Parliamentary Question by Ms Anthea Ong:
To ask the Minister for Finance (a) how many employers have participated in the Business and Institutions of a Public Character Scheme and what is the total number of hours volunteered by employees based on rebates claimed to date; and (b) whether there is a plan for an "Individual and Institutions of a Public Character Scheme" to encourage more volunteerism by individuals beyond the tax rebate for donations.
Parliamentary Response by Minister for Finance Mr Heng Swee Keat:
The Business and Institution of a Public Character (IPC) Partnership Scheme (BIPS) was introduced in Jul 2016 to encourage businesses to support their employees to offer their expertise and skills to IPCs. Through BIPS, businesses can enjoy a 250% tax deduction on basic wages and related expenses incurred when their employees volunteer or provide services to IPCs.
Between Jul 2016 and Dec 2017, about 3,200 employees from 48 businesses contributed about 17,000 volunteering hours through BIPS projects. To encourage more businesses to come on board, we will continue to promote the scheme and simplify the claims process. For example, we will provide an option for businesses to claim tax deductions on wages based on a fixed man-hour rate. This will provide greater flexibility to businesses who may find it tedious to compute the pro-rated wages of employees who had volunteered.
Ms Anthea Ong asked if similar tax deductions could be given to individuals to encourage volunteerism. The design of the scheme facilitates IPCs with specific needs to benefit from the expertise of staff in diverse businesses, including consultancy, legal and accounting services, courier services.
We continue to encourage individuals to volunteer and contribute out of passion and heart for the community.
Under the SG Cares movement, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, together with its partner agencies, support volunteerism through various ways. These include volunteer training, and matching of skills and passions to areas of need, to create a more fulfilling and engaging experience for volunteers. Individuals and corporates with outstanding contributions to the community are also recognised through awards, to inspire more to join them. Grants, such as Our Singapore Fund, are available to support ground-up projects which meet social or community needs.
We will continue to review the effectiveness of our strategies and explore further ways of encouraging volunteerism, to build a caring society where the community steps forward to support one another.