Mr Speaker, I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
2. The Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2019 covers seven changes which were announced in this year’s Budget, as well as 18 other changes arising from the periodic review to refine and to clarify Singapore’s income tax regime.
3. We sought views from the public on the draft Bill earlier this year. MOF has evaluated all the feedback received and incorporated them where they are relevant to the draft text of the Bill.
4. Let me start by highlighting the key changes that give effect to the announcements made at Budget 2019 this year.
5. First, as part of the Bicentennial Bonus, a Personal Income Tax Rebate of 50% of income tax payable capped at $200 will be granted to all tax resident individuals for Year of Assessment (“YA”) 2019. Clause 46 of the Bill provides for the change.
6. Second, the Not Ordinarily Resident (“NOR”) scheme, which was introduced in Budget 2002, will lapse after Year of Assessment 2020. The last such NOR status will be granted for YA 2020 and expire in YA 2024, because it is a five year scheme. Individuals who have been accorded the NOR status and continue to meet the conditions will continue to be granted the NOR tax concessions until their status expire. Clause 12 of the Bill provides for the change.
7. Third, to continue to grow Singapore’s asset management industry, the tax concessions relating to Qualifying Funds will be extended till 31 December 2024. These tax schemes will also be refined to keep them relevant and to ease compliance burden. Clauses 8, 15, and 17 of the Bill provide for these changes.
8. As mentioned earlier, the Ministry of Finance regularly reviews and refines the income tax regime. I will now highlight two changes arising from this periodic review of the tax regime which are found in the Bill.
9. First, we will ease the compliance burden for individual tax residents who are self-employed commission agents and are earning gross annual commission income of up to $50,000. This is by introducing an option for self-employed commission agents to apply a prescribed deemed expense ratio, which is set at 25% of their gross commission income. Those who do not take up this option can continue to claim tax deduction based on the actual amount of expenses incurred in the production of their commission income. This change, found in Clause 22 of the Bill, will take effect from Year of Assessment 2020 for income earned in 2019.
10. Second, to align with international trends, and to improve accountability and promote open justice, tax proceedings before the Courts will no longer be heard privately by default. We will also discontinue the practice of redacting taxpayers’ names in published decisions of such judicial proceedings. Clause 38 of the Bill provides for the change. Similar changes will be tabled for the Goods and Services Tax Act (“GSTA”) in relation to proceedings before the Courts under the GSTA. The changes relating to Court proceedings, under the Income Tax Act and the GSTA, will take effect on 1 January 2020.
11. Mr Speaker, I beg to move.