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The Basics of Taxation in Singapore: What Expats Should Know in 2022

Taxation in Singapore—For various reasons, investors choose to base their activities in Singapore. Most people want to start their businesses since it’s so simple. Furthermore, Singapore’s tax system is a significant influence. The low corporate and individual tax rates, generous exemptions from capital gains and one-tax system, and the country’s extensive network of double-taxation agreements all contribute to the favorable business climate in Singapore.

As a result, taxes in Singapore are levied on a per-person basis. Companies and people in Singapore are mostly taxed on their income earned in Singapore. Taxes are levied on foreign-sourced income (profits, dividends, service income, etc.) when sent or presumed to be sent to Singapore unless the money has already been taxed in a jurisdiction with a headline tax rate of at least 15%. Despite its seeming simplicity, the topic of where one gets one’s money can be complicated and complex in practice. There is no one-size-fits-all guideline for every situation.

The nature of the profits and the transactions that generate them determine whether or not the gains are generated in Singapore or sourced from Singapore. In 1994, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was enacted to increase the government’s ability to raise money through taxes. Current GST rates are 7%. Singapore’s fiscal position is strengthened by a well-balanced combination of taxes on consumption and income, which lessens the country’s sensitivity to fluctuations in the economy.

Singapore’s Income Tax Act is the supreme authority on taxation for corporations and individuals.

Since its inception in 1960, the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) has been renamed the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). The administration and collection processes were streamlined and improved due to consolidating all significant revenue collection agencies into a single entity. An effective tax administrator and a pleasant tax collector are also hallmarks of IRAS.

Taxes on income, property, commodities, and services, estates (which have been abolished as of February 15th, 2008), wagering, and stamp duties are all collected by IRAS. For IRAS, it’s a part of its job to provide feedback on tax policy, as well as the technical and administrative ramifications that come along with it. Additionally, IRAS keeps a close eye on the external economic and tax environment to identify policy review and modifications opportunities. According to the new law, taxes should be competitive to encourage entrepreneurship and growth. As part of its non-revenue activities, IRAS provides advice on property value and assists in preparing tax legislation for Canada.

The History of Taxation in Singapore

Income tax has been debated since well before World War I, and it was briefly implemented to provide money for the war effort during World Wars I and II. As a result, the income tax was pushed to the back burner because of its unpopularity.

After World War II, the need for new infrastructure and new revenue sources was stressed, and the introduction of income tax was given additional momentum.

In 1947, the British colonial government in Singapore implemented Income Tax. Taxes were imposed on income under the Income Tax Act of 1948. For British colonies, the Model Colonial Territories Income Tax Ordinance 1922 was devised. So Singapore’s tax rules have a common ancestry with those of Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, as well as the rest of the Commonwealth. The goal of Singapore’s quick industrialization and development of an export-oriented industrial base after its independence in 1965 was to spur economic growth and job creation.

As a result, in the 1960s, tax incentives were used to promote labor-intensive sectors. In 1967, Congress passed the Economic Expansion Incentives Act. Companies that boosted their exports earned a tax exemption of up to 90% on the additional revenue. Foreign loan interest paid by a local industrial company was exempt from federal tax.

It was a government priority in the 1970s to encourage expansion in the service industry. With the 1973 exclusion of interest on Asian dollar bonds, tax policy impacted the financial sector. Shipping was also a significant focus of the campaign. Tax breaks were granted for income derived from the operation and charter of Singaporean ships. In addition, new taxes were enacted to aid in the rehabilitation of metropolitan areas. In addition, a variety of property taxes were abolished. Social concerns played a role in 1970s tax policy as well. This fund’s donations are tax-deductible, and there are additional tax benefits.

A more developed Singapore in the 1980s led to an increase in the cost of doing business there. Efforts were made to improve the economy’s competitiveness by introducing new measures. Government incentives, policies, and taxes were all under consideration. Tax cuts for corporations and individuals became the norm in the United States in the late 1980s. The business tax rate was reduced from 40% to 33% in 1987.

During this period, there were significant shifts in tax policies. Direct taxes were being reduced, while indirect taxes were taking center stage. In 1994, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was implemented to respond to the growing trend of indirect taxation. A consumption tax is levied on all goods and services produced in Singapore, excluding financial services and residential properties. Lowering corporate and individual tax rates took off during this period.

Innovation and entrepreneurship have been at the forefront of the 2020s. There have been and will continue to be a variety of initiatives aimed at luring top-notch workers and capital from outside the country. Companies pay a maximum tax rate of 17%, while individuals pay a top tax rate of 20%. Group relief and a single-tier corporate tax system were introduced during this time.

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