1. The Ministry of Finance is seeking public feedback on the draft Property Tax (Amendment) Bill 2017.
2. We invite you to comment on the proposed policy changes and the drafting of legislative amendments which will give effect to these policy changes. Your views on the drafting will help us improve the clarity of the legislative amendments.
SCOPE OF THE CONSULTATION EXERCISE
3. The draft Property Tax (Amendment) Bill 2017 provides for three changes to the Property Tax Act. The amendments are intended to update the legislation and to improve tax administration. Specifically, the changes will:
a) Clarify that machinery that is used for providing the setting / controlled environment for business and industrial processes to take place in the building or for storage of articles is to be assessed, together with the land or building on which it has been affixed, for property tax. (In other words, such machinery is not exempted from property tax.) If approved by the Parliament, this change is to take effect from 1 January 2018. The amendment will provide clarity and certainty to taxpayers.
b) Provide the basis to implement an “opt-out” approach for digital property tax notices. The legislative amendment will take effect from gazette date. The widespread use of computers and mobile devices allows taxpayers to receive digital instead of hardcopy tax notices. The use of digital notices gives taxpayers greater convenience, security and timeliness of alert. To enable more taxpayers to benefit from digital channels, the Act will be amended so that taxpayers who wish to continue receiving hardcopies can opt out while others will receive digital tax notices. (The current provisions of the Act require taxpayers to provide specific consent before the Comptroller can issue them with digital tax notices instead of hardcopy notices.) Taxpayers will have the flexibility to manage their preference for hardcopy or e-copy at any time.
c) Provide clarity and to enhance the information gathering powers of the Comptroller of Property Tax, the Chief Assessor and the officers authorised by either of them in that behalf. The change will allow the Comptroller of Property Tax, the Chief Assessor and their authorised officers to:
i. Require persons to attend personally before the Comptroller, Chief Assessor or an officer authorised by them, to provide information at a time and place specified by them.
ii. Require any person to be examined orally and provide information for investigation by the Comptroller, Chief Assessor or an officer authorised by them, if the person appears to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances concerning the person’s or another person’s properties.
iii. Enhance the penalties for failure to comply with a request of information made by the Comptroller, Chief Assessor or an officer authorised by them.
This amendment will strengthen IRAS’ enforcement and information-gathering powers.
4. The summary table lists the above three changes and explains the amendments to the Property Tax Act.
5. We would appreciate your participation to ensure that the consultation exercise is productive. Respondents are requested to observe these guidelines:
a. please provide your name and the organisation you represent (if any) to enable us to follow up with you to clarify any issues, if necessary;
b. keep your comments clear and concise;
c. please use the prescribed template provided to help us understand your feedback better;
d. your comments should focus on how the legislative amendments can be better written to make them clearer and to make compliance easier; and
e. as far as possible, please explain your points with illustrations, examples, data or alternative formulations of the amendments.
6. This draft legislation is released only for the purpose of consultation and should therefore not be used for individual or business decisions as it does not represent the final legislation. All comments received during the consultation exercise will be reviewed thoroughly and, if accepted, will be incorporated into the Bill for introduction in Parliament.
PERIOD OF CONSULTATION
7. The draft Property Tax (Amendment) Bill 2017 for the changes in paragraphs 3a to 3c are available for public consultation from 4 May to 25 May 2017*. We regret that comments received after 25 May 2017* will not be considered for incorporation into the final Bill.
8. We encourage all interested participants to submit your comments via our online submission form as this is the easiest and quickest way for your comments to reach us. You can also send us your comments, using the prescribed template , through:
b. fax to 6337 4134; or
c. post to:
Ministry of Finance
100 High Street, #10-01
SUMMARY OF RESPONSE
9. We will publish a summary of the main comments we receive on the Ministry Of Finance’s website, together with our responses, by June 2017. The identity of respondents will not be disclosed in the summary.
DOCUMENTS TO DOWNLOAD
10. For further reference, please click here to download the relevant documents relating to this public consultation exercise.
*Update, 19 May 2017: The consultation period has been extended to 25 May 2017.