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No Tightening Of Income Tax Policy For Property Transactions

09 Jul 2009

1. The Ministry of Finance wishes to clarify that the proposed change in the Income Tax public consultation document involves no tightening of the current income tax policy for individuals who sell their properties.

2. The only change proposed involves a relaxation of income tax treatment aimed at giving certainty of non-taxation to individuals who do not sell properties frequently. This has been in response to public feedback over the years as under existing practice, such certainty of non-taxation has not been provided.

3. The proposed change is therefore not an anti-speculation measure. It does not mean that individuals who have sold more than one property within a four year period will automatically be subject to income tax. There is no change to the current and long-standing income tax treatment in this regard. Whether individuals who sell properties more frequently are subject to income tax depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. IRAS has in the past brought to tax a small number of individuals -- who regularly transact in property, and whose gain from the disposals is assessed to be income.

4. Singapore does not have a capital gains tax, unlike many countries. Its income tax rules are merely aimed at taxing persons who make an income out of their property transactions. This income tax policy is common among tax authorities internationally, and our local practices are not unique.

5. There is no requirement that individuals must report to IRAS for income tax purpose every time they sell their properties ? this will also continue to apply going forward. IRAS has always conducted its own audits of property transactions for possible cases of assessable income.

6. The only change being proposed in the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2009 is to provide certainty of non-taxation for individual owners who do not sell properties frequently. Specifically, when individuals sell their properties, they will be certain that the gains made from selling their properties will not be subject to income tax if they have not sold any properties in the preceding four years. The lack of certainty in the current rules presently for individuals who sell their properties had led to public feedback for more clarity of income tax treatment. In response to such public feedback, Ministry of Finance is proposing this improvement, as part of its regular review of the Income Tax Act.

7. More details of the Income Tax public consultation can be found here.