1. The Ministry of Finance is seeking public feedback on the draft GST (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 GST (Amendment) Bill 2017 provides for six changes to ease business compliance, clarify existing legislation or improve tax administration. The changes are:
(a) Extend customer accounting for GST-registered Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and their Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) to movable assets bought together with a non-residential property from the same seller. Currently, to ease cash flow, customer accounting applies to a GST-registered supplier’s sale of non-residential property to a REIT or its SPV. It does not apply to movable assets sold together with the non-residential property. A GST-registered supplier who sells a furnished non-residential property to the REIT or its SPV will have to apportion the selling price into the value of the unfurnished property and that of the movable assets. The change will ease business compliance by dispensing with the need for apportionment.
(b) Provide for basis to implement an “opt-out” approach for digital tax notices. The wide availability of technology 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 for the GST treatment for the sale of Government land with existing buildings to be demolished to follow the approved use of the land, rather than the approved use of the building. Currently, when Government land is sold with an existing building to be demolished, the GST treatment on whether the supply is exempt or taxable depends on the approved use of the building, which might not reflect the approved use of the land. The change will provide more consistency in tax treatment for this category. In addition, reference to the land zone “Rural Centre and Settlement” is removed as the land zone is no longer in use.
(d) Extend customer accounting to prescribed supplies commonly used in fraud schemes. Under customer accounting, GST-registered sellers will not charge GST on the sale of prescribed supplies to GST-registered customers. Instead, their GST-registered customers will be required to account to the Comptroller of GST for the GST chargeable. This will deter fraud schemes where the seller absconds with the GST collected, and businesses further along the supply chain continue to claim input tax. Customer accounting will be applicable for supplies of mobile phones, memory cards and off-the-shelf software, which are commonly used in fraud schemes. These supplies will be prescribed in subsidiary legislation.
(e) Provide for electronic record keeping requirements and additional requirement for invoice details for selected businesses. The change is intended for strengthening tax administration, and will assist the Comptroller in verifying that GST transactions are properly accounted for.
(f) Provide for the monthly penalty of $200 for late submission of GST returns to commence immediately after the filing due date. Currently, a monthly penalty of $200 is imposed on outstanding returns starting from one month after the filing due date. The change will help to deter the late filing of tax returns.
4. The summary table provides a brief description of the tax changes and explains the amendments to the GST Act and related subsidiary legislation.
5. We would appreciate your participation to ensure that the consultation exercise is productive. Respondents are requested to observe these guidelines:
a. Please identify yourself as well as the organisation you represent (if any) so that we may follow up with you to clarify your comments, if necessary.
b. Be clear and concise in your comments.
c. Focus your comments on how the legislative amendments can be better written to make them clearer and to make compliance easier.
d. Use the prescribed template provided to organise your feedback.
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 in the Bill for introduction in Parliament.
PERIOD OF CONSULTATION
7. The draft GST (Amendment) Bill 2017 and the related draft subsidiary legislation are available for public consultation from 12 May to 4 June 2017. We regret that comments received after 4 June 2017 will not be considered, as they will not be in time for incorporation in the final Bill.
8. We encourage all interested parties to submit your comments via our online submission form. The online submission form is the easiest and quickest way for your comments to reach us. You can also send us your comments, using the prescribed template through:
a. email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or
b. fax to 6337 4134; or
c. post to:
Ministry of Finance
100 High Street, #10-01
Attention: Tax Policy Directorate
SUMMARY OF RESPONSE
9. We will publish a summary of the main comments received on the Ministry of Finance’s website, together with our responses. 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, 4 Aug 2017: The summary of responses will be published by end September 2017.