 

Finally, How to Make Your Trademark Stand Out?

A trademark is not simply a company or business name, it can be a group of elements joined together like logo, image, symbol, etc. Now we are going to give you some hints on creating a distinctive trademark:-

- Be creative, you have to put a little effort into thinking about the uniqueness of your trademark, for instance, in food industry, using “MEAT FOOD” instead of “MEET FOOD” would give the Trade Marks Registry a huge reason to object your application since the chance of getting a similar trademark is massive.

- No description on the products in terms of quantity or quality like “100 Chicken Wings” or “Quality Chicken Wings”.

- No geographical name like “Milano Fashion”.

- Use your invented product name would be the best since as it would most likely be innovative.

 

If you are not sure whether you are having a trademark idea similar with others, come check with us, I am Cherry from the Trademark Team and I will apply my expertise to help you speed up and ease up the application process. It would be my great pleasure to walk you through how to make it done and give you my instant answers to smoothen your journey.

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