Raymond Yeung Tax Consultant former Assessor of Inland Revenue Department 前稅局評稅主任楊輝洪

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Profits Tax - When are profits assessable? 

This question seldom gives rise to tax disputes. As there are no specific provisions in the Ordinance on this question, the generally accepted accounting practices apply. Among these practices, the most relevant ones are “accrual” and “prudence” concepts. 

For tax purpose, an income accrued to a person when he is legally entitled to claim it. On the other hand, by “prudence” concept, profits should not be taken into accounts until they are earned. In other words, no future profits or anticipated profits are assessable.

In general, when goods are delivered or when services are provided, the customers are legally bound to pay --- the sales revenue should be then recognized as “receivables” in the accounts even though their payments are received later.   

Interest on a fixed deposit: the day of accrual is the maturity date of the deposit because the depositor cannot claim it before that day. 

Interest on a savings account: the interest accrues to the depositor on a day-to-day basis and so it should be apportioned throughout the period concerned. 

Sale of property by installments: if profits on sale are taken in the accounts on a pro-rata basis, such basis should be adopted for tax purpose --- vide CIR versus Montana Lands Ltd.  HKTC 334.    


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