Taxation

Tax planning and management is a proactive function that we undertake competently by staying on top of changing legislations and devising ways of tackling tax liabilities. We understand that taxation solutions need constant adaptation and cannot be applied homogeneously to every business. Our pool of tax planners undertakes a recce of individual or business’s unique environment and recommend taxation strategies after considering the reliefs and rebates that are available for you and your business. Our tax planners’ approach aims to strike a balance between benefits for the present and the future.

We have helped many individuals and companies discharge their tax liabilities and combat stressful investigations that can take a toll on your health and your company’s financial standing. Our taxation advisory expertise includes but not limited to:

  • Advance taxation
  • Tax exemptions & perks
  • Statutory filing and compliance
  • Recording and preserving reports for future assessment
  • Representation in front of auditing firms
  • Answering notices and providing regular support on taxation scrutiny

Our long term view on taxation has helped a number of global enterprises with cross country tax liabilities to operate consistently and intelligently to stay clean of possible interrogations, discharge tax liabilities, take advantage of rebates, plan investments and to undertake a proactive taxation approach.

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Singapore is an acclaimed financial hub in the world and has a corporate taxation framework which is robust and highly efficient. As shown in the table below, Singapore’s current corporate tax rate is 17%, making it easily one of the most competitive corporate tax regime in the world compared to many other nations.

Country Corporate Tax Rate
Hong Kong 16.50%
Singapore 17%
Brunei 20%
Thailand 20%
United Kingdom 20% (from 1 April 2015)
Denmark 22%
South Korea 24.20%
China 25%
Indonesia 25%
Malaysia 25%
Panama 25%
New Zealand 28%
Australia 28.5%-30%
Philippines 30%
Italy 31.40%
Japan 33.06%
France 33.33%
India 34,61%
United States (Federal) 40%

 

We provide you with a snapshot view of the salient factors making the Singapore corporate tax system one of the most competitive corporate tax regimes in the world.

  • Territorial Tax Framework

Income in Singapore is generally subject to tax on a territorial and remittance basis, meaning that corporate income tax is imposed only on income that is generated in Singapore,     received in or remitted to Singapore.

  • Tax Exemption for Newly Incorporated Companies

Qualifying new companies are fully exempted on the first $100,000 of normal chargeable income, and a further 50% tax exemption applies on the next $200,000 for the first three     consecutive Years of Assessment (YA). After the third YA, all companies are eligible to enjoy the Partial Tax Exemption, where there is a 75% exemption on the first $10,000 of normal chargeable income, and a further 50% exemption on the next $290,000.

Eligible companies must satisfy these three conditions to qualify for tax exemption for start-up companies:

(a) The company must be incorporated in Singapore;

(b) The company must be a tax resident in Singapore for that YA; and

(c) The company must not have more than 20 shareholders throughout the basis period for that YA where:

(i) all of the shareholders are individuals “beneficially and directly” holding the shares in their own names; or

(ii) at least one shareholder is an individual “beneficially and directly” holding at least 10% of the issued ordinary shares of the company.

The tax exemption is available to all new companies except for:

(a)    A company whose principal activity is that of investment holding; and

(b)    A company whose principal activity is that of developing properties for sale, investment, or both.

The start-up tax exemption is given to companies to encourage entrepreneurship. Investment holding companies holds investments which derive passive income such as dividends, rent     and/or interest, whereas a real estate company typically incorporates a new company for each property development. The scheme is not meant for such companies, however, these     companies are still eligible for partial tax exemption.

 

  • Corporate Income Tax Rebates

For YAs 2013, 2014 and 2015, all companies will be granted a 30% Corporate Income Tax Rebate, capped at $30,000 for each Year of Assessment. This rebate has since been raised from 30% to 50% of the corporate tax payable for YA 2016 and YA 2017 to help companies, subject to a cap of $20,000 rebate per YA.

  • Tax residence

A company, whether incorporated in Singapore or otherwise, will be deemed a tax resident of Singapore if the business is controlled and managed in Singapore. In general terms, control and     management of a company’s business is vested in its Board of Directors, and the place of     residence of a company is where the directors meet to make strategic operational decisions for the company. Note that the place of incorporation of a company is not necessarily indicative of the tax residence of the company.

  • Tax Filing Deadline

Income chargeable under the Singapore Tax Regime is assessed on a preceding year basis, where all companies are required to submit two corporate income tax forms to IRAS every year:

1. Estimated Chargeable Income (ECI)
This form needs to be filed within three months from the company’s financial year end.

Waiver of Requirement to file ECI
As an administrative concession, companies do not need to file ECI for a particular year if they satisfy both of the following conditions:

(i)     Annual revenue is not more than $1 million for the financial year; and
(ii)    ECI before deducting the tax exempt amount is NIL for the YA.

2.     Form C or Form C-S
These Corporate Income Tax Returns must be filed by 30 November (via paper filing) or 15 December (via e-Filing) of each year for all live companies.

 

  • Mandatory e-Filing of Corporate Income Tax Returns

As announced in Budget 2016, e-Filing of Corporate Income Tax returns (including ECI, Form C and Form C-S) will be made mandatory in a phased approach from YAs 2018 to 2020. This is in line with the nation’s efforts to harness technology to improve productivity in its delivery of public services to the people.

The phased implementation will be according to the following schedule.
(a)    YA2018 – For companies with turnover more than $10 million in YA2017.
(b)    YA2019 – For companies with turnover more than $1 million in YA2018.
(c)    YA2020 – All companies.

 

  • Other Exemptions and Benefits
  • Exemption of Foreign-Sourced Income
    Qualifying Singapore tax resident companies can benefit from the Foreign-Sourced Income Exemption (FSIE) Scheme, when they remit such income to Singapore. This FSIE scheme is applicable to foreign-sourced dividends, foreign branch profits and foreign-sourced service income.However, the exemptions on the above mentioned only apply when the headline corporate tax rate in the foreign country where the money is received from, is at least 15%, and that the income had already been subjected to tax in that particular country. Lastly, the Comptroller of Income Tax must also be satisfied that such a tax exemption would be beneficial to the specific resident taxpayers. In more complex cases, it is advisable for companies to seek a directive ruling from IRAS to determine if the Foreign-Sourced income is exempted from tax in Singapore before remitting the money to Singapore.
  • Productivity and Innovation Credit
    The Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) Scheme supports investments in six productivity improvement activities, namely:(a)    Training of Employees
    (b)    Acquisition or Leasing of PIC IT and Automation Equipment
    (c)    Acquisition and Licensing of Intellectual Property Rights
    (d)    Registration of Patents, Trademarks, Designs and Plant Varieties
    (e)    Research & Development
    (f)    Investment in Approved Design Projects
  • From Years of Assessment 2011 to 2018, businesses can enjoy huge tax savings in the form of Cash Pay-outs and/or Tax Deductions.
  • The Cash Pay-out option is generally more beneficial for businesses with low or no taxable income; where up to $100,000 of total spending in all 6 qualifying activities can be converted to a non-taxable cash pay-out, instead of claiming tax deductions. The current cash pay-out rate effective from YA 2013 is 60% of the qualifying expenditure incurred, up till 31st July 2016, after which the rate will be reduced to 40% as of 1st August 2016.
  • To qualify for the cash pay-out, businesses must employ at least 3 local employees (excluding sole-proprietors, partners under contract for service and shareholders who are directors of the company) in the relevant months, operate a business in Singapore, and its relevant claims on PIC IT & Automation Equipment must already be in use at the point of applying for cash pay-out. The PIC Cash Pay-out Application Form at myTax Portal can be submitted any time after the end of each financial quarter, but before the filing due date of the Income Tax Return on 30 November.
  • Otherwise, the second option would be to elect for the 400% tax deduction on up to $400,000 of spending in each of the 6 qualifying activities per YA, which equates to tax deductions of up to $1.6 million per activity for each YA; or tax savings of up to $272,000 for each activity per YA, with the current corporate tax rate at 17%. This tax deduction can be claimed in the Income Tax Return for businesses according to their respective filing or e-Filing date.
  • In addition under the PIC+ Scheme, qualifying Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) – where revenue does not exceed $100 million or an employment size of less than 200             employees, are offered an additional $200,000 towards the normal expenditure cap for each of the 6 activities per year from YA 2015 to YA 2018.
  • Double Tax Deductions
    The Double Tax Deduction for internationalization (DTDi) Scheme allows for approved companies a 200% tax deduction on eligible expenses incurred for supported market expansion and investment development activities, up to 31 March 2020. For the first $100,000 of qualifying expenses per YA, businesses can automatically claim the double tax deduction without prior approval from Singapore Tourism Board (STB) or International Enterprise (IE) Singapore. Any further expenditure above this cap will require the above-mentioned approval.

 

 

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  • (Avoidance of Double Taxation) Agreements (DTAs)Global transactions across international borders have given rise to international double taxation, when two or more countries impose taxes on the same income – once in the country of source where the income arises, and another time in the country of residence where the income is remitted to. In order to mitigate such effects, Singapore has concluded DTAs with approximately 84 treaty partners up to date.
DTAs that Singapore has signed with countries worldwide
Albania Georgia Luxembourg San Marino
Australia Germany Malaysia Saudi Arabia2
Austria Finland Malta Seychelles
Bahrain2 Guernsey Mauritius Slovak Republic
Bangladesh Hong Kong2 Mexico Slovenia
Barbados Hungary Mongolia South Africa
Belarus India Morocco Spain
Belgium Indonesia Myanmar Sri Lanka3
Brazil2 Ireland Netherlands Sweden
Brunei Isle of Man New Zealand Switzerland
Bulgaria Israel Norway Taiwan
Canada Italy Oman2 Thailand
Chile2 Japan Pakistan Turkey
China Jersey Panama Ukraine
Cyprus Kazakhstan Papua New Guinea United Arab Emirates2
Czech Republic Korea, Republic of Philippines United Kingdom
Denmark Kuwait Poland United States of America2
Ecuador Laos3 Portugal Uruguay3
Egypt Latvia Qatar Uzbekistan
Estonia Libya Romania Vietnam
Fiji Liechtenstein Russian Federation3
France3 Lithuania Rwanda

 

2Limited Treaties                            (Source: IRAS)
3Treaties which have been signed but not ratified.

In general, there are 3 types of DTAs, namely:

  1. Comprehensive – These agreements generally cover all types of income.
  2. Limited – These agreements cover income from shipping and/or air transport only.
  3. These are either comprehensive agreements or limited treaties which do not have

Under a DTA, the method of mitigating is usually where the Country of Residence agrees to either give credit to its tax residents for income, which is taxed at reduced   rates, or exempt such income from tax. The Singapore Laws provides for the credit method in respect of foreign tax paid against the tax payable in Singapore on the        foreign income remitted to Singapore, but it is restricted to the lower amount between the foreign tax paid and Singapore tax payable on the income.

  • Withholding Tax

According to the Income Tax Act, payments of specific natures made to non-resident companies will be subject to a certain percentage of withholding tax to IRAS, depending on the nature of the payment, as per the table shown below. The respective withholding tax form should be filed along with the payment to IRAS by the 15th of the second month from the date of remittance to the non-resident.

 

Nature of Income Tax Rate
Interest, Commission, Fee or Other Payment in connection with any loan or indebtedness 15% (Tax Resident)
17% (Non-Tax Resident)
Royalty or Other Lump Sum Payments for the use of Moveable Properties 10% (Tax Resident)
17% (Non-Tax Resident)
Payment for the use of or the right to use scientific, technical, industrial or commercial knowledge or information 10% (Tax Resident)
17% (Non-Tax Resident)
Rent or Other Payments for the use of Moveable Properties 15% (Tax Resident)
17% (Non-Tax Resident)
Technical Assistance and Service Fees 17% (Prevailing year Tax Rate)
Management Fees 17% (Prevailing year Tax Rate)
Time, Voyage and Bareboat Charter Fees for the Charter of Ships NIL
Proceeds from Sale of any Real Property by a Non-Resident Property Trader 15%
Distribution of Taxable Income made by Real Estate Investment Trust to unit holder who is a Non-Resident 10%
(Distributions made during period
18 Feb 2005 to 31 Mar 2020)

(Source: IRAS)

 

The withholding rates, as above, on payments made to non-tax residents can be overridden, depending if the recipient resides in a jurisdiction which has a Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) with Singapore. If the recipient is indeed a tax resident of the treaty country (proven with a Certificate of Residence), the rates specified in the DTA will apply.

 

APPOINTING A TAX AGENT
Appointing a tax agent gives you a greater peace of mind as the tax laws in Singapore are constantly evolving. If you are unsure of how the corporate taxes would apply to your entity, or if you would simply like for professionals to handle your tax filings for you, we can help. We can assist you with regular tax compliance work such as computing your corporate tax, preparing your tax filings, preparing your tax report and filling in all forms that are required by the IRAS. We can also assist you in more complex and strategic tax planning areas such as advising you on your foreign-sourced income, expenditure which are available for double tax deductions, withholding tax obligations and avoidance of double tax.

Singapore’s Individual resident taxation framework is forthcoming and works in the general interests of residents. The tax year in Singapore begins in January and ends in December with income assessed on a preceding year basis.

Personal Tax Framework

Under the local tax regime, resident individuals are taxed on a territorial basis – on employment income for services performed in Singapore, regardless of where the remuneration is received. Foreign-sourced income remitted to Singapore is tax exempt for resident individuals, unless the income is received through a partnership in Singapore, depending on the nature of the payment.

A Singapore citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident is considered to be a tax resident if he or she normally resides in Singapore, apart for temporary absences which are consistent with his or her claims to be a resident. A foreigner will be taken to be a Singapore tax resident if he or she is physically present or exercising an employment within Singapore for 183 days or more during the year, excluding company directors.

Taxable income includes cash remuneration, wages, salaries, leave pay, fees, commissions, bonus, gratuities, perquisites, allowances received as compensation for services. Benefits-in-kind derived from employment, including home-leave passage, employer-provided housing, automobiles and children’s school fees also constitute taxable income.

Under the one-tier tax system, company dividend pay-outs are not susceptible to tax. Interest income derived by an individual from the deposit of money in a standard savings, current or fixed deposit account with an approved bank or finance company in Singapore is also tax exempt. However, rental income generated from a property located in Singapore is aggregated with other income and is attributable to taxation in Singapore.

A compulsory statutory contribution made by employers to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) on behalf of individuals performing services in Singapore does not constitute taxable income. Contributions made by an employer to any provident or pension fund located overseas are taxable as income when the contributions are paid, unless exempted by concession.

Capital gains can be referred to as investment income of a capital nature that arises due to the sale of real assets like property, or financial assets such as shares or bonds, and intangible assets like goodwill. Singapore does not levy a tax on capital gains.

  • A resident is taxed on Chargeable Income (Assessable Income less Personal Reliefs) at progressive rates, ranging from 0% to 22%.

Resident Tax Rates for Individuals from YA 2017

Chargeable Income Income Tax Rate (%) Gross Tax Payable ($)
On the first 20,000 0 0
On the next 10,000 2% 200
On the first 30,000 200
On the next 10,000 3.50% 350
On the first 40,000 550
On the next 40,000 7% 2,800
On the first 80,000 3,350
On the next 40,000 11.50% 4,600
On the first 120,000 7,950
On the next 40,000 15% 6,000
On the first 160,000 13,950
On the next 40,000 18% 7,200
On the first 200,000 21,150
On the next 40,000 19% 7,600
On the first 240,000 28,750
On the next 40,000 19.50% 7,800
On the first 280,000 36,550
On the next 40,000 20% 8,000
On the first 320,000 44,550

Bottom of Form

In excess of 320,000 22%

      (Source: IRAS)

  • Personal Income Tax Filing Obligations

 

  • Auto-inclusion Scheme (AIS)

Under the Auto-Inclusion scheme (AIS), which is currently compulsory for businesses where employment size exceeds 11 employees, employers can electronically submit their employee’s income information to IRAS, which will automatically be pre-filled into the respective employees’ income tax assessment. The annual deadline for this e-Submission is on 1st March, and 31st March for amendments.

Residents who have a chargeable income under S$22,000 are exempted from paying tax, while individuals above the S$22,000 cap are required to file their annual income tax returns to IRAS by 15th April via paper filing or 18th April via e-Filing. There are penalties for late filing or not filing.

Essentially, there are 3 types of forms to file, depending on your residency and employment status:
1. Form B – Self-Employed Individuals
2. Form B1 – Tax Resident Individuals
3. Form M – Non-Resident Individuals

 

  • When to Pay Your Taxes
    After the tax return has been filed, IRAS will issue a Notice of Assessment (NOA) usually between April and September of the year, indicating total tax liability. The lump sum must be paid within 30 days of receipt of the NOA regardless of any objections; otherwise a 5% late penalty will be imposed. Alternatively, the tax may be paid in installments of up to a maximum of 12 per year.

 

 

  • Taxation of Foreigners working in Singapore
    Foreigners, who intend to take up employment, engage in a business, profession or occupation in Singapore must apply for a work permit or an employment pass beforehand, and the employer in Singapore must sponsor the work pass application.

We provide a brief overview of some of the most common work passes below:

Professionals
List of passes for pass category
Pass type Who is it for
Employment Pass For foreign professionals, managers and executives. Candidates need to earn at least $3,300 a month and have acceptable academic & professional qualifications.
EntrePass For eligible foreign entrepreneurs wanting to start and operate a new business in Singapore.
Personalised Employment Pass For high-earning existing Employment Pass holders or overseas foreign professionals. The PEP offers greater flexibility than an Employment Pass.
Skilled and semi-skilled workers
List of passes for pass category
Pass type Who is it for
S Pass For mid-level skilled staff. Candidates need to earn at least $2,200 a month and meet the assessment criteria.
Work Permit for foreign worker For semi-skilled foreign workers in the construction, manufacturing, marine, process or services sector.
Work Permit for foreign domestic worker For foreign domestic workers (FDWs) to work in Singapore.
Work Permit for confinement nanny For Malaysian confinement nannies to work in Singapore for up to 16 weeks starting from the birth of the employer’s child.
Work Permit for performing artiste For foreign performers working in public entertainment outlets such as bars, hotels and nightclubs.

(Source: MOM)

Foreigners will be considered tax residents, if residing and working in Singapore for at least 183 days within the tax year and will be taxed at progressive tax rates, provided absences from Singapore are reasonable and consistent with the claim to be a tax resident.

Otherwise, foreigners will be taken as non-residents for tax purposes when staying and working in Singapore for less than 183 days during the year preceding the Year of Assessment.

Being physically present in Singapore for 61-182 days in a year, all Singapore-sourced income will be taxed. Although expenses and donations can be claimed, there will be no entitlement to personal tax reliefs, and employment income will be taxed at the higher of 15% flat rate or the progressive resident rate.

On a short-term employment for 60 days or less in a year, you will be treated as a non-tax resident, where employment income is tax exempt, unless you are a director of a company, public entertainer or exercising a profession in Singapore. Professionals include foreign experts, foreign speakers, queen’s counsels, consultants, trainers, coaches etc. If your absence from Singapore is incidental to your Singapore employment, your total income including that for services rendered overseas will be fully taxable in Singapore, without any entitlements to tax reliefs.
Tax residency will be reviewed when employment ceases at the point of tax clearance.

As a foreigner ceasing employment, Form IR21 must be completed at least one month in advance of cessation of employment, or with intentions to leave Singapore for more than 3 months. The employer shall withhold all payments due to the employee from the day of notification of employment cessation, until all the taxes have been paid to IRAS and tax clearance is issued.

Being a non-resident, you may lose touch with the country’s changing taxation laws. Read on for a quick overview of the personal tax implications for non-residents in Singapore.

  • Non-Resident Individual Tax Rates
    Employment income of non-residents is taxed at the greater of 15% or the resident tax rate. Other income is usually taxed at 22%, unless subject to a reduced treaty rate or specifically exempt.
  • Types of Exempt & Non-Exempted Sources of Income
    • Exempt Income (If qualifying conditions are met)
      1.    Specific tax treaty exemption under the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) between Singapore and the Country of Resident of the non-resident professional.
      2.    Income derived by a non-resident arbitrator for arbitration work carried out in Singapore for the period 3 May 2002 and 31 March 2020.
      3.    Income derived by a non-resident mediator for mediation work carried out in Singapore during the period 3 May 2002 and 31 March 2020.
      4.    Employment income of non-resident individual employed for less than 60 calendar days in a tax year.

 

Types of Non-Exempt Income Non-resident individual tax rate /
withholding tax rate from YA 2017
Director’s remuneration 22%
Income derived from activity as a Non-Resident Professional (Consultant, Trainer, Coach, etc) 15% of Gross Income or 22% of Net Income
Income derived from activity as a Non-Resident Public Entertainer (Artiste, Musician, Sportsman, etc) 10% Concessionary Rate (No change)
 
Other Income e.g. Property Rental Income 22%
SRS withdrawal by a Non-Citizen SRS Member 22%
Interest, Royalty etc Reduced Final Withholding Tax Rate as follows:
Interest: 15%
Royalty: 10% OR
22% if Reduced Final Withholding Tax Rate is not applicable

 

 

  • Short-Term Employment
    If the non-resident is under a short-term employment of 60 days or less, you are not liable for taxes. However, this exemption does not apply to company directors or consultants, professional entertainers or professionals. Professionals will include trainers, subject matter experts, public speakers and counsellors. Director’s fees and other income are taxed at the prevailing rate of 20% (22% from the Year of Assessment 2017) and you are not entitled to tax reliefs.
  • Not Ordinarily Resident (NOR) Scheme
    This Special Expatriate Regime is used to attract global talent to Singapore and also to encourage companies to use Singapore as their base for regional activities. In order to qualify for the NOR Scheme, an individual must be a tax resident in Singapore in the current YA and must not have been a tax resident in Singapore within the three immediate years preceding the current Year of Assessment.

Successful applicants will benefit from the following concessions for 5 consecutive YAs:

– Time apportionment of employment income, attributable to these additional conditions:

– The Individual must spend at least 90 business days overseas pursuant to his or her Singapore employment.
– His or her annual salary with respect to the employment in Singapore must exceed S$160,000 (cash compensation & benefits-in-kind).
– If the tax liability on the apportioned income is below 10% of the employee’s total employment remuneration, the employee will be subject to tax based on the floor rate of 10% of the total employment income.

– Tax exemption on the employer’s contributions to non-mandatory overseas pension fund or social security scheme, subject to the CPF Contribution Capping Rules, provided the employer does not claim tax deductions for such contributions towards the NOR cap.

  • Area Representative Scheme
    Expatriate employees of non-resident companies with representative offices in Singapore, performing major portions of their work responsibilities overseas, are able to reduce taxes considerably if granted the Area Representative Status by IRAS. Such individuals are taxed on their total taxable income attributable to the number of days they are physically in the country, but benefits-in-kind provided in Singapore, such as housing and motor vehicles are fully taxable.
  • Letter of Guarantee (LOG)
    As non-Singapore citizens being employed by entities that are not registered in Singapore, there is a requirement to submit to IRAS on an annual basis, a Letter of Guarantee issued by a bank or an established limited company (not a Representative Office) in Singapore that provides for an estimate of tax payable for the coming Year of Assessment. An advanced assessment will be issued in the absence of the Letter of Guarantee. However, the income tax return will still need to be filed, even after submission of the LOG or where an advance assessment has been issued.
  • Tax Clearance
    With any intentions to leave Singapore for more than three months, non-renewal of relevant work contract, or intention to change jobs, the employer must inform IRAS with the respective employment details and income information by filing Form IR21 on behalf of the relevant employee, at least one month in advance.

 

The employer is required to withhold all payments due to the employee from the day of notification of intention to leave, in order to remit the tax liability to IRAS based on the Tax Clearance Directive issued. The employee will be required to settle any outstanding amount owing to IRAS in full, should there be insufficient withheld monies. Otherwise, IRAS may instruct the relevant bank to remit the tax to IRAS on behalf of the employee, and he or she will be stopped from leaving the country.

 

If you need help with figuring out what laws apply to your taxable income as a non-resident in Singapore, we can help. We provide tax filing services for resident and resident individuals including
– Requisition of forms for new tax payers
– Personal tax computation and filing of income tax
– Claiming applicable deductions and reliefs
– Preparation of Form IR8A (employee remuneration return)
– Preparation of Form IR21 and filing (tax clearance for foreign employees)

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