The Ministry of Finance is seeking public feedback on 37 proposed legislative amendments under the draft Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2015. We invite you to comment on the proposed amendments which come under two categories:
a) 21 legislative amendments that give effect to tax policies announced in Budget 2015. Your feedback will help us improve the draft legislation with regard to its clarity or scope for efficient compliance by taxpayers; and
b) The policy and drafting of the proposed 16 legislative amendments unrelated to Budget 2015.
SCOPE OF THE CONSULTATION EXERCISE
2. The draft Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2015 incorporates 37 proposed legislative amendments to the Income Tax Act, including:
(a) Budget 2015 changes. These are the tax changes announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, in the 2015 Budget Statement. The key Budget tax changes include:
i) Extend and enhance the Merger & Acquisition (“M&A”) scheme for five years till 31 March 2020 to provide greater support to SMEs in their strategic acquisitions. The M&A allowance rate was increased from 5% to 25%, with the acquisition cost cap lowered from $100m to $20m. The total amount of the M&A allowance remains unchanged at $5m;
ii) Introduce a new International Growth Scheme for five years till 31 March 2020, to provide more targeted support, via a concessionary tax rate of 10% for internationalisation activities undertaken by larger Singapore companies;
iii) Enhance the Double Tax Deduction for Internationalisation scheme to cover qualifying manpower expenses incurred for Singaporeans posted to new overseas entities;
iv) Enhance progressivity of the personal income tax rate structure of tax resident individual taxpayers by increasing the marginal tax rates for individual tax residents with chargeable income exceeding $160,000, and introducing a new 22% tax rate, with effect from YA 2017; and
v) Extend the 250% tax deduction for qualifying donations for three years from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2018, to continue to encourage giving. The tax deduction rate will be further enhanced to 300% for qualifying donations made in 2015 as part of the SG50 jubilee celebration.
(b) Non-Budget 2015 changes. The changes to existing tax policies and administration arise from on-going reviews of the income tax system. The changes include:
i) Exempt from tax the deemed withdrawals from Supplementary Retirement Scheme (“SRS”), of up to $400,000, upon death or on the ground of terminal illness. This is to ensure parity on the amount of SRS savings that could have been withdrawn tax-free had the amount been withdrawn over the full 10-year period. The change ensures that the SRS member is not unduly disadvantaged in the event of death or terminal illness;
ii) Align the personal income tax rate for individual non-tax-residents to the new top marginal tax rate of individual tax residents of 22%.
4. The summary table provides a brief description of the tax changes and explains the amendments to the Income Tax Act. Please refer to the draft Income Tax (Amendment) Bill and its accompanying Explanatory Statement for details.
5. We would appreciate your support and participation to ensure that the consultation exercise is productive and focused. Respondents are requested to observe these guidelines:
a. Please identify yourself as well as the organisation you represent (if any) so that we may follow up with you to clarify your comments, if necessary.
b. Be clear and concise in your comments.
c. Focus your comments on how the legislative amendments can be better written to make them clearer and to make compliance easier, or on how the non-Budget tax policy changes can be improved.
d. Use the prescribed template provided to organise your feedback.
e. As far as possible, please explain your points with illustrations, examples, data or alternative formulations of the amendments.
6. This draft legislation is released only for the purpose of consultation and should therefore not be used for individual or business decisions as it does not represent the final legislation or regulations. All comments received during the consultation exercise will be reviewed thoroughly and, if accepted, will be incorporated in the Bill for introduction in Parliament.
PERIOD OF CONSULTATION
7. The draft Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2015 is available for public consultation from 26 June to 24 July 2015. We regret that comments received after 24 July 2015 will not be considered, as they will not be received in time for incorporation into the final Bill.
8. We encourage all interested parties to submit your comments via our online submission form. The online submission form is the easiest and quickest way for your comments to reach us. You can also send us your comments, using the prescribed template, through:
a. email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or
b. fax to 6337 4134; or
c. post to:
Ministry of Finance
100 High Street, #10-01
Attention: Tax Policy Directorate
SUMMARY OF RESPONSE
9. We will publish a summary of the main comments received on the Ministry of Finance’s website, together with our responses, by the end of August 2015. The identity of respondents will not be disclosed in the summary.
DOCUMENTS TO DOWNLOAD
10. For further reference, please click here to download the relevant documents for this public consultation exercise.