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Parliamentary Replies

Estimated Amount of Each Type of Tax Paid by Pass Holders and Other Foreigners Working or Living in Singapore in Last Five Years

10 May 2021
Parliamentary Question by Mr Leong Mun Wai:

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance in the last five years, what is the estimated amount of each type of tax paid by holders of Employment Passes, S Passes, Work Permits, Dependant Passes, Long-Term Visit Passes and other foreigners working or living in Singapore.

Parliamentary Reply by Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat:  

Everyone in Singapore, local or foreign, pays some form of taxes. But we have designed our tax system to be progressive and fair, so that those who are better off pay more taxes. The revenue we collect from all taxpayers is then used to benefit Singaporeans who enjoy a range of subsidies, in areas like education, healthcare and housing.

Therefore the tax system generally does not differentiate by nationality, and we do not have the detailed breakdown of the tax paid by the different groups of foreign taxpayers by pass types, as requested by the Member. Nevertheless, we have extracted some relevant information on the main tax items.

On personal income tax, those who earn more pay a higher proportion of their income in tax. Foreigners, who accounted for about 28% of the resident personal income taxpayers, contributed about 32% of personal income tax revenue or about $3.7 billion per year, on average over the past five years.

On GST, based on an estimate using GST collections in 2018, foreigners residing in Singapore and tourists are estimated to account for over 40% of the net GST borne by households and individuals. This is after taking into account the GST refunded under the Tourist Refund Scheme and the GST Voucher scheme, which is extended only to Singaporean households. 

For property-related taxes, we have a progressive system for residential properties, where higher-value residential properties are subject to higher property tax rates as well as higher Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD). Most properties in Singapore are purchased and owned by locals rather than foreign work pass holders.

But we recognise that there continues to be a strong buying interest from abroad in Singapore residential properties, vis-à-vis the relatively small size of the Singapore market. Hence we had put in place the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) as a property market cooling measure, with foreign buyers subject to higher ABSD rates. Foreigners accounted for about 16% (or $174 million per year) of ABSD revenue from property purchases by individuals on average over the past five years.