A company is a voluntary association of persons formed for some common purpose. It is an artificial person created by Law. It exists only in contemplation of law and has no physical existence. It has a personality distinct from its members. A company or corporation (the words have the same meaning) is a legal entity that is separate from its members. When you form a company, you form an imaginary legal person which can hold and dispose of property, take legal action and sign documents. A Company is a voluntary association of person formed for the purpose of doing some business. A company is a juristic person (in the eyes of law it is a person). The company can sue and it can be sued. It has its own name and a separate legal entity, distinct from its members who constitute it. A company has its own property; the members (shareholders) cannot claim the property of the company as their own property.
You may form, or already be in a company for a number of reasons including:
- To protect yourself against liability for business debts.
- To take advantages of company taxation rates.
- The flexibility of membership that is provided by a company structure.
The federal Corporations Act 2001 - a lengthy and complex statute - controls the operations of all companies in Australia. It is administered by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) which display a great deal of useful company information on its website. In the course of simplifying company law, a Small Business Guide was introduced as Part 1.5 of the Corporations Law.
INCORPORATING A COMPANY
There are many rules laid down by the company act 1956 for the registration and incorporation of both public and private companies. A company is formed by registering the Memorandum and Articles of Association with the State Registrar of Companies of the state in which the main office is to be located.
Application for consent to open a branch, a project office or liaison office is made via the Reserve Bank of India by submitting form FNC-5 to the Controller, Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Section of the Reserve Bank of India. For opening a project or site office, application may be made on Form FNC-10 to the regional offices of the Reserve Bank of India. A foreign investor need not have a local partner, whether or not the foreigner wants to hold full equity of the company. The portion of the equity thus not held by the foreign investor can be offered to the public.
Incorporating a Company - Approval of Name
The first step in the formation of a company is the approval of the name by the Registrar of Companies (ROC) in the State/Union Territory in which the company will maintain its Registered Office. This approval is provided subject to certain conditions: for instance, there should not be an existing company by the same name. Further, the last words in the name are required to be "Private Ltd." in the case of a private company and "Limited" in the case of a Public Company. The application should mention at least four suitable names of the proposed company, in order of preference. In the case of a private limited company, the name of the company should end with the words "Private Limited" as the last word whereas in case of a public limited company, the name of the company should end with the word "Limited". The ROC generally informs the applicant within seven days from the date of submission of the application, whether or not any of the names applied for is available. Once a name is approved, it is valid for a period of six months, within which time Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association together with miscellaneous documents should be filed. If one is unable to do so, an application may be made for renewal of name by paying additional fees. After obtaining the name approval, it normally takes approximately two to three weeks to incorporate a company depending on where the company is registered.
Memorandum and Articles
The Memorandum of Association is a document that sets out the constitution of the company. It contains, amongst others, the objectives and the scope of activity of the company besides also defining the relationship of the company with the outside world.
The Articles of Association contain the rules and regulations of the company for the management of its internal affairs. While the Memorandum specifies the objectives and purposes for which the Company has been formed, the Articles lay down the rules and regulations for achieving those objectives and purposes.
The ROC will give the certificate of incorporation after the required documents are presented along with the requisite registration fee, which is scaled according to the share capital of the company, as stated in its Memorandum. A private company can commence business on receipt of its certificate of incorporation.
A public company has the option of inviting the public for subscription to its share capital. Accordingly, the company has to issue a prospectus, which provides information about the company to potential investors.
The Companies Act specifies the information to be contained in the prospectus. The prospectus has to be filed with the ROC before it can be issued to the public. In case the company decides not to approach the public for the necessary capital and obtains it privately, it can file a "Statement in Lieu of Prospectus" with the ROC.
On fulfillment of these requirements, the ROC issues a Certificate of Commencement of Business to the public company. The company can commence business immediately after it receives this certificate.
Certificate of Incorporation
After the duly stamped Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association, documents and forms are filed and the filing fees are paid, the ROC scrutinizes the documents and, if necessary, instructs the authorized person to make necessary corrections. Thereafter, a Certificate of Incorporation is issued by the ROC, from which date the company comes in to existence. It takes one to two weeks from the date of filing Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association to receive a Certificate of Incorporation. Although a private company can commence business immediately after receiving the certificate of incorporation, a public company cannot do so until it obtains a Certificate of Commencement of Business from the ROC.
- The documents/forms stated below are filed along with Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association on payment of filing fees (depending on the authorized capital of the company).
- Declaration of compliance, duly stamped.
- Notice of the situation of the registered office of the company.
- Particulars of Directors, Manager or Secretary.
- Authority executed on a non-judicial stamp paper, in favour of one of the subscribers to the Memorandum of Association or any other person authorizing him to file the documents and papers for registration and to make necessary corrections, if any.
- The ROC’s letter (in original) indicating the availability of the name.
Businesses liable for income tax must obtain a tax identification card and number [known as Permanent Account Number (PAN)] from the Revenue Department. In addition to this, businesses liable to withhold tax must necessarily obtain a Tax Deduction Account Number (TAN). Both the PAN and the TAN must be indicated on all the returns, documents and correspondence filed with the Revenue Department. The PAN is also required to be stated in various other documents such as the documents pertaining to sale or purchase of any immovable property (exceeding Rs. five lakh), sale or purchase of a motor vehicle, time deposit (exceeding Rs. 5 lakh), contract for sale or purchase of securities (exceeding Rs. 10 lakh), to name a few.
Companies (Central Governments') General Rules and Forms,1956
Filing Registering/Approving Authority
One copy has to be submitted along with a forwarding letter addressed to the concerned Registrar of Companies.
- Document evidencing payment of fee.
- Memorandum and Articles of Association.
- Copy of agreement if any, which the proposed company wishes to enter into with any individual for appointment as its managing or whole-time director or manager.
- Form 18
- Form 32 (except for section 25 company).
- Form 29 (only in case of public companies).
- Power of Attorney from subscribers.
- Letter from Registrar of Companies making names available .
- No objection letters from directors/promoters.
- Requisite fees either in cash or demand draft.
Fee payable depends on the nominal capital of the company to be registered and may be paid in one of the following modes. Cash/postal order (upto Rs.501-), demand draft favouring Registrar of Companies/Treasury Challan should be payable into specified branches of Punjab National Bank for credit.
Time-Limit / Practice Notes
Time-Limit It should be submitted before incorporation or within 6 months of the name being made available.
Practice Notes The declaration has to be signed by an advocate of Supreme Court or High Court or an attorney or pleader entitled to appear before the High Court or a secretary or chartered accountant in whole-time practice in India who is engaged in the formation of the proposed company or person named in the articles as director, manager or secretary.
The Registrar of Companies has to be satisfied that not only the requirements of section 33(1) and (2) have been complied with but be also satisfied that provisions relating to number of subscribers, lawful nature of objects and name are complied with.
The Registrar will check whether the documents have been duly stamped and also whether the requirements of other laws are met.
Any defect in any of the documents filed has to be rectified either by all the subscribers or their attorney, or by any one subscriber holding the power of attorney on behalf of other subscribers.
This form is to be presented to the Registrar of Companies within three months from the date of letter of Registrar allowing the name.
This declaration is to be given on a non-judicial stamp paper of the requisite value. The stamp paper should be purchased in the name of the person signing the declaration.
This declaration is to be given by all the companies at, the time of registration, public or private.
The place of Registration No. of the company should be filled up by mentioning New Company therein.
The Registrar of Companies will now accept computer laser printed documents for purposes of registration provided the documents are neatly and legibly printed and comply with the other requirements of the Act. This will be an additional option available to the public to use laser print besides offset printing for submitting the memorandum and articles for the registration of companies.
Where the executants of a memorandum of association is illiterate, he shall give his thumb impression or marks which should be described as such by the subscriber or person writing for him.
An agent may sign a memorandum on behalf of a subscriber if he is authorized by a power-of-attorney to do so. In the case of an illiterate subscriber to the memorandum and articles of association, the thumb impression or mark duly attested by the person writing for him should be given. The person attesting the thumb mark should make an endorsement on the document to the effect that it has been read and explained to the subscriber. The Registrar of Companies will not accept zerox copies of the memorandum and articles of association for the purposes of registration of companies.
This declaration is to be presented by the person signing the declaration or by his bearer at the counter of the Registrar of Companies office.
With whom to be filed
With the Registrar of Companies of the State in which the company is to be registered.
- Any person in order to be appointed as the Managing Director of the company should be a resident of India. Any person, being a non-resident in India, must obtain an Employment Visa from the concerned Indian mission abroad at the time of their appointment as the Managing Director.
- Whereas private companies are free to pay any remuneration to its directors, public companies can remunerate their directors only within the specified limits.
- In case of public companies, in the event of absence or inadequacy of net profits in any financial year, managerial remuneration is limited to amounts varying from Rs 75,000 to Rs 2, 00,000 per month, depending on the effective capital of the company. In case of an expatriate managerial person, perquisites in the form of children’s education allowance, holiday passage money and leave travel concession provided to him would not form part of the said ceiling of remuneration.
- In case of a managerial position in two companies, remuneration can be drawn from one or both companies provided that the total remuneration drawn from the companies does not exceed the higher maximum limit admissible from any one of the companies of which he is a managerial person.
Any person in order to be appointed as the Managing Director of the company should be a resident of India. Any person, being a non-resident in India, must obtain an Employment Visa from the concerned Indian mission abroad at the time of their appointment as the Managing Director.
A printed copy each of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the proposed company filed along with the declaration duly stamped with the requisite value of adhesive stamps from the State/ Union Territory Treasury (For value of stamps to be affixed see Schedule printed in Part III Chapter 23). Below the subscription clause the subscribers to the Memorandum should write in his own handwriting his full name and father's, or husband's full name in block letters, full address, occupation, e.g., business executive, engineer, housewife, etc. and number of equity shares taken and then put his or her signatures in the column meant for signature. Similarly at the end of the Articles Of Association the subscriber should write in his own handwriting: his full name and father's full name in block letters, full address, and occupation. The signatures of the subscribers to the Memorandum and the Article of Association should be witnessed by one person preferably by the person representing the subscribers, for registration of the proposed company before the Registrar of Companies. Under column 'Total number of equity shares' write the total of the shares taken by the subscribers e.g., 20 (Twenty) only. Mention date e.g. 5th day of August, 1996. Place-e.g., 'New Delhi'.
- With the stamped copy, one spare copy each of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the proposed company.
- Original copy of the letter of the Registrar of Companies intimating the availability of name.
- Form No. 18 - Situation of registered office of the proposed company.
- Form No. 29-Consent to act as a director etc. Dates on the consent Form and the undertaking letters should be the same as is mentioned in the Memorandum of Association signed by the director himself. A private company and a wholly-owned Government company are not required to file Form No. 29.
- Form No. 32 (in duplicate). Particulars of proposed, directors, manager or secretary.
- Power of attorney duly typed on a non-judicial stamp paper of the requisite value. The stamp paper should be purchased in the name of the persons signing the authority.
- No objection letter from the persons whose name has been given in application for availability of name in Form No. 1-A as promoters/directors but are not interested at a later stage should be obtained filed with the Registrar at the time of submitting documents, for registration.
- The agreements, if any, which the company proposes to enter with any individual for, appointment as managing or whole-time director or manager are also to be filed.
Cash or a bank draft/ pay order treasury challan should be drawn in the name of the Registrar of Companies of the State in which the Company is proposed to be registered as per Schedule X.
The Indian company law does not prescribe the books of accounts required to be maintained by a company. It, however, provides that the same should be kept on accrual basis and according to the double entry system of accounting and should be such as may be necessary to give a true and fair state of affairs of the company.
The Indian company law requires every company to maintain proper books of account with respect to the following:
- All sums of money received and expended and the matters in respect of which the receipt and expenditure take place .
- All sales and purchases of goods by the company .
- The assets and liabilities of the company .
- In case of companies engaged in manufacturing, processing, mining etc, such particulars relating to utilization of material or labour or other items of cost.
The first annual accounts of a newly incorporated company should be drawn from the date of its incorporation upto to the day not preceding the AGM date by more than 9 months. Thereafter, the accounts should be drawn from date of last account upto the day not preceding the AGM date by more than 6 months subject to the extension of the time limit in certain cases. The accounts of the company must relate to a financial year (comprising of 12 months) but must not exceed 15 months. The company can obtain an extension of the accounting period to the extent of 18 months by seeking a prior permission from the ROC. The annual accounts must be filed with the ROC within 30 days from the date on which the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the company was held or where the AGM is not held, then within 30 days of the last date on which the AGM was required to be held. Books of accounts to be kept by company.
Every company is required to maintain proper books of account with respect to all sums of money received and expended all sales and purchases of goods, the assets and liabilities. Central Government may also specifically require the maintenance of certain additional particulars with respect to certain classes of Companies. The books of account relating to eight years immediately preceding the current year together with supporting vouchers are required to be preserved in good order. Every profit and loss account and balance sheet of the company (together referred to as financial statements) is required to comply with the accounting standards issued by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. Any deviation from the accounting standards, including the reasons and consequent financial effect, is required to be disclosed in the financial statements.
The responsibility for the preparation of financial statements on a going concern basis is that of the management. The management is also responsible for selection and consistent application of appropriate accounting policies, including implementation of applicable accounting standards along with proper explanation relating to any material departures from those accounting standards. The management is also responsible for making judgements and estimates that are reasonable and prudent so as to give a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the entity at the end of the financial year and of the profit or loss of the entity for that period.
Every company having a share capital is required to file an annual return with the ROC within 60 days from the date on which the AGM of the company was held or where the AGM is not held, then within 60 days of the last date on which the AGM was required to be held.
Certain Accounting related issues
The company law in India permits the use of depreciation rates according to the nature of the classes of assets. Assets can be depreciated either on the basis of straight-line method (based on the estimated life of the asset) or on the basis of reducing balance method. The law prescribes the minimum rates of depreciation. A company may, however, provide for a higher rate of depreciation, based on a bonafide technological evaluation of the asset. Adequate disclosure in the annual accounts must be made in this regard.
There is no limit on the rate of dividend but there are certain conditions prescribed with regard to computation of profits that can be distributed as dividend. Generally, no dividend can be paid for any financial year except out of the profits of that year after making an adequate provision for depreciation subject to certain conditions. Dividends may also be distributed out of accumulated profits.
Repatriation of profits
A company has to retain a maximum of 10% of the profits as reserves before the declaration of dividends. These reserves, inter alia, can be subsequently converted into equity by way of issue of bonus shares. Dividends are freely repatriable once the investment approval is granted.
Imposition of taxes
Financial year Tax rates of domestic companies Tax rate MAT rate Dividend distribution Tax rate 2010-2011 Total Income Upto Rs. 1 Crore 30.90% 18.54% 16.61% Exceeding Rs. 1 Crore 33.22% 19.93% 16.61% 2009-2010 Total income Upto Rs. 1 crore 30.90% 15.54% 16.995% Exceeding Rs. 1 Crore 33.99% 16.995% 16.995%
Companies are required to withhold tax under the domestic law from certain payments including salaries paid to employees, interest, professional fee, payments to contractors, commission, winnings from games / lottery / horse races etc. Moreover, taxes have to be withheld from all payments made to non-residents at the lower of rates specified under the domestic law or under the applicable tax treaty, if any.
- Imprisonment up to two years and fine.
- Person liable for default .
- Person signing the declaration.