Public Consultation on Amendments to the Income Tax Act to Incorporate Changes to our Exchange of Information (EOI) Regime
1. The Ministry of Finance is conducting a public consultation on the proposed amendments in the draft Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2013. These legislative amendments relate to the Ministry of Finance’s 14 May 2013 press release announcing the measures that Singapore will be making to its Exchange of Information (EOI) regime to strengthen its framework for international tax cooperation.
SCOPE OF THE CONSULTATION EXERCISE
2. The key changes in these proposed legislative amendments under the draft Income Tax (Amendment) bill are:
a) Extend Exchange of Information (EOI) assistance in accordance with the internationally agreed Standard to all our existing tax agreement partners, without having to individually update our bilateral tax agreements with them;
b) Allow IRAS to obtain bank and trust information from financial institutions for EOI purposes without having to seek a Court Order. While Singapore has been able to respond promptly to most requests for information from its foreign partners, removing the requirement for a Court Order will further streamline the administration of EOI under the Standard. It will not undermine the basic safeguards to taxpayers, as IRAS will continue to assess the validity of the requests with respect to the Standard, and taxpayers will continue to have the right of appeal.
c) Conclude and implement an Intergovernmental Agreement with the United States to facilitate Singapore financial institutions’ compliance with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
3. The summary table provides a brief description of the tax changes and explains the amendments to the Income Tax Act. Please refer to the draft Income Tax (Amendment) Bill and its accompanying Explanatory Statement for details.
4. We welcome your feedback to ensure that the changes that we will be making will lead to a smooth implementation of our EOI regime. 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) We would appreciate clear and concise comments.
c) Please focus your comments on how the legislative amendments can be better written to make them clearer and to enable easier compliance.
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 proposed amendments.
5. 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 or regulations. 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
6. The draft Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2013 is open for public consultation from 18 July to 31 July 2013. We regret that comments received after 31 July 2013 will not be considered as they will not be in time for incorporation into the final Bill.
7. We encourage all interested participants 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
8. We will publish a summary of the comments received on the Ministry of Finance’s website, together with our responses, by the end of August 2013. The identity of respondents will not be disclosed in the summary.
DOCUMENTS TO DOWNLOAD
9. For further reference, please click here to download the relevant documents for this public consultation exercise.