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Benefits for stay-at-home mothers fair, says ministry

10 May 2005

I REFER to Ms Margaret Koh's letter, 'Stay-at-home mums deserve more tax reliefs' (ST, May 4), asking whether husbands of stay-at-home mothers can claim tax reliefs for working mothers, and whether the amount of wife and child relief can be increased.

The recent package of marriage and parenthood incentives is designed to benefit families at different stages of their children's lives, for a wide range of family circumstances and practices.Families with stay-at- home mothers enjoy many of the benefits, such as:

  • Parenthood Tax Rebate - $10,000 for the second child, $20,000 for the third and fourth child each;
  • Baby Bonus - $3,000 for the first child, up to $9,000 for the second child and $18,000 for the third and fourth child each;
  • Foreign Domestic Worker Levy Concession - $95 per month; and
  • Infant-care/childcare subsidies.

These benefits are far more substantial than the wife and child relief amounts, which represent a form of recognition but are not intended to cover actual costs incurred.

Stay-at-home mothers do not benefit from tax reliefs because they pay no taxes.The Working Mother's Child Relief is a recognition and encouragement for married women who wish to continue working after having children.This is not to say that married women should be discouraged from staying at home to attend to their children. Singaporeans have pointed out in this newspaper (ST, Sept 1, 2004) that there are intangible benefits that stay-at-home mothers enjoy over working mothers, such as the satisfaction of seeing key milestones in their child's development. Each mother should make her own decision based on her particular circumstances and the Government recognises that this is a matter of personal choice.

From our extensive consultation last year, we understand that what mothers ideally want is to have more flexible working arrangements so that they can both provide for their family and spend time with their children.We have actively encouraged employers to put in place family-friendly practices through financial incentives like the Work-Life Works (WoW) fund and greater recognition for family-friendly firms.

We thank Ms Koh for her feedback.