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COVID-19 CPA Information Centre

COVID-19 – CPA Information Centre

Disruption to all of our personal and business lives continues due to the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Mainland China, Hong Kong and around the world. We at the Institute are acutely aware of the additional pressure this has put on our members to try and maintain their working routines and continue to provide quality service to employers and clients.

This information centre collates together information and messages from the Institute and other bodies that members may find helpful.

 

Updated arrangement for library facilities and counter services

In view of the resurgence of locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants announced, from Wednesday, 2 December 2020 onwards, to close the library facilities, whilst counter service hours remain normal.

 

Free e-Learning CPD courses

There are a selection of free e-learning CPD courses available for members and QP students. There are both verifiable and non-verifiable CPD programmes. The verifiable CPD courses are: 

 

Non-verifiable CPD courses:


Practice review
Reviews are still being undertaken at the Institute’s office. Tentative plans to undertake on site practice review visits are being made and notifications will be sent to the relevant practice units once the schedule is finalized.

 

Complaint handling
We take great pride in the efficiency and fairness of our complaint handling process and discharge our duty to protect the public interest while respecting the interests of our members. To allow members involved in complaints to properly deal with enquiries and other related matters, our compliance team will consider requests for extension of deadlines on a case-by-case basis.

 

Institute’s messages

The Institute has sent members messages on the COVID-19 epidemic and the impact on its activities. The latest of which is below.

 

Date Latest message
15 October Financial Industry Recruitment Scheme for Tomorrow (FIRST) – Initial application deadline on 20 October
  Full archive

 

 

 

 

New webpage on government relief measures 

The government has announced over 70 measures to support Hong Kong through the COVID-19 pandemic. To help members, the Institute has created a webpage containing important information about schemes most relevant to the community.

 

Free access to International Standards

Members can access ICAEW’s International Standards for free. Containing world-class technical resources, practical guidance, and live and recorded webinars, International Standards offers relevant and detailed information on accounting, auditing and ethics standards. For access, members need to complete a short registration process.


Support Programme for attending CPD

The Institute’s Support Programme has long been offering 5% of the seats at face-to-face CPD events free of charge to members who are unemployed or who are not working and planning to rejoin the workforce.


In light of the continuing restrictions and the replacement of face-to-face events with webinars, the Support Programme has been extended to include webinars. Eligible events are indicated in the event list.

 

Combatting Fraud

A new simple guide from the Institute to help avoid fraud and deception during a pandemic.

 

HKICPA Trust Fund

The HKICPA Trust Fund, provides assistance to members and their families experiencing financial hardship. Details can be found here.

 

We recognize the need for flexibility in the current situation and so have lifted the requirement to complete a full application form. Applications can be sent to the Secretary (hkicpa_trust@hkicpa.org.hk) with a brief outline of the circumstances. Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the fund’s trustees, who may seek further information or a full application.

 

 

 

 

 

Advice for auditors

 

Financial reporting

 

Listed companies reporting 

 

Professional accountants in business

 

Small and medium sized entities

 

Restructuring and insolvency

 

Taxation

 

 

 

Exemption from compulsory quarantine arrangement

Practising members required to travel to the Mainland

The government announced on 18 May that certified public accountants (practising), partners, directors or employees of registered practice units who are required to travel to the Mainland to conduct audit work for companies listed in Hong Kong with Mainland operations may apply for exemption from the compulsory quarantine arrangement. The Institute is providing administrative support for the scheme, and has sent public interest entity auditors an email, information paper and forms (1, 2) for their completion. 

 

On 26 July, the government announced that the Chief Secretary for Administration had approved under section 4(3) of Cap. 599C to, among other things, vary the conditions that will be attached to exempted persons. The additional conditions, with effect from 29 July, are also applicable to authorizations issued previously by Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau to exempted persons, whether or not they have or are yet to travel to the Mainland. Please click here for details.

 

On 21 November 2020, the Government announced tightened conditions to the exempted persons, both approved or in the process of being approved, under Cap. 599C "Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong Regulation" arriving Hong Kong via the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) with effect from 22 November 2020.The additional conditions, with effect from 22 November, are also applicable to authorizations issued previously by Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau to exempted persons, whether or not they have or are yet to travel to the Mainland. Please click here for details. 

 

Return2hk quarantine exemptions and additional condition to the exempted persons

On 11 November, the government announced that Return2hk Scheme would be effective from 23 November 2020. In the same announcement, the government announced an additional condition to the exempted persons, both approved or will be approved, under Cap. 599C "Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong Regulation" arriving Hong Kong via land boundary control points. The additional conditions, with effect from 23 November, are also applicable to authorizations issued previously by Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau to exempted persons, whether or not they have or are yet to travel to the Mainland. Please click here for details. 


Other professions that can apply for exemption

 

For all exemptions, click here.

 

Financial Industry Recruitment Scheme for Tomorrow (FIRST)

On 25 September, the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau announced that the Financial Industry Recruitment Scheme for Tomorrow (FIRST) under the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund will be launched and open for application on 30 September. FIRST is a cross-sectoral job creation scheme dedicated to the financial services industry to help create 1,500 new jobs in the financial services industry. Refer to the dedicated webpage for details.

 

Latest social distancing measures 
On 30 November, the government announced its further tightened social distancing measures in view of the recent serious epidemic situation.

 

Advice on general meetings

For companies with annual general meetings, there are specific exemptions to the regulations to allow them to hold their AGMs, subject to no food or drink being served, the number of persons allowed in a room or partitioned area is 20. More details can be found in the press release from the government. Other bodies have also released guidance:

  • The SFC and the HKEX released a joint statement on 1 April.
  • The Companies Registry has a webpage containing answers to questions about holding a general meeting.
  • The Hong Kong Institute of Chartered Secretaries has also published guidance and messages on the topic on 31 March, 9 April, and 21 April

 

Government services

  • Companies Registry – Limited counter services for receiving documents delivered and collection of certificates for company incorporation, opening between 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday, and the Public Search Centre opening between 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 2 December until further notice. Refer to the announcement for detailed arrangements.
  • Inland Revenue Department – Starting on 2 December, the department only operates essential public services including the Central Enquiry Counter (only for enquiries relating to tax clearance for taxpayers leaving Hong Kong), Business Registration Office, Stamp Office and Central Telephone Enquiry, until further notice. Refer to the announcement for detailed arrangements.
  • The Judiciary – Court hearings will generally continue to proceed as scheduled. From 7 December onwards, the registries and accounts offices of all levels of courts will reduce their operating hours to 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday. Refer to the announcement for detailed arrangements.
  • Official Receiver's Office – Opening hours of all offices will remain unchanged, but the number of counters providing public services on 10/F, High Block, Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong, will be reduced from 2 December until further notice. Refer to the announcement for detailed arrangements.

Inland Revenue Department announcements

Tax exemptions for Anti-epidemic Fund schemes

The Exemption from Salaries Tax and Profits Tax (Anti-epidemic Fund) Order will be gazetted and take effect on 29 May. The order implements tax exemptions from the year of assessment 2019-20 to most of the financial assistance or relief under the Anti-epidemic Fund provided to businesses or individuals. Read the press release and annex for more about the order. 

 

Filing deadlines for 2019/20

  • Profits tax returns:
    This year there are also special extensions available under the block extension scheme for companies with accounting date code “N” (i.e. those whose accounting year end dates falls within 1 April to 30 November 2019). For N-code companies represented by tax representatives, filings are due by 30 June.
    For unrepresented N-code companies that do not expect to be able to meet their one-month deadline  which means filing their returns by 3 June, they can request IRD in writing for an extension of time. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
    On 9 September the IRD announced that for filing Profits Tax returns for 2019/20 with Accounting Date Code D (i.e. accounting date falls within 1 December 2019 to 31 December 2019) are due by 30 September.

Extended deadlines 

On 9 April the IRD announced that deadlines for the second payments for salaries tax, personal assessment and profits tax will be extended automatically for three months if the first payments are duly settled before the payment due dates. The extension does not apply to property tax, salaries tax due for individuals who will leave Hong Kong for good, and payments in which instalment arrangements are in place.

 

On 4 September, the IRD announced that deadlines for tax payments (excluding Auto Tax Payment Service under the Tax Reserve Certificates Scheme), lodgement of objections and holdover applications, and submission of tax returns and information that fall between 20 July and 13 September will be automatically extended to 14 September.

 

 

 

 

The HKSAR government

  • The HKSAR government’s COVID-19 Thematic Website, a one-stop platform for the local situation of the COVID-19 epidemic, including figures and dashboards relating to the epidemic, infection situation updates, government’s measures, health advice and guidance, as well as public services special arrangement updates.
  • Information Services Department, latest news on the COVID-19 from news.gov.hk.

 

International bodies

 

Global Accounting Alliance members

 

Accounting firms

 

Law firms

 

Others

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