In this Update: COVID-19 Support; Financial Reporting; Testing Inventory; Beneficial Ownership
Wow, the world has changed so much in the past month as we now try to figure out the new normal in these uncertain times. As I read through all the email updates, notices and social media posts, I was almost overwhelmed as there is so much information out there. While there are many changes – in how we work, how we interact with clients, extended deadlines – ironically, it is still business “as usual” for many as the work still needs to get done. This month’s topics focus on resources I believe will be helpful in addressing some of the issues you may be facing in getting that work done. Read on…
CPA Canada COVID-19 Resource Support
CPA Canada is committed to adapting and providing timely and relevant information to their members. They are trying to limit emails being sent out and rather are updating their website for relevant topics. They now have a CPA Canada has a COVID-19 resource page listing resources available to help respond to the challenges that now face us. The resources vary in their nature and their source and include publications from accounting firms, lawyers and lenders. Topics covered include crisis response strategies, cash flow management, corporate governance and protecting employees and work remote arrangements. There are many publications in the list that may be of interest to your firm directly or to your clients.
In response to the fact the majority of inquiries from members relate to tax issues, CPA Canada is offering a tax-focused webinar on April 3, 2020 that will address many of the recent announcements by the Federal Government. Topics will include enhanced wage subsidy and GST deferral among other topics. A great resource to more fully understand the current environment so you can in turn advise your clients.
Financial Statement Disclosure Considerations
Over the past week I have had many practitioners phone me to discuss financial statement disclosures for their clients. While I don’t expect to see wide-sweeping generic disclosures, I believe financial statement disclosures may be required for specific circumstances. Companies might scale back operations, have supply chain impacted, lose customers or shut down altogether in reaction to the uncertain times. Such matters as the going concern presumption, valuation of goodwill, impairment of assets, banking covenant requirements, onerous contract provisions and valuation of inventory are significant and require the use of professional judgement on the impact on the financial statements. Many of the larger firms have published articles on financial statement disclosures and after reading most of them, I feel that Deloitte’s is the most comprehensive and informative. While the article is IFRS related, there are many matters that may also be relevant for those companies using ASPE or ASNPO. Use this as the starting point to think about the specific disclosures needed for your clients. And consult where needed.
Testing Inventory Without a Site Visit
The current situation has made inventory testing a huge challenge for auditors, particularly for client entities with a March 31 year end. An article published by the Journal of Accountancy provides guidance on alternative procedures when one can’t attend an inventory count. A cautionary note, the article refers to standards in the US but many of the issues raised consistent with Canadian accounting standards for ASPE and ASNPO. Please feel free to reach out to discuss this issue further as you consider your auditing requirements related to inventory for your clients.
Beneficial Ownership Rules
In the line of business as usual, one change that may slip through the cracks is changes to the Canadian Business Corporations Act mandating the collection of beneficial ownership information, which came into effect in June 2019. The requirement is to track and record individuals who have significant control of the corporation. “Significant” has been deemed to be 25 % or more of the voting rights or 25% or more of the fair market value of shares. While this is a federal requirement, many provinces have taken steps to also make these changes. Manitoba enacted their rules which become effective April 8, 2020 with other provinces following suit. CPA Canada has written a good article on how CPAs can assist clients in meeting this requirement including building awareness, advising and sharing expertise. It is a worthwhile read to help your clients be prepared and meet the requirement which has a stiff penalty if not met. I have not heard of any delays or changes to this requirement.
You will note that I did not include any links on “tips on working from home” as these types of articles are plentiful. Nor did I include any articles on recent announcements from the government on such things as the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit or the enhanced wage subsidy (other than the link to the Webinar) as these articles are also abundant and it is important to go to the source that is most applicable to your clients. I believe that many small owner-managed companies will be relying on their accountants to help them understand or apply for these programs. It is a time when professionals are needed more than ever – I guess that is why the provincial government has stated that accountants are critical service providers and may remain open. Please feel free to reach out any time, I am here to assist you as you assist your clients.
Kirsten S. Albo, FCPA, FCA