The annual accounts: balance sheet, income statement and notes

Who should file them?

Sole proprietorships, general partnerships and ordinary limited partnerships with an annual turnover lower than 500,000 euros (excluding VAT) may keep single-entry accounts. All other companies (private limited liability company (bvba, ebvba), cooperative company (cv), public limited company (nv), etc.) and companies with a turnover of more than 500,000 euros have to keep double-entry accounts, which include the annual accounts.

What do they entail?

The annual accounts consist of a balance sheet, an income statement and accompanying notes. They provide a detailed overview of your company’s financial situation. By comparing the balance sheets year on year, you can also follow the evolution of your equity perfectly, making the annual accounts a useful policy instrument. That is why drawing up annual accounts is also interesting for self-employed people and entrepreneurs who are not legally required to do so.

Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is a snapshot of the financial condition of your business. On one side, you list your assets such as buildings, shares and purchased software programs. Amounts receivable are also part of the assets. On the other side, your debts and equity (liabilities) are listed. These are all the charges, such as loans and debts, that you still have to pay.

The difference between your assets and your debts is your equity. Ideally, the difference is positive. This means that your company owns more than it owes to third parties. If that is the case, you will also be granted credit more easily. However, negative equity is not necessarily cause for concern. Starting self-employed professionals and entrepreneurs invest a lot in the initial stages and even then, a positive balance may not be forthcoming.

Income statement

The income statement is also called the profit and loss account. It displays all the income received and expenses made during the past financial year. Eventually, you either show a loss or a profit. Profit can be paid to the shareholders or shown in the equity (liability) side of your company’s accounts.

Notes

The textual explanation attached to the annual accounts is called the annual report. In addition, an auditor’s report may also be required, in which the statutory auditor (or internal auditor) evaluates the reliability of the financial statements.

Filing

Within 7 months of the end of the financial year, you must file the audited and approved annual accounts with the Central Balance Sheet Office of the National Bank of Belgium. Afterwards, these accounts are in theory accessible to anyone.

Conclusion

The annual accounts are a useful policy instrument for the self-employed and entrepreneurs. The balance sheet, income statement and notes provide you with an annual overview of your company’s financial situation. Even those who are not legally obliged to do so will benefit from preparing their annual accounts.

Updated 10/04/2019

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