Do you want to know more about the annual accounts?

Most companies are familiar with the concept of annual accounts, also referred to as the annual financial statements. And a good thing too, because for many of them, the annual deposit of accounts is a legal obligation they cannot, or cannot easily, avoid. The financial statements are an important and interesting document for both owners and business partners, because the content reflects how the company is doing.

What are annual accounts?

At the end of each financial year (12 months, usually starting on January 1), the company draws up a financial report: the annual accounts. In terms of content, the annual accounts always consist of the following four parts: the balance sheet, income statement, remarks and the social balance sheet. Stakeholders such as shareholders, investors, customers, banks, etc. read the annual accounts.

What are consolidated financial statements?

De geconsolideerde jaarrekening heeft als doel een overzicht te bieden van de economische activiteit, het eigen vermogen en de resultaten van de volledige vennootschap met elk zijn eigen juridische entiteit, maar afhankelijk van hetzelfde beslissingscentrum (moedervennootschap). (Nationale Bank van België, z.d.)

 

Iedere vennootschap waarop het algemeen recht inzake consolidatie van toepassing is, moet een geconsolideerde jaarrekening en geconsolideerd jaarverslag opstellen, laten controleren en openbaar maken indien zij, alleen of gezamenlijk, één of meer dochterondernemingen controleert. (Nationale Bank van België, z.d.)

 

Onder controle over een vennootschap moet worden verstaan, de bevoegdheid in rechte of in feite om een beslissende invloed uit te oefenen op de aanstelling van de meerderheid van de bestuurders of zaakvoerders of op de oriëntatie van het beleid. De vennootschap die een controlebevoegdheid uitoefent over een andere vennootschap wordt de moedervennootschap genoemd. De vennootschap ten opzichte waarvan een controlebevoegdheid bestaat, wordt de dochtervennootschap genoemd. (Nationale Bank van België, z.d.)

What do annual accounts consist of?

Balance sheet: The balance sheet consists of assets and liabilities.
The assets side of the balance sheet contains all the assets of a company and is sorted by increasing liquidity (convertibility into cash). A distinction is made between fixed and current assets.

 

– Fixed assets are long-term assets that are expected to remain in service for more than one year. These investments remain in possession of the company for a long time. There are 3 types: intangible (patents, licences, capitalisation of expenses,…), tangible (machines, buildings, vehicles,…) or financial (long-term investments, shareholdings, loans,…).

 

– Current assets, on the other hand, are tied to the trading cycle (activity) and will therefore be converted, sold or consumed into cash within a maximum of one year. These are stocks, trade receivables and cash. As a result of its activity, the company will add value to its inventories and thereby pay off its debts. Current assets are easily converted into cash and are therefore the so-called short-term assets.

 

The liabilities contain all the company’s funds. They are divided into equity capital and borrowed capital and are sorted by decreasing liquidity.

 

– Equity capital is the amount of capital invested by the owners of the company, together with the generated profit, which was reinvested . The equity capital is the financial basis on which the company will build its growth capacity and will determine its financial independence.

 

– The borrowed capital gives an overview of the company’s debts towards external parties in order to pay for its assets and can be divided into long-term and short-term debts.

 

The debts of more than one year are covered by long-term debt. This includes, for example, the investment credits/loans.

 

Short-term debt includes debts to be paid within a maximum of one year. Many of these debts belong to the company’s trading cycle (trade debts, VAT, remunerations, …).

 

Income statement:
The income statement records all costs incurred and income earned in the past financial year. It shows whether the company has made a profit or a loss. Occasionally, it is also referred to as the profit and loss account or operating account.

 

Comments:
The comments provide more information about the large aggregates published by the company and the valuation rules used in the balance sheet and income statement.

 

Social balance sheet:
The social balance sheet provides information on the staff such as the total number of staff members, recruitment, dismissals, in short the workforce, and training.

Which model of financial statements should be used?

There are models for (ordinary) enterprises, but also for associations and foundations. Banks and insurance companies publish on specific models. For each type of company, there are models for companies with or without capital.

 

– Micro-companies may use the micro-model. The micro-company is a small company that exceeds a maximum of one of the thresholds set out below:

 

Workforce: 10 FTE
Turnover: 700,000 Euros
Balance sheet total: 350,000 Euros

 

– The abbreviated model may be used by small, unlisted companies. A company is small if it exceeds a maximum of one of the threshold values below:

 

Workforce: 50 FTE
Turnover: 9,000,000 Euros
Balance sheet total: 4,500,000 Euros

 

– All other companies must use the complete model, small listed companies included.

Who must file annual accounts?

Depending on their legal form and/or shareholdership, approximately 450,000 of the Belgian companies must submit their annual and/or consolidated financial statements to the Central Balance Sheet Office of the National Bank of Belgium each year. In these companies the responsibility of the shareholders or partners is limited to their contribution. Since 2003, the paper version has been replaced by the mandatory electronic version, which must be submitted online via the Internet.

Where and when must annual accounts be filed?

A company with a duty to publish has a maximum of 7 months after the closing of the financial year to file its annual accounts with the Central Balance Sheet Office of the National Bank of Belgium. Moreover, the deposit must take place within 30 days after the approval from the general meeting (maximum 6 months after the closing of the financial year). Late filing of the annual accounts incurs a penalty. In addition, it can damage your image. So remember to deposit your financial statements on time!

Why are financial statements important?

Consulting financial statements is often a must for companies. You discover how financially healthy a company is and, in view of a possible new business partnership, this information can be enlightening. It also reveals a company’s strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, you can compare data from the annual accounts with other companies active in the sector in order to gain new insights.

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