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Second Reading Speech by Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister of State for Finance on The Property Tax (Amendment) Bill 2004, at the Parliament, 17 Nov 2004

19 Nov 2004

1. Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time".

2. The Bill will amend the Property Tax Act to give legislative effect to the following measures:

a) to facilitate electronic transaction via IRAS's new IT system;

b) to empower the Minister to appoint Deputy Chairmen for the Valuation Review Board; and

c) to repeal Section 8 on the incentive to meet energy conservation standard.

3. Sir, I shall now explain the amendments in the Bill.

Facilitating Electronic Transactions via IRAS's New System

4. IRAS will be replacing its information system, Inland Revenue Integrated System (IRIS) with a new system, Inland Revenue Interactive Network (IRIN). To enhance customer service, IRIN will enable the provision of e-services to taxpayers via personalised portals like e-notices and e-applications. As with the Income Tax amendment, the Property Tax Act amendment will also provide electronic notices with the same legal force as paper documents. However, Sir, not all taxpayers are net savvy. To provide safeguards for taxpayers in circumstances where not responding to electronic notices can lead to criminal proceedings, the Property Tax Act will also be amended to require IRAS to serve notices "personally or by registered post" before a person can be prosecuted for non-compliance.

Valuation Review Board

5. Currently, the Minister for Finance is empowered to appoint only one Chairman to preside at the meeting of the Valuation Review Board. To allow the efficient processing of cases, section 26 of the Property Tax Act will be amended to allow the Minister the flexibility to appoint Deputy Chairmen to preside over hearing committees in the authority of the Chairman.

Repeal of Section 8

6. Section 8 of the Property Act was aimed at allowing an owner of a centrally air-conditioned commercial building to get a refund of property tax for approved expenditures to meet the energy conservation standard known as Overall Thermal Transfer Value (OTTV). However, this fiscal incentive has now become obsolete. The OTTV upgrading exercise ended in December 1981 and since then, all new buildings constructed have met the OTTV standards. Therefore, section 8 should be repealed.


7. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move.