Concept of GST
Goods and services tax (GST) is a tax on domestic consumption. The tax is paid when money is spent on goods or services, including imports. It is a multi-stage tax which is collected at every stage of the production and distribution chain.
"Output tax" is the GST a registered trader charges on his local supplies of goods and services. The tax is collected by him on behalf of the Comptroller of GST. "Input tax" is the GST that the trader has paid on purchases of goods and services for the purpose of his business. The input tax is deductible from output tax to arrive at the GST payable by the trader, or amount to be refunded to him.
Overview of Singapore GST
GST was first introduced in Singapore on 1 April 1994 at 3%. The GST rate was increased to 4% in 2003 and to 5% in 2004. As announced in Budget 2007, the GST rate was raised to 7% on 1 July 2007.
GST will be levied on:
a) goods and services supplied in Singapore by any taxable person in the course or furtherance of a business; and
b) goods imported into Singapore by any person.
In general, a supply is either taxable or exempt. A taxable supply is one that is standard-rated or zero-rated. Only a standard-rated supply is liable to GST at 7%.
Zero-rating a supply means applying GST at 0% for the transaction. A GST registered trader need not charge GST on his zero-rated supplies, but he is nevertheless allowed a refund of the tax he has paid on his inputs. In Singapore, only "exports" of goods and "international" services are zero-rated.
If a supply is exempt from GST, no tax is chargeable on it. A GST registered trader does not charge his customer any GST on his exempt supplies. At the same time, he is not entitled to claim input tax credits for any GST paid on goods and services supplied to him for the purpose of his business. The "sale and lease of residential properties" and "financial services" are exempt from GST in Singapore.
If you are a trader, visit IRAS' website for information on how to register GST and to download forms.
Read also: How GST and GST Voucher Are Part Of A Fair System (Infographics)