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27% of foreigners pay income taxes

22 Jun 2012

There has been continuing interest in the idea that only 1.7% of foreigners in Singapore pay personal income tax. This arose from an estimate in an earlier commentary by Prof Lim Chong Yah in some national newspapers, which stated that only 1.7 per cent of the non-resident workforce in Singapore earned wages high enough to make them liable to pay income tax.

Prof Lim’s estimate appears to have been based on the small number of taxpayers who are classified as non tax-residents. This group refers only to taxpayers who worked for less than 183 days in Singapore a year. There is a much larger group of non-residents or foreigners who work and live in  Singapore for more than 183 days and are hence classified as tax-residents.

Taking all employed non-residents into account except foreign domestic workers (FDWs), about 27% paid income taxes in the most recent year of assessment. The proportion would be 22% if we were to include the FDWs. While foreigners accounted for about one-fifth of all income taxpayers, they also contributed  more than one quarter of our total personal income taxes.

Lim Bee Khim (Ms)
Director (Corporate Communications)
Ministry of Finance