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Bookkeping and accounting in Poland

16.10.2019
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Accounting and bookkeeping rules in Poland are regulated by a few important acts that you must know, before registering or moving your company to our country.

We are well aware of current standarts (national and international) , so for our foreign partners we gathered most of the important regulations for those entities whose registered offices or places of executive management are located on the territory of Poland.

What do you need to know about bookkeeping rules in Poland?


The regulations governing and affecting the bookkeeping rules in Poland

Key issues related to the bookkeeping are regulated in the Polish law in the following acts:  

  • The Accounting Act of 29 September 1994 (“the Act”);
  • regulations and announcements given by the Minister of Finance;
  • resolutions of the Accounting Standards Committee in the form of National Accounting Standards;
  • International Accounting Standards.

The Accounting Act

The Accounting Act of 29 September 1994 determines the basic rules regarding in particular:

  • maintaining books of accounts;
  • preparation of financial statements;
  • auditing and publication of the financial statements.

Generally the regulations of the Act shall apply to entities whose registered office or place of executive management are located on the territory of Poland.

In case of not covering certain issues by the Act,  parties may apply National Accounting Standards issued by the Accounting Standards Committee. In the absence of relevant regulations in National Accounting Standards, International Accounting Standards (“IAS”) may be used. The possibility of applying IAS is specified in this guideline in section 3 below.

National Accounting Standards

In matters not covered by the Act entities can (this is their right, not obligation) use the National Accounting Standards (NAS) and statements of similar nature given by the Committee of the Accounting Standard. However, in the absence of regulations in NAS the entities may apply IAS.

So far the following NAS have been issued by the Committee of the Accounting Standard:

  • No. 1 “Cash Flow”
  • No. 2 “Income Taxes”
  • No. 3 “Unfinished Building Services”
  • No. 4, “Impairment of Assets”
  • No. 5, “Leasing, rental and tenancy”
  • No. 6, “Provisions, accrued expenses, contingent liabilities”
  • No. 7, “Changes in accounting principles (policy),estimation of values, correction of errors, events after the balance sheet date – booking and presentation”

Additionally, Committee of National Accounting Standards has issued several statements regarding:

  • accounting for rights (permissions) to emissions air pollution;
  • assessment the cost of manufacturing for the purpose of balance sheet valuation;
  • accounting for the property rights of certificates of origin for electricity produced from renewable sources;
  • some of the principles regarding bookkeeping.

Entities required to maintain books of account and  prepare the financial statements according to the Act, have also the ability:  

  • in areas where the Act provides for a variant solutions,
  • as well as on the issues described in other regulations (e.g. NAS)

to adopt solutions tailored to the their specific individual requirements and needs (depending on activity, legal form, size).

Although the interpretations in the form of NAS and the statements adopted by the Committee of National Accounting Standards are recommendations only, in practice they should be considered in the process of establishment the accounting policy. Accounting policy should be recorded in written form and updated by the entity manager. Application of the accounting policies in accordance with the Act helps to ensure the proper quality of the financial settlements (i.e. true and fair presentation of assets, financial situation and results of the entity).

Some principles of accounting

The Act also specifies basic rules governing the bookkeeping (i.e. keeping accounting books and preparing the financial statements). Applying the seprinciples helps to ensure the accuracy and clarity of the accounting data. One of the priority principles is obligation to apply the Act in preparing the balance sheet and profit and loss statement in case of a collision tax regulations.

At the same time in accordance with the Act provisions, once maintaining books of accounts and the preparation of financial statements, the entity shall apply the so-called “accrual rule”. The purpose  of this rule is to book all the economic events that apply to a given year, regardless of the fact whether they have been notified or not to the entity by its contractors.

Given the above requirement to book all the economic events of the year in the fiscal year, entities also have an obligation to extract transactions that impact on the outcome of the financial year. In this respect “matching principle rule” should be applied. Under this rule, the profit/loss generated in the fiscal year results from: (i) revenues from the sale of products services, goods and financial operations (ii) and relevant, necessary to achieve the revenue costs already incurred and the other cost (estimated, unpaid, or even not notified).

Tax regulations

The Tax Code provides general provisions regarding  tax issues. In the Polish tax system, we might distinguish a few taxes, among which the most common are:

  •  personal income tax (PIT);
  •  corporate income tax (CIT);
  •  value addend tax (VAT);
  •  real estate tax;
  •  excise duties;
  •  tax on civil law transaction (TCLT);
  •  stamp duty.

Corporate income tax (CIT)

Companies (jointstock company, limited liability company) are subject to corporate income tax. Taxpayers that have their registered office or the  management board in Poland are liable for CIT on their global income. If a corporate taxpayer does not have its registered office or effective place of management in Poland, the tax is levied only on the income derived in Poland, unless double taxation treaties state otherwise.

A standard CIT rate in Poland is 19%.

As to the rule, tax basis comprises all revenue earned in a tax year, both financial and operational (with some exemptions), net of deductible expenses (tax deductible costs).

Personal income tax (PIT)

Individuals are subject to personal income tax. As to general rule the progressive taxation rates should be applied (tax rates 18% and 32%).

Tax assessment basis in PLNAmount of tax:
up to 85.52818% of assessment basis minus 556.02
above 85.52514.839,02 plus 32% of any amount exceeding 85.528

Simultaneously, individuals conducting business activities might choose under certain conditions a flate tax rates (19%) or other simplified methods of tax settlements with the authorities.

Value added tax (VAT)

Generally VAT is imposed on supply of goods, the provision of services and the import of goods into Poland. Currently in Poland are 4 VAT rates. The basic rate is 23%, which is applied to majority of goods and services. The other rates are as follow:

  •   8% applies to certain goods and services, e.g. gastronomy services, services of hotels,construction, modernization and rebuilding of buildings within the framework of social housing program, some of the food products;
  •   5%applies to supply of books and branch magazines as well as to certain (basic) food products.
  •   0% applied generally to export, intra Community supply of goods and international transport services.

Real estate tax

Real estate tax is levied by the local authorities (municipal tax), with the rate depending on area of the building, land area or the value of a construction. According to the current regulations real estate tax should not exceed the following maximum rates:

  •  PLN 0.84 per 1m2 for land used for business activities; or
  •  PLN 21.94 per 1m2 for buildings used for business activities; or
  •  PLN 4.45 per 1m2 for buildings used for healthcare services; or
  •  2% of the construction cost for buildings.

Stamp duty

Stamp duty is imposed on certain activities undertaken by public administrations, such as issuing certificates, permissions, powers of attorney and other documents issued by the central and local authorities. Rates vary from PLN 1 to PLN 12,750 (higher rates apply for financial institutions).

Tax on civil law transaction (TCLT)

A tax on civil law transactions is levied on certain contracts (and amendments to such contracts if they result in an increase in the base of TCLT), such as sales, loan and donation contracts, mortgages, and the establishment of usufruct, and partnership or company deeds. However, a transaction is not subject to TCLT if at least one of the parties to the transaction is subject to or exempt from VAT. Although TCLT liability will arise in certain VAT exempt transactions (such as the sale of real estate exempt from VAT).

The rate of tax on civil law transactions varies according to the type of contract, as example:

  •  an increase in a company’s share capital is subject to a 0,5% rate,
  •  the acquisition of shares is subject to a 1% rate and
  •  loans are subject to a 2% rate (except for shareholder loans and some other exemptions
  •  provided by the TCLT Act).

Excise duties

According to the Polish legislation, excise duty is payable on:

  •  excisable goods (e.g. energy products and electricity, alcohol and alcoholic beverages, manufactured tobacco and coal goods), and
  •  passenger cars.

Excisable goods are subject to special rules in Polish legislation that are based on EC directives.

Invoicing

Transactions between VAT taxpayers must be documented by a VAT invoice. In general invoices should be issued within 7 days from the day of release of goods or carrying out a service. Simultaneously, according to the Regulation of Ministry of Finance dated 28 March 2011 a VAT invoice should contain at least the following items:

  • the full name, address and tax identification numbers of the vendor and the purchaser;
  • the sequential number of the invoice, marked with “Faktura VAT” (“VAT invoice”);
  • date of issuance of the invoice;
  • date of supply (if this date differs from the invoice’s issuance date – as with continuous supplies – the taxpayer can indicate the month of the supply if the issuance date of the invoice is also indicated);
  • the quantity and nature of the goods or services supplied;
  • the unit price, exclusive of VAT (net unit price) of the goods or services supplied;
  • value of the goods or services sold exclusive of VAT (net value);
  • applicable VAT rate(s);
  • total net value of the goods sold or services rendered divided according to particular VAT rates and exemptions;
  • VAT amount from total net sales value, divided according to particular VAT rates;
  • total amount due with the VAT amount due.

The amount of VAT due should be always presented in Polish currency (PLN) even if the amount of payment is presented in foreign currency.

Electronic documents

According to the Polish law, taxpayers have the opportunity to submit tax returns and issue invoices in electronic form. For the purposes of electronic flow of both documents, the Polish Law provides specific provisions regarding requirements that must be met.

E -returns

In the case of e -returns, apart from properly installed and setup software (Adobe Reader and Plugin), it is also necessary to have a qualified electronic signature (except of certain personal income tax returns submitted by individuals). Currently, at the local market there are five firms authorized to grant electronic signatures accepted by the Polish tax authorities.

It is also important for the person authorized to sign e -returns to file (onetime procedure only) a statement (UPL1 form) to the competent tax office in hardcopy. In addition, it should be noted that the person signing the e -returns must have a tax identification number (NIP) or PESEL. In practice, it may be more difficult for no -residents to meet the above condition.

E -invoices

Recently regulations regarding e -invoicing have been significantly simplified. The main conditions that need to be fulfilled in order to enjoy e -invoicing are as follows:

  •  to obtain the prior approval of this method of sending invoices by the invoice’s recipient;
  •  and to ensure the authenticity and integrity of the content of the invoice.

The former condition is met, in particular in case of the use of electronic signatures or electronic data interchange (EDI). It should be noted that on the basis of individual tax rulings (unfortunately they are not binding for all taxpayers) sending invoices in PDF format may be acceptable by the tax authorities in the field of electronic invoicing as well.


Entities obliged to maintain books of account in Poland

The most important legal act regulating accounting  in Poland is the Accounting Act of 29. September 1994 (hereinafter referred to as the Act).

The Act specifies entities which are obliged to maintain books of account. They include in particular:  

  • commercial partnerships and companies (including organizations) and civil partnerships, natural person, civil partnerships established by natural person, general partnerships established by natural person and professional partnerships, if their net revenue from the sales of goods for resale, finished goods and financial transactions for the prior financial year amounted to at least EUR 1 200 000 (in Polish zloty),foreign person, branches of a company, foreign entrepreneurs representation (in the meaning of The Freedom of Economic Activity Act provisions).

In the case of natural persons, civil partnerships  of natural persons, registered partnerships of natural persons and professional partnerships may apply the accounting policies set out in this Act also from the beginning of the subsequent financial year if their net revenue from the sales of goods, products and from financial transactions for the preceding financial year amounted to less than the equivalent of EUR 1,200,000 in the Polish currency. In such event, the said persons or partners shall be required to notify the tax office competent for income tax matters before the beginning of the financial year . That amount shall be translated into the Polish currency at the average rate of exchange announced by the National Bank of Poland, as at 30 September of the year preceding a given financial year.

In that case, person or partners are obliged to notify this fact before the beginning of the financial year to the Tax Office relevant to income tax matters.

Branches of foreign entrepreneurs  

General regulations

A foreign entrepreneur branch is one of the forms of conducting a business by a foreign company. Branches of foreign entrepreneurs are obliged to maintain books of account.

Bookkeeping

Books of accounts shall be mantained:

  • in the Polish language,
  • in the Polish currency,
  • in its premises or outside the premises by the entity entitled (accounting office).

The branch is also obliged to prepare the financial statements to which general rules (section: reporting) and specific rules are applied. Specific rules concern in particular:

  • approving of the financial statements. It is considered to be approved when financial statement
  • of foreign entrepreneur (which includes financial statement data of this branch) is approved.
  • publishing the financial statement,
  • filing the financial statements with the National  Court Register  annual financial statement of the branch should be submitted and, in the case of  a branch of a credit institution or financial institution the following documents shall be translated into Polish by the certified interpreter:
  1.  the annual financial statement of a credit or financial institution,
  2.  a copy of the resolution or approval authority for approval of the annual financial statement of credit institutions or financial,
  3.  a copy of the resolution or the provisions of the approval authority of a credit institution about appropriation of profit or loss offset.


Taxation principles

According to the branch taxation special attention shall be paid to:

Income Tax

  • Taxpayer of Corporate Income Tax is a branch of foreign enterpreneur.

Personal Income Tax

  • In case when branch acts as a taxpayer, it means it is obliged to count, collect and pay to the Tax Office an advance for income tax from salaries of employees. A branch shall use given Tax Identification Number and meet a payer’s obligations.

VAT

  • A branch of foreign enterpreneur is a taxpayer.

Social Insurance

  • In case of engaging employees, the branch shall be  registered for the social insurance purpose. Obtaining the Tax Identification Number will be necessary.

Representation of foreign enterpreneur  

General Regulations

The representation is another possible form of conducting business by foreign enterpreneurs. The representation is obliged to maintain book of accounts.

Bookkeeping

Books of accounts shall be maintained:

  • in the Polish language,
  • in the Polish currency,
  • in its premises or outside the premises and by theentity entitled (accounting office).

The representations which bookkeep are obliged to use the Regulation of Ministry of Finance of 15 November 2001 concerning special principles of accounting for selected units which are not commercial companies, not conducting business (hereinafter referred to as „the Regulation”),  which simplifies the use of accounting principles, in particular valuation of assets and liabilities, financial result calculation and preparation of financial statement. The main simplifications in respect to the accounting principles are presented below:

The Income of representation

Income includes (among other things)  cash received from foreign enterpreneur for the purpose of financing the costs of representation (assets received free of charge and other income).

The costs of representation

The costs of conducting business include (among other things) costs concerning realization of statutory representation tasks, that is advertisingand promotion and administrative costs.

The principle of conservatism

Representations may not use the principle of conservatism.

Financial result

Representations calculate financial result as a difference between income and costs. This difference after the approval of annual financial statement – increases income or cost in next financial year. The positive difference may be allocated for increasingthe statutory fund.

Financial Statement

Representations are obliged to prepare the annual financial statement as at the day of ending the financial year and for every other balance sheet date. Financial Statement consists of:

  • balance sheet,
  • profit and loss account,
  • notes to the financial statement.

Principles od taxation

According to the branch taxation special attention shall be paid to:

Income Tax

  • According to prevailing opinion, if representation  conduct only business in promotion and advertising area, it is not a taxpayer of Corporate Income Tax in Poland.

Personal Income Tax

  • If representation acts as taxpayer, it is obliged to count, collect and pay to Tax Office an advance for income tax from salaries of employees and shall use given Tax Identification Number and meet a payer’s obligation.

VAT

  • If representation conducts business only in the area of representation and promotion, registration for the purpose of Value Added Tax in Poland shall not be necessary.

Social Insurance

  • In case of engaging employees, the representation shall be registered for the social insurance purpose. Obtaining the Tax Identification Number will be necessary.

Applying IAS for entities

Foreign entities have the possibility of applying to the International Accounting Standards (IAS).  

Note, however, that the possibility of applying IAS depends on the fulfilment of certain conditions. IAS can be used in particular by the:  

  • issuers of securities admitted to or issuers of securities intending to apply for admission to or issuers of securities pending admission to trading  on one of the regulated markets of the European Economic Area,
  • entities being members of a capital group, in which a parent company prepares consolidated financial statements under IAS,
  • branches of a company, if the entrepreneur prepares financial statements in accordance with IAS.

A decision in respect of the preparation of financial statements in accordance with IAS shall be taken by an approving body. Annual financial statements prepared in accordance with IAS are subject to annual audits. Entities which do not apply IAS for matters not regulated by the Act and domestic standarts may apply IAS.


Bookkeping, language and currency

Books of accounts shall be kept in the Polish language.

In practice, it means that all descriptions of transactions, account names, the reports automatically created by the computer system (e.g. balance sheet, trial balance, profit and loss account) should be prepared in Polish. Nevertheless the computer system used for keeping the books of accounts may be managed in any foreign language.

Simultaneously, books of accounts shall be kept in  the Polish currency. It means that business transactions expressed in foreign currencies shall  be booked in a manner allowing to determine of the amount of the transaction in both Polish and foreign currency.

It should be emphasized that Polish tax regulations provide specific provisions in respect of calculation of foreign exchange differences as well as valuation of the transactions conducted in foreign currency. In practice, transactions expressed in foreign currency should be entered into the system in manner enabling their settlement both for tax purposes (mainly corporate income tax and VAT) and accounting purposes as well.

Accounting and bookkeeping in Poland -  language, currency

Place of keeping the books of accounts

Generally, the books of accounts are maintained by  the entity. However, the bookkeeping may be outsourced to a local business entity or the business entity from certain countries (including the EU and EFTA), which are licensed to provide such services.

The business entity is not limited in choosing the  place of keeping the books of accounts (e.g. the registered office of an entity, a representative orbranch office of legal person) located in Poland,  as well as abroad. If the branch (business unit) – as a part of business entity  is not entitled to prepare the separate financial statement, it can be authorized (by the business entity) to keep the books of accounts for itself or for whole business entity. This kind of authorization does not determine the obligation of preparation the financial statements for the branch (business unit) or for whole business entity.

In practice, due to numerous additional requirements imposed by the Polish accounting law in respect of maintaining books of accounts as well as amendments of tax system, small and mediumsized enterprises outsource this services to a professional accounting offices.

Books of accounts maintained on server located offsite the place of bookkeeping

Computerized book of accounts, accounting information resources in the form of separate electronic data files, databases or the individual separate components are regarded as equivalent of the books of accounts, irrespective of the place of their origin and storage.

An entity may maintain the accounting system information resources in this form, providing that the entity is in the possession of software enabling toobtain readable information in respect of entries made in the books of accounts, by printing it out or transferring it into another data medium.

Books of accounts maintained by using a server located offsite the places of bookkeeping are considered as kept in the proper way when at least the following conditions are met:

  • the entity takes control over the books of accounts and all made entries;
  • the entity ensures identity of books of accounts and the copies of the reports/data received by the wired or wireless links;
  • books of accounts should be kept in reliable, errorfree and in verifiable manner and on an ongoing basis;
  • booking entries can be linked with the books of account;
  • the books of accounts, accounting documents, stocktaking documentation, financial statements and other should be stored in a proper manner and protected against forbidden modifications, unauthorized distribution, damage ordestruction;
  • the books of accounts are always available in place of keeping the entity’s books of accounts;
  • the business entity owns the document printed out  in the form of books of accounts or saved the contents of the books of accounts on another electronic data medium – if the entity is in the possession of software enabling to obtain readable information for the period not shorter than 5 years.

Outsourced accounting services  

If the books of accounts are not kept in the registered office of entity (branch, business unit), the entity’s manager is required to:  

  • inform a relevant tax office about the place where the books of accounts are kept – within 15 days from the date when the books have been moved outside the registered office of the entity (branch, business unit);
  • ensure access to the book of accounts for auditing by authorized external control bodies in the registered office of the entity (branch, business unit).

This situation may happen if the place of keeping the books of accounts is not the same as the registered office of an entity. In other words, the tax office should be notified about the fact of keeping the books of accounts in the offices of the branches (business units), other offices (not the headquarters or places of management) or if it has  been outsourced to a business entity licensed to provide such services.

The entity’s manager is responsible for the fulfillment of accounting obligations specified in the Act even if the place of bookkeeping is outsourced to an external entity.

Due to several discrepancies between the accounting regulations and the tax law as well as a number of duties of reporting to external bodies such as the Polish National Bank or the Central Statistical Office, the issue of bookkeeping is often outsourced to a professional, fullservice providers. In practice, the preparation of tax returns, financial statements and a number of other reports in the Polish language is associated with numerous timeconsuming administrative tasks. To meet the expectations of customers, accounting offices offer comprehensive services including: the tax compliance, bookkeeping and other reporting services. Because of specialization and innovative IT solutions, the outsourcing gives the possibility to:

  • optimize the administrative costs within the company;
  • improve and take control of the company’s finances;
  • mitigate the risks associated with tax settlements;
  • focus the company on its core business.

In practice, more and more entities decide on the implementation of the electronic flow of documents both for external purposes (i.e. tax authorities and clients) as well as internally within the entity.


Financial reporting and statements

A balance sheet date

The financial report shall be prepared as at the day of closing the books, which means in particular:

  • at last day of each financial year,
  • at the last day of the entity’s operations,
  • at the date which precedes a change in legal status or the date of demerger, merger, division of entities. 

Elements of financial statements

Financial statements includes:

  • balance sheet,
  • profit and loss account,
  • notes to the financial statements.

Financial statements which are subject to annual audits also include:

  • cash flow statement,
  • statement of changes in equity.

Audit of financial statements

Examination of the financial statements by the auditor is mandatory for:

  • joint stock companies,
  • other entities which in the prior financial year for which the financial statement was prepared, met at least two of the following contitions:
    • the average annual number of employees, by fulltime equivalents, reached or exceeded a level of 50 persons;
    •  total assets as at the end of the financial year  reached or exceeded the Polish currency equivalent of EUR 2,500,000;
    •  net sales of products and goods for resale, plus income on financial transactions for the financial year reached or exceeded the Polish currency equivalent of EUR 5,000,000.

Other

Annual financial statements shall be prepared within three months since the balance sheet date. In the case of some entities an annual report shall be prepared together with the annual financial statements. Financial statements and an annual report shall be  prepared in the Polish language and the Polish currency.

Financial statements of consolidated entities  

Elements of consolidated financial statement

The obligation to prepare consolidated financial statements relates to parent holding companies. Consolidated financial statements include the following:

  • a consolidated balance sheet,
  • a consolidated profit and loss account,
  • a consolidated cash flow statement,
  • a statement of changes in consolidated equity,
  • notes to the consolidated financial statements.

An annual reoport of the capital group shall be enclosed to the annual consolidated financial statements of the group.

Exemption from preparing consolidated financial statement

The Act provides the possibility to exempt an entity from preparation of consolidated financial statements. In particular, note the following condition relating to the level of employment, the balance sheet and income. A parent company is not obliged to prepare consolidated financial statements, if as at the balance sheet date of the financial year and as at the balance sheet date of prior financial year, the total data of the parent company and all of its subsidiaries at every level (before consolidation eliminations) meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • average annual number of employees, by fulltime equivalents, did not exceed 250 persons;
  • total assets did not exceed the Polish currency equivalent of EUR 7,500,000;
  • total net sales of products and goods for resale,  plus income on financial transactions did not exceed the Polish currency equivalent of EUR 15,000,000.


Deadlines of preparing financial statements and institutions to which financial statements shall be filed with  

The most importantant deadlines are listed below.

  • preparing financial statement – 3 months since the balance sheet date,
  • approving financial statement – 6 months since the balance sheet date,
  • approving financial statement of foreign enterpreneur branch – date of approving financial statement of a parent company,
  • filing financial statement with the National Court Register – 15 days since the date of approving financial statement,
  • filing financial statement with the Tax Office – 10 days since the date of approving financial statement,
  • publishing financial statement – 15 days since approving financial statement.