12 Tips to Effective Tax Savings

Don’t Miss Out On Incentives

Tax planning, by nature, involves effective use of available and legitimate strategies to minimise tax liabilities. This could be done by either deferring your tax or to avoid tax using certain tax-break provisions. Following several tax crimes in Singapore, including tax evasion on rental income and joss paper company, PIC Fraud from management consultancy business, tax planning is believed to be one mechanism that is of paramount importance for the tax payer in contemporary business context.

In Singapore, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) has developed business-friendly tax policies and streamlined tax filing procedures with the objective of helping businesses to effectively manage their tax affairs. In fact, IRAS has provided a comprehensive set of tax benefits for person who wish to set up business in Singapore, including the following:

Tax Exemption for Startups

Startup tax exemption 

Before 2020, a 100% exemption on first the $100,000 in chargeable income and a 50% exemption on the next $200,000 of chargeable income. From 2020, a 75% exemption on the first $100,000 in chargeable income and a 50% exemption on the next $100,000 in chargeable income would be applied for newly incorporated companies that meet the qualifying criteria, up to its first three consecutive years of assessment (“YAs”).  

To enjoy it, the company must:

  • Be a Singapore tax resident
  • Have no more than 20 shareholders (if consisting of more than one corporate shareholder, a minimum 10% of shareholdings must be held by individual shareholders).

– Partial Tax Exemption

Before 2020, a 75% exemption on the first $10,000 in chargeable income and a 50% exemption on the next $290,000 in chargeable income would be applied for companies meeting criteria for the startup exemption. From 2020, a  75% exemption on the first $10,000 in chargeable income and a 50% exemption on the next $190,000 in chargeable income would be applied for qualifying companies. Despite its lower percentage than the startup exemption, the company can still get up to $152,500 of chargeable income exempted and is deemed beneficial to the corporate taxpayer.

– Corporate Income Tax Rebate

For YA 2013, 2014 and 2015, companies will be granted 30% corporate income tax rebate capped at $30,000. To further promote this benefit, IRAS has extended the rebate period until YA 2017 and increase the rate to 30 % up to a maximum cap of $20,000 for YA 2016 and YA 2017.

For YA 2018 & 2019, there is a 40% rebate (capped at $15000) & 20% rebate (capped at $10000) respectively

– Productivity and Innovation Credit (“PIC” Scheme)

Companies can enjoy 400% tax deductions or allowances of up to a maximum of $400,000 per each YA, on qualifying expenditures incurred on improving their equipment, R&D, registration of intellectual property rights or even training.  Business expenditures that qualify under PIC have to be incurred on the last day basis of YA 2018. 

Please see the table below from the IRAS:

– International (or Regional) Headquarters Award

Headquarters of local or international companies are able to win the corporate tax rebate (the rate of 15% for regional and 10% for international headquarters) if they provide a competitive plan for conducting their activities in Singapore accentuating the increase of their business spending and contribution to local employment. This incentive is valid for 3 years after which it can be extended for 2 more years.

– Allowance for Land Intensification

An initial tax allowance of 25% and an annual tax allowance of 5% on qualifying capital expenditures incurred for the construction or renovation or extension of a qualifying building or structure.

Qualifying table below from the IRAS::

Click here for more specific to the criteria and procedures.

Mergers & Acquisitions Allowance (For acquisitions completed from 1 Apr 2016 – 31 Mar 2020)

Allowance of 25% of the value of the acquisition will be provided for any merger and acquisition, subject to a maximum of $10 million for each YA. The limit on acquisition value was increased from $20m to $40m. To enjoy it, the company must be:

  • Incorporated in SG
  • A Singapore tax resident
  • Continue trade/business from the date of acquisition
  • Hired a minimum of 3 local employees for at least 12 month period before acquisition
  • Not connected to targeted company at least 2 years before acquisition date
  • Get prior approval from Economic Development Board

– Integrated Investment Allowance

Companies that invest in equipment overseas for using it in business or trade can get the capital and additional allowances if certain criteria are met:

  • The project must get approval
  • The company must use the equipment for such activities as manufacturing, technical/engineering services, construction, development, research and others

Pioneer Incentive

Corporate tax exemption on income from qualifying activities. To prove the pioneer status, you need to provide the EDB with a plan describing benefits for the local economy: increased business spending, involvement of cutting-edge technologies, boosting research activities and development, creation of a number of skilled jobs, and so on.

The tax exemption for separate trades are determined on case by case basis based on the following factors:

  • Size of turnover of separate trade
  • Past records of profit margins earned
  • Whether profit margins of separate trade follow market trends for particular industry
  • Importance of separate trade to the company
  • Nature of separate trade – is it a new or established activity?

– Development and Expansion Incentive

The company can enjoy a concessionary rate of 5 or 10% (instead of the normal corporate tax rate of 17%) for its expansion profit during a period of 5 years provided the company:

  • Applies for status of development and expansion
  • Gets approval from government
  • Employment created (skills, expertise, experience)
  • Total business expenditure contribution to economy
  • Commitment level to growing capabilities in Singapore (E.g. Fixed assets for manufacturing firms, technology etc.) 

Tax Incentive for Finance & Treasury Centres

8% corporate tax rate deduction would be applied on fees, interest, dividends and gains from business involving financial or treasury management. Withholding tax exemption on interest payments on loans from banks and approved network companies for FTC activities.

Some assessing criteria include:

  • Establishing substantive activities in Singapore (i.e. Foreign Exchange, Management of interest rate etc.)
  •  Scale of operation for FTC companies
  • Creation of jobs

Global Trader Program

Singapore’s government makes efforts to boost the country’s trade sector. For this goal, they launched a program that allows companies engaged in global trading to pay a lower corporate (i.e. 5 or 10%) during 3 or 5 years if they manage to prove their commitment to creating PME (i.e. Professional/managerial/executive) jobs. If you

  • Have a worldwide trade network;
  • Are aimed at expanding your business pending;
  • Opt to rely on Singapore’s logistics, banking, and trade services;
  • Are interested in employing and training local manpower

As a summary, Singapore obviously is an ideal country for you to set up your business as a tax-saving or tax-efficient state. Get your tax planning started early so you can take advantage of as many of the above tax benefits as you can. Find out more how S C Mohan PAC can help you with your tax planning.

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