The requirements regarding the form, content and filing of companies' annual accounts have changed for the financial years starting on or after 1 January 2016. The modifications are the consequence of the implementation of Directive 2013/34/EU, known as the "Accounting Directive". These changes do not concern the annual accounts of associations and foundations.
At the end of 2015, the Belgian legislator implemented the European Accounting Directive, which aims at reducing the administrative burden for SMEs in relation to financial reporting. The definition of "small company" was changed with regard to the thresholds and method of calculation, and the concept of a "small group" was replaced by the concept of a "group of limited size". These changes have already been discussed (cf. Eubelius Spotlights September 2015 and Eubelius Spotlights March 2016).
New models for companies' annual accounts for financial years as of 2016
In the context of this reform, the models for companies' annual accounts (complete, abridged and consolidated) were revised as to both their form and their content. The revisions only concern the standard models, and hence they do not affect certain types of comapnies that have to draw up their annual accounts according to a specific model, such as credit institutions, investment firms, management companies of investment funds and insurance companies.
Henceforth, the complete model for annual accounts contains, in the final part, the report on payments to governments as covered by section 96/2 of the Companies Code (after the annual report, the report of the commissioners and the social balance sheet). In the actual financial statements (consisting of the balance sheet, the income statement, the appropriation account and the explanatory notes to the financial statements) some categories have been added or abolished:
- In the balance sheet, the "Incorporation costs" have been removed from the fixed assets (C 3.1) and the category "Environmental liabilities" has been added to the breakdown of the "Provisions for liabilities and charges" (C 3.2).
- In the income statement, the categories of "Non-recurring operating income/charges" and "Non-recurring financial income/charges" have been added (C 4), a detailed breakdown of these being included in the explanatory notes (C 6.12). A category "Employees" has been added to the breakdown of the profits to be distributed.
- In the explanatory notes, a category of "Precious metals and works of art" has been added to the subdivision of category 51 of Current investments (C 6.6). Furthermore, a table has been made available to provide information on the shareholding structure in a structured way (C 6.7.2.) as well as on derivative financial instruments that are not valued at fair value. Information has been added on the nature and the financial consequences of material events that have occurred after the balance sheet date (C 6.14), as well as on purchase or sale commitments of the company as a writer of call and put options (C 6.14). A separate category has been added concerning the relationships with associated companies (C 6.15).
In the abridged annual accounts, the following changes have been implemented:
- In the balance sheet, the "Incorporation costs" have been removed from the fixed assets (A 3.1), in line with the complete scheme. A breakdown of the provisions for liabilities and charges has been added to the liabilities (A 3.2).
- In the income statement and the appropriation account, the categories of non-recurring operating income and charges, capital subsidies and interest, non-recurring financial income and charges (A 4) have been added. Just as in the complete scheme, a category "Employees" has been added to the breakdown of the profits to be distributed (A 5).
- In the explanatory notes and in the last part, the statement of capital is limited to information concerning own shares. The annex on provisions for liabilities and charges has been removed, in view of the addition in the balance sheet. The amounts payable to the tax and social security authorities have been moved to the last part of the model (A 9).
- In the last part, information on the participations, the shareholding structure and the amounts payable to the tax and social security authorities have been added. From now on, the amount of the capital subsidies and interest granted, credited or charged by the government have to be stated (A 9). The income statement has been limited to two categories: the average workforce (A 9087) and the activated interest (A 6503). In this last category, the subdivision of non-recurring income and charges has been added (A 6.4). Information on the supplementary pension regimes in favour of the directors and the staff has been added (A 6.5). The category of "Receivables from related companies" has been removed; the categories concerning the guarantees and obligations concern related and associated companies (A 6.6). Finally, a subdivision of transactions concluded outside normal market conditions has been added (A 6.6)
A new model for micro-companies has been added which is in line with the abridged model, but less detailed due to the fact that some disclosure requirements are not applicable to them. The content of the explanatory notes to the financial statements is limited to the fixed assets and the information on own shares, off-balance sheet assets and liabilities, relationships with related parties and valuation rules. In the last section, micro-companies have to report additionally on government-guaranteed debts.
These new models have been freely available on the website of the National Bank of Belgium (www.balanscentrale.be) since July 2016 and they have to be used for the financial years starting on or after 1 January 1 2016.
New arithmetic and logical verifications
The adjustment of the standard models for the annual accounts entails a change in the arithmetic and logical verifications for the existing models and the addition of explicit controls for the models of micro-companies. The new list of arithmetic and logical verifications established by the National Bank of Belgium, following the advice of the Accounting Standards Committee, was published in the Belgian Official Gazette of 15 July 2016.
Filing of the companies' annual accounts for the financial years as of 2016
Finally, the arrangements and tariffs for the filing of companies' annual accounts for the financial years as of 2016 (which have to be drawn up using the new models) have been modified.
As from 1 April 2017, these annual accounts can be drawn up and filed in the form of a structured XBRL file. For micro-companies, this electronic method of filing will be mandatory as from 1 April 2017. To that end, an update of the applications Sofista and Filing on the website of the National Bank is required.
New annual accounts which would be filed before 1 April 2017 (e.g. for financial years of less than one year, starting on or after 1 January 2016) can still be filed in PDF format (via the internet) or on paper (by post). With the exception of micro-companies, companies will also still have the option to file their annual accounts in the same way after 1 April 2017.
For the financial years as of 2016, the electronic filing of the annual accounts in the form of an XBRL file will cost EUR 343.71 for the complete model and EUR 80.65 for the abridged model. Filings in PDF format or on paper are a little more expensive, except for the filing of corrections. All tariffs for filing have been reduced to take into account the abolition of the requirement to publish a notice of the filing of the annual accounts in the Annexes to the Belgian Official Gazette (such publication had become redundant since the accounts are publicly available on the website of the National Bank). The cost for such publication will disappear as of 2016.