By Himanshu Joshi, Dezan Shira & Associates
Jun. 12 – For any foreign executive operating in India it is beneficial to have a basic understanding of audit procedures in India. We have previously introduced audit in India for non-auditors. In this article, we will provide an overview of the different types of audit and audit reporting in India.
Audits are generally classified into two types:
- Statutory Audits
- Internal Audits
Statutory audits are conducted in order to report the state of a company’s finances and accounts to the Indian government. Such audits are performed by qualified auditors who are working as external and independent parties. The audit report of a statutory audit is made in the form prescribed by the government agency.
Internal audits are conducted at the bequest of internal management in order to check the health of a company’s finances, and analyze operational efficiency of the organization. Internal audits may be performed by an independent party or by the company’s own internal staff.
In India, every company whose shares are registered on the stock exchange must have an internal auditing system in place. For a company whose shares are not listed on the stock exchange, but whose average turnover during the previous three years exceeds INR5 crore, or whose share capital and reserves at the beginning of the financial year exceeds INR50 lakh, must have an internal auditing system in place. The statutory auditor of the company must report on the internal auditing system of the company in the audit report.
Statutory Audits in India
In India, statutory audits are conducted for each fiscal year (April 1 to March 31) and not the calendar year. The two most common types of statutory audits in India are:
- Tax Audits
- Company Audits
Tax audits are required under Section 44AB of India’s Income Tax Act 1961. This section mandates that every person whose business turnover exceeds INR1 crore and every person working in a profession with gross receipts exceeding INR25 lakh must have their accounts audited by an independent chartered accountant.
It should be noted that the provision of tax audits are applicable to everyone, be it an individual, a partnership firm, a company or any other entity. The tax audit report is to be obtained by September 30 after the end of the previous fiscal year. Non-compliance with the tax audit provisions may attract a penalty of 0.5 percent of turnover or INR1 lakh, whichever is lower.
There are no specific rules regarding the appointment or removal of a tax auditor.
The provisions for a company audit are contained in the Companies Act 1956. Every company, irrespective of its nature of business or turnover, must have its annual accounts audited each financial year. For this purpose, the company and its directors have to first appoint an auditor at the outset. Thereafter, at each annual general meeting (AGM), an auditor is appointed by the shareholders of the company who will hold the position from one AGM to the conclusion of the next AGM.
The new Companies Bill 2012 provides that an auditor shall be appointed for a term of five consecutive AGMs. Individuals and partnership firms, auditors cannot be appointed for more than one or two terms, respectively. After the completion of the term, the auditor must be changed.
Only an independent chartered accountant or a partnership firm of chartered accountants can be appointed as the auditor of a company. The following persons are specifically disqualified from becoming an auditor per the Companies Act:
- A body corporate;
- An officer or employee of the company;
- A person who is partner with an employee of the company or employee of an employee of the company;
- Any person who is indebted to a company for a sum exceeding INR1,000 or who have guaranteed to the company on behalf of another person a sum exceeding INR1,000; or
- A person who has held any securities in the company after one year from the date of commencement of the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2000.
The auditor is required to prepare the audit report in accordance with the Company Auditor’s Report Order (CARO) 2003. CARO requires an auditor to report on various aspects of the company, such as fixed assets, inventories, internal audit standards, internal controls, statutory dues, among others.
The audit report must be obtained before holding the AGM, which itself should be held within six months from the end of the financial year.
Audits are conducted to express a true and fair view of a company’s financial statements. Therefore, the auditor’s opinion expressed in the ultimate report is based on the information reviewed and analyzed during the verification of financial statements. Upon completing the report, the auditor may express one of the following four opinions:
- Unqualified Opinion
- Qualified Opinion
- Disclaimer of Opinion
- Adverse Opinion
An unqualified opinion is expressed when the auditor concludes that the financial statements give a true and fair view in accordance with the financial reporting framework used for the preparation and presentation of the financial statements. It indicates that:
- Generally accepted accounting principles are consistently applied in the preparation of financial statements;
- Financial statements comply with the relevant statutory requirements and regulations; and
- There is adequate disclosure of all material matters relevant to the proper presentation of financial information (subject to statutory requirements).
A qualified opinion is expressed when the auditor concludes that an unqualified opinion cannot be expressed, but that the effect of any disagreement with management is not so material and pervasive as to require an adverse opinion, or the limitation of scope is not so material and pervasive as to require a disclaimer of opinion. A qualified opinion should be expressed as being “subject to’” or “except for” the effects of the matter to which the qualification relates.
Disclaimer of Opinion
A disclaimer of opinion is expressed when the possible effect of a limitation on scope is so material and pervasive that the auditor has not been able to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence and is, therefore, unable to express an opinion on the financial statements.
An adverse opinion is expressed when the effect of a disagreement is so material and pervasive to the financial statements that the auditor concludes that a qualification of the report is not adequate to disclose the misleading or incomplete nature of the financial statements.
This article was originally published in the India Briefing Magazine, titled “An Introduction to Audit in India.” In this issue, we examine how India’s accounting standards differ from the globally accepted IFRS and IAS protocols, and outline the standard steps and procedures an Indian auditor will go through during the audit process and explain pre-audit preparations that can be carried out to make the process easier to follow and understand for foreign executives.
Dezan Shira & Associates is a specialist foreign direct investment practice, providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in emerging Asia. Since its establishment in 1992, the firm has grown into one of Asia’s most versatile full-service consultancies with operational offices across China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore and Vietnam as well as liaison offices in Italy and the United States.
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An Introduction to Doing Business in India
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