Guide to Taxes in Singapore (2017 Update)

Guide to Taxes in Singapore
Guide to Taxes in Singapore

It’s common knowledge that Singapore is a great place to live and work in. Aside the entirety of Southeast Asia as your personal playground, with the city being only a two hour flight from many countries. For example, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, just to name a few.


But one of the aspects that makes Singapore one of the most attractive locations on Earth in the eyes of foreigners looking for a place to relocate to is its unique, people friendly tax laws. So here we will present an overview of the tax rates for both residents and foreigners. It will include which rebates they are eligible to receive and tips that you can use to save money on taxes.


First, let’s make an important note about Singapore’s tax regulator, the IRAS (Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore). A foreigner is deem as a tax resident if he or she stays in Singapore for more than 183 days per year. This includes weekends, holidays and vacations. They treat everyone who is not a Singaporean as a foreigner in their tax policy. So a person, depending on their tax residency status, may be tax on all income that they have receive in Singapore.


1. Not Ordinarily Resident (NOR)


A special group of people called the NOR can be given better tax treatment for a period of five years.


In order to qualify for this, an individual must:

–          Be a Singapore tax resident in the year of assessment

–          Have been a resident for at least three years in the past three assessment year

The NOR person is only required to be a tax resident for the first year, and not the whole 5 year qualifying period.



–          You only pay income tax on the income that that corresponds with the days you spend in Singapore, as long as you stayed spent more than 90 days outside and earn more than $160,000 total.


–          You get tax exemptions on your overseas pension funds contributed by your employer


2. For People staying for less than 183 days


Only the income earne in Singapore is tax at 15% or progressive resident rates. But note that the income of directors is tax 20% instead.


3. Less than 61 Days


IRAS treats people who are in Singapore for 60 days or less as non-residents and doesn’t tax them. The exceptions are company directors, coaches, trainers, entertainers, or anyone who is classified as a professional.


Every foreigner with a work pass of one year or more is treated as a tax resident from the start by the IRAS, then when the employment comes to an end, the status is reviewed again. If the total duration of the work was less than 183 days, then their status is change to non resident


Tax Deadlines in Singapore


All tax returns must me filed by April 15 every year, if using the paper system, and April 18 if using the online portal. In special cases, you can extend the deadline, but the application stating the reasons and all your details have to reach IRAS by March 31.


Income Tax Reliefs for Tax Residents

Even though the personal income taxes in Singapore range from 0 to 20%, very low in comparison to other countries, if one takes advantage of the various government schemes and reliefs on things like, child support, insurance policy, educational courses and others.


Tips to save on Tax

–          Donate to a state approved charity

–          If you’re a tax resident, you can get tax reliefs

–          Under the area representative scheme, you work for a foreign employer and travel overseas for work, your taxes will be suspended for the period that you’re out


The first way that you can save on taxes is by donating to a state approved charitable organization. Here you’ll be able to claim all expenses incurred on your income from employment. You’ll still be spending money, but it will be on a good cause. Furthermore, it will still probably come to be lower than that you will have to spend on taxes. Thus, it really is a win-win situation. The specific amount that you can claim is 2.5 to 3 times the amount you donate.


If you’re an employee, then you’re able to claim tax deductions on all expenses that you pay that are necessary for your job. Be it travel costs, entertainment (such as business meetings or other methods to entertain clients), and subscriptions to services. In this case, you can only claim expenses if:


  1. Your employer did not reimburse you
  2. The expenses are incur when performing your official duties
  3. The costs were not capital or private


In order to claim any of the above, you’ll need to make sure that you keep perfect records of all purchases, donations, or any other expenses you’ve incurred from five years before. For instance, for employment expenses incurred in 2016, you’ll have to keep and retain them until the 31st of December 2021. You should also have records and accounts supported by receipts, vouchers and any other documents which may be asked for as support. The IRAS will not accept figures which are guesses or estimates. Here’s the IRAS’ own guide to keeping proper records.


Tax Clearance


If you plan on getting another job within Singapore or leaving the country altogether, then you are legally required to settle all your taxes. Your current employer will have to contact IRAS on your behalf. They will then inform them that you have settled all your taxes in a process known as tax clearance.


The way it works is like this:

  1. You give your employer ample notice, one month is the norm. They will then inform the IRAS who works out your tax liabilities up to the last day of your work. Which will also give you time to settle all your taxes


  1. Your employer will hold all the money they owe you, salaries, wages, allowances etc. From the day you give notice of your leaving in order to ensure you pay your taxes. They will also provide IRAS your employment and income details by filing an IR21 form. The IR21 form will be process between 7 to 21 working days. This depends on what method your employer use to file it.


  1. Once your tax liability has been identified, IRAS will give your employer a Tax Clearance Directive. They will remit the amount payable, and if the amount owed is more than they give the IRAS, the surplus will be given to you


  1. IRAS sends you the tax bill. If you don’t pay, you will not be able to leave Singapore. You will be able to do so after paying and have a release letter from the IRAS

Have you submitted your income tax for the last year? If you have yet to do so, please do it as soon as possible because the submission date is already over and if you do not do it soon, there will be penalty charges.

After submitting your income tax, you will receive your notice of assessment in the next few months. Do set aside some money to pay for your taxes! If for some reason the money to pay for your tax is use up, consider getting a short term loan. You can get a fast loan from licensed money lenders in Singapore. With so many money lenders in Singapore, we have help you to hunt for the best moneylenders in Singapore. If you are want to get a loan, get it from the best. Contact us today at +65 6871 4268 to find out who we think are the best money lenders around.

We will be more than happy to assist you on any questions you may have. You can drop us a message here or call us! 🙂

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this is a simple and easy reading post on tax. thanks for it. keep up the good work!
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