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B.COM (CA) ‘B’

Poland is one of the most favored locations for investment in

Europe. European Union accession bringing more stability, greater
market access and financial assistance; a young and educated
society; fast economic growth and investment incentives are the
key factors making Poland an attractive location for overseas
investment. Almost 17,000 companies with foreign participation
do business successfully not just in Poland but also, from their
Polish bases, throughout Europe and worldwide.

Poland is located in the heart of Europe, close to the economic

centre of the continent
 The country is a stable democracy, a member of NATO, the
European Union, WTO and OECD
 The country is attracting a lot of investor interest and capital
 Poland’s economy is developing at a speed considerably faster
than Western Europe
 Polish economic growth is driven by a dynamic private sector
 The Polish market is as big as the rest of Central Europe
 The population is homogeneous and basically free of ethnic
 Poland offers a large, educated workforce at competitive prices
 The currency is stable and inflation is low

The transformation of the economy of Poland which started

together with the change of the political system required that the
principles of Polish accounting be adjusted to the needs of a
market economy. The Ordinance of the Minister of Finance of
1991 concerning the principles of accounting was the turning
point. From this moment onwards all enterprises conducting full
accounting were obliged to apply the principles set forth therein.
Over time, the said principles were gradually adjusted to the
provisions of the IV Directive of the European Union which
mentioned, among other things, one of the major principles of
accounting: a faithful and honest presentation of the image of an
enterprise. In Poland this principle was adopted in 1994, when the
Accounting Act, the basic document governing bookkeeping in
Poland till the present day, was passed.

Since the day the said resolution was passed, it has been amended
many times in order to adjust its requirements to international
standards and the expectations of readers of financial statements.
Today, together with 3 domestic standards of accounting and
numerous detailed ordinances indicating specific provisions, it
constitutes the entire accounting system in Poland.

Companies existing in Poland can keep their accounts according to

simplified principles based mainly on tax provisions, for instance,
in the form of a tax revenue and cost register or in the form of full
accounting, in compliance with the Accounting Act which
stipulates that the units fulfilling, among other things, the
following conditions have been compulsorily obligated to do so:

• Units being commercial companies;

• Units being natural persons, civil partnerships, registered

partnerships or professional partnerships, provided that the
net income from the sale of goods, products and financial
operations for the previous accounting year amounted to a
equivalent of at least EUR 800,000;

• Units being organizational units operating on the basis of the

Banking Law, provisions on trading in securities, provisions
on investment funds, provisions on insurance activity or
provisions concerning the organization and functioning of
pension funds, irrespective of their level of income,
• Units being foreign legal persons, foreign unincorporated
units or foreign natural persons conducting business activity
on the territory of the Republic of Poland personally or
through an authorized person or through employees,
irrespective of the level of income.

Account books are to be kept in the Polish language, in the Polish

currency and they are to be conducted in the registered office of
the unit. Account books may be kept on the territory of the
Republic of Poland outside the registered office of the unit,
however, in such a case, the head of the unit is obliged to do the

• Notify the competent tax office of the place of keeping the

books within 15 days from the day of releasing books outside
the registered office of the unit;

• Ensure the availability of account books for the inspection of

empowered authorities of external control in the registered
office of the unit.

Lately, due to management requirements and the reduction of costs

of IT systems it has become popular to create one IT system for
many companies of one capital group located in different
countries. Therefore, one may ask whether it is possible that the
books of a Polish unit are kept abroad.
The Ministry of Finance, in its interpretation of legal provisions,
stated that an IT system serving for keeping accounts with the use
of a computer cannot be located outside the territory of Poland
whereas there are no obstacles for electronically sending
accounting data of the unit abroad for the purpose of separately
processing the same with the use of a different IT system for the
needs of a foreign unit.

Simultaneously, it is believed that if the data are transferred from

computer data carriers, the recording of the data on these carriers
counts as bookkeeping. Therefore, it should be acknowledged that
only the transfer of the data outside the registered office of the
company for the purpose of recording and processing the same
outside the registered office is equivalent to keeping these books
outside the registered office.

Therefore, if the company enters documents into the IT system in

its registered office but they are processed on a server located
abroad, the statutory requirements are considered fulfilled.

The Ministry of Finance approves this approach provided that the

following requirements are fulfilled:

• There is documentation of the used IT system of accounting

in the registered office;

• Account books are made available in the registered office of

the unit for inspection by empowered authorities of external
• The system of keeping accounts ensures clear links between
book entries and accounting documents;

• Data resulting from source documents are entered in the

books in the registered office of the company.

In Poland, except for banks, no uniform system of a set of accounts

to be used while making entries in the books has been established.
Each unit has the right to specify any set in the manner facilitating
the fulfillment of all statutory and reporting requirements.

Responsibility for the performance of obligations in the scope of

accounting set forth by the act shall be borne by the head of the
unit. Where the head of the unit is a multi-person authority and the
person responsible has not been appointed, the responsibility shall
be borne by all members of the said authority.

Keeping account books in a manner violating the provisions of the

Accounting Act is liable to a fine or punishable by imprisonment
for up to two years or by both these punishments jointly. In
addition, in compliance with the provisions of the Polish penal
fiscal code, faulty bookkeeping shall be subject to a fine. Another
negative consequence of incorrect accounting can be the risk that,
pursuant to the provisions of the Tax Law, improperly kept
account books will not be acknowledged as evidence in fiscal

The European Union supported the implementation of the

International Accounting Standards due to which for two years all
companies operating on EU stock exchanges have been using the
same standards to draw up consolidated financial statements.

In Polish law the IAS appeared in the amended Accounting Act of

2000. A considerable part of its provisions and regulations issued
on the basis thereof were directly based on suitable standards.

Moreover, keeping up with globalization, also in Poland it is

allowed, and in some cases even required, that International
Financial Reporting Standards (former IRS) be used as official
principles of reporting.

The obligation to prepare consolidated financial statements in

compliance with the IFRS has been imposed on banks and units
admitted into trade on one of the regulated markets of the countries
belonging to the European Economic Area. The following units, in
turn, have the possibility of drawing up standards compliant with
the IFRS:

• In terms of drawing up consolidated financial statements –

issuers applying for admission into public trade in Poland or
on one of the regulated markets of the EEA countries;
• In terms of preparing individual financial statements – issuers
of securities admitted into public trade in Poland or in one of
the regulated markets of EEA countries, issuers applying for
admission into public trade in Poland or on one of the
regulated markets of the EEA countries or units belonging to
the capital group (subsidiaries and co-subsidiaries), in which
consolidated financial statements are drawn up by a dominant
unit in compliance with the IFRS.

What transpires from the inspection of financial statements

prepared in the past years in compliance with the IFRS is that
by virtue of the absence of clear guidelines concerning the
actual style of reporting, the preparation of an in-house
reporting style, namely, attention to detail and a clear but also
reader-friendly image related to the activity conducted, should
be the most important objective.

In practice, few companies in Poland actually apply the IFRS.

Numerous units belonging to international concerns prepare
financial information in compliance with requirements
presented by dominant units. Where a company is not subject to
statutory reporting requirements this is the only kind of
reporting units prepare.

A financial statement is drawn up as at the day of closing the

books, in the Polish language and in the Polish currency. The
financial statement of the below mentioned units is subject to an
annual audit:

• Banks and insurance companies;

• Units acting on the basis of the provisions on trading in

securities and provisions on investment funds;

• Joint-stock companies, exclusive of companies in

organization on the balance sheet day;
• Other units which in the preceding accounting year for which
the financial statement was drawn up, fulfilled at least two of
the following conditions:
o Average annual employment expressed in full-time
posts amounted to at least 50 persons,

o The sum of the assets in the balance sheet as at the end

of the accounting year constituted a PLN equivalent of
at least EUR 2,500,000,

o The net income from the sale of goods and products and
financial operations for the accounting year constituted
a PLN equivalent of at least EUR 5,000,000.

The audited financial statement together with the opinion of a

statutory auditor and the resolution on approval of the annual
financial statement and distribution of profit or coverage of loss
are submitted to the appropriate court register by the head of
the unit.
The audit of financial statements is conducted in compliance with
the Norms of a statutory auditor issued by the National Council
of Statutory Auditors for audits conducted in compliance with
legal provisions effective in Poland. In many cases during the
audit, which is particularly connected with reporting to a
dominant unit, the audit is conducted not only in compliance
with the said norms but also in compliance with the
International Accounting Standards (IAS).

In Poland, lists of statutory auditors authorized to sign opinions

and reports from audits as well as subjects authorized to
conduct these audits are kept by the National Chamber of
Statutory Auditors (NCSA). As at the end of September 2006,
3700 persons in Poland were authorized to act as statutory
auditors and ca.1900 subjects were eligible for conducting
audits, despite the fact that over 3100 subjects had been
reported (according to successively given numbers). However,
some had already been crossed off the list, since the list is open,
which means that new subjects acquiring the right to act as
statutory auditors may be entered onto the list while subjects
renouncing on their activity or failing to comply with the
provisions of the Act on Statutory auditors and their self-
government may be removed therefrom.

The opinion from the audit is a standard document containing

paragraphs which are required to be present in each and every
opinion. This is determined by the previously mentioned norms
and allows for the comparability of issued opinions. Such an
opinion, besides being submitted to the court register, is then
published together with the financial statement.

The aim of this study is to discuss the difficulties that Poland, as an

example of a transition economy, has in complying with the
underlying principles of IAS and to recommend changes that
need to be introduced before true convergence to IAS can take
place. The study identifies existing differences between Polish
financial reporting and the IAS in terms of the underlying
conceptual framework, using the treatment of fixed assets to
demonstrate the fundamental differences between the two

Using in-depth interviews supported with a review of the

published financial statements for a sample of listed Polish and
UK companies, the study found considerable differences
between Polish accounting law and IAS. The article argues that
those differences arise predominantly from the Polish legalistic
and rule-based orientation that is incompatible with the
principle-based spirit of IAS. It will be argued that, in order to
achieve greater convergence to IAS, Polish accountants will
need to move away from the system of uniform reporting
towards broader, principle-based accounting.