A Singaporean's Cheat Sheet: How To File and Pay Your Personal Income Tax In Singapore YA 2020
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A Singaporean's Cheat Sheet: How To File and Pay Your Personal Income Tax In Singapore YA 2020

Kenneth Lou
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Singapore Personal Income Tax Guide 2019/2020

If you’re working in Singapore, chances are, you probably need to pay tax.

Government pay taxes Singapore
Source: Giphy

Here in Singapore, we follow a progressive personal tax rate which starts at 0% and maxes out at 22% for employment incomes above $320,000.

For 2020, the deadline for personal income tax submission is 18 April 2020 (Saturday).

Think that this is all too cheem (Hokkien: complex)?

Fret not!

This really simple and essential guide should help you figure out your personal income tax in no time!


TL;DR: How to File Your Income Tax in 2020

Paying your taxes is mandatory as it helps to fund Government spending on common resources (eg. infrastructure like roads, and security like the Singapore Armed Forces and the Singapore Police Force).

It’s pretty straightforward as you can do it online via myTax Portal or by paper filing.

To pay lesser tax, you can do so through various (legal) ways like charity contributions, NSman deductions, CPF Top-ups etc.

If you want to know exactly how much income you have to pay…

You can use the IRAS Personal Tax Calculator to find out!

Resilience Budget: How to Defer Your Income Tax in 2020

As announced during the Resilience Budget, there will be a 3-month automatic deferment of income tax payments for companies and Self-Employed Persons (SEPs).

From 26 March to 31 July 2020, employees can also opt-in to defer your income tax payments — due in May, June, and July 2020 — to ease your cash flow.

But you’ll need to opt-in to defer your income tax payment!

Note: you’re just delaying your payments by three months, your income tax payable still remains the same.

If You Pay By GIRO

Once your request to defer payment is approved, there will be no GIRO deduction in May, June, and July 2020.

Your tax deduction will resume in August, September or October 2020.

And your end-date of your instalment plan will be extended by three months.

 If You Do Not Defer Your GIRO PaymentIf You Defer Your GIRO Payment
Instalment Plan PeriodMay 2020 to April 2021August 2020 to July 2021

If You Pay By Lump Sum

Your payment due date will be deferred for three months and will only start from August 2020.


Do I Need to File My Income Tax?

Before you get started on filing your income tax, it’s important to understand whether you need to file your income tax or not.

1) You Receive a Letter, Form or SMS From IRAS Telling You That You NEED to File Your Income Tax

Pretty straightforward.

This means that you’ll need to file your income tax return via myTax Portal from 1 March to 18 April 2020.

If your employer applied for the Auto-Inclusion Scheme (AIS) for Employment Income.

Any information with regard to your salary will be pre-filled.

But, you’ll still need to complete the other field in your tax return form before submitting it.

2) You Receive a Letter or SMS From IRAS Telling You That You DO NOT Need to File Your Income Tax

If you receive a letter or an SMS telling you that you do not need to file your income tax for the year.

IRAS SMS for No Filing Service

FYI: the SMS will come in around mid-February of each year.

That means that you have been selected for No-Filing Service (NFS) and do not need to file a tax return.

However, if you wish to make any adjustments (for eg. income details or relief claims) you can log in to myTax Portal to file it.

The next thing you’ll need to look out for would be your Notice of Assessment (NOA) or tax bill which will be sent to you around end April.

This will tell you how much income tax is payable.

If there are any discrepancies, you can inform IRAS through the “Object to Assessment” options in myTax Portal.

3) You DO NOT Receive Anything From IRAS

This DOES NOT mean that you don’t have to file your income tax.

You will still need to file a tax return if your:

  • annual net business income exceeded $6,000, OR
  • annual income (inclusive of rental income) was more than $22,000 last year

Just be a good citizen and head over to myTax Portal to file your tax return.

How to File Your Income Tax in 2020

It’s really simple.

There are three components to filing your personal income tax.

1) Income

When it comes to income, there is taxable income and non-taxable income.

Here are some examples of taxable income:

  • Employment Income
  • Salaries
  • Bonuses
  • Director’s Fee
  • Rental Income
  • Withdrawal from SRS

Non-taxable income includes:

  • Winnings from 4D, TOTO, horse betting and soccer betting.
  • Capital gains from stocks and property investments
  • Pensions
  • CPF Life Payouts

You can also refer to this IRAS table for a full list of what’s taxable and what’s not.

2) Deductions

Deductions refer to any allowable expenses you incurred or approved donations you made during the year.

Some examples of deductions include:

  • Business expenses (eg. incurred by employees because of work)
  • Rental expenses
  • Approved donations to recognised charitable organisations and institutions

3) Tax Reliefs

Usually given if you support certain government initiatives with “to promote specific social and economic objectives”.

General Reliefs Available to ALL TaxpayersAmount of Tax ReliefAdditional Reliefs Available to Married/ Divorced/ Widowed Taxpayers
Available to Male and Female TaxpayersAvailable to Female Taxpayers
Course Fees ReliefUp to $5,500NSman (Parent) Relief

Qualifying/ Handicapped Child Relief

Spouse/ Handicapped Spouse Relief
NSman (Wife) Relief

Foreign Maid Levy Relief

Grandparent Caregiver Relief

Working Mother's Child Relief
CPF Cash Top Up
(You and your family member)
Up to $14,000
($7,000 for self, $7,000 for family members)
CPF ReliefDepends
Earned Income ReliefUp to $8,000
Earn Income Relief
(for handicapped person)
Up to $12,000
Handicapped Brother/Sister Relief$5,500 for each handicapped sibling or sibling-in-law
Life Insurance ReliefThe difference between $5,000 and your CPF contribution

or

Up to 7% of the insured value of your own/your wife's life or the amount of insurance premiums paid.
NSman ReliefUp to $5,000
Parent ReliefUp to $9,000 per dependant
Handicapped Parent ReliefUp to $14,000 per dependant
Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) Relief$15,300
Donation250% of donation value
Claim rental expenses on residential property15% of rental income and home loan interest

Some common ones which most of you might qualify for include:

  • Having children
  • Staying with your parents
  • Serving the country through National Service
  • Topping up your CPF account (as a means of planning for your retirement)

You can also refer to this IRAS table for a full list of qualifying reliefs, expenses, donations to make sure you don’t miss out on any!

Do note that there is a limit to the amount of tax relief which you can receive.

The income tax relief ceiling is currently $80,000.

Personal Income Tax Rates for Residents 2020

Once you’ve filed your income tax.

You’ll want to see how much you’re getting taxed.

As mentioned earlier, tax residents are taxed at progressive tax rates.

Here’re the personal income tax rates for residents:

Chargeable IncomeIncome Tax Rate (%)Gross Tax Payable (S$)Total Income Tax in this income bracket (S$)
First $20,000
Next $10,000
0
2
0
200
200
First $30,000
Next $10,000
-
3.50
200
350
550
First $40,000
Next $40,000
-
7
550
2,800
3,350
First $80,000
Next $40,000
-
11.50
3,350
4,600
7,950
First $120,000
Next $40,000
-
15
7,950
6,000
13,950
First $160,000
Next $40,000
-
18
13,950
7,200
21,150
First $200,000
Next $40,000
-
19
21,150
7,600
28,750
First $240,000
Next $40,000
-
19.50
28,750
7,800
36,550
First $280,000
Next $40,000
-
20
36,550
8,000
44,550
First $320,000
In excess of $320,000
-
22
44,550-

As you can see, the more you earn, the more you’re taxed.

Which is kind of logical and pragmatic if you think about it…

It’s also worth noting that Singapore boasts one of the lowest tiered tax rates in the world for a country with a pretty high standard of living.

Personal Income Tax Rates for Non-Residents 2020

Non-residents are taxed at a flat rate of 15% or the resident rates — whichever results in a higher tax amount on your employment income

Director’s fees and other income are taxed at 20%.

Here’re the personal income tax rates for non-residents:

Type of IncomeNon-resident individual tax rate /
withholding tax rate from YA 2017
Director's remuneration22%
Income derived from activity as a non-resident professional
(consultant, trainer, coach, etc.)
15% of gross income or 22% of net income
Income derived from activity as a non-resident public entertainer
(artiste, musician, sportsman, etc.)
10% concessionary rate (No change)
Other income
e.g. property rental income
22%
SRS withdrawal by a non-citizen SRS member 22%
Interest, royalty etc. Reduced final withholding tax rate (subject to conditions) as follows:
Interest: 15%
Royalty: 10%

OR

22% if reduced final withholding tax rate is not applicable.

Note: you’re also not entitled to tax reliefs.

You can also refer to this IRAS site for tax rates for non-residents if you’d like more information.


Commonly Asked Questions About Income Tax

If this is your first time paying income tax, you probably have a lot of questions.

SpongeBob SquarePants Thinking
Source: SpongeBob SquarePants | Giphy

Here are some commonly asked ones.

Who Is Subjected to Income Tax?

Generally, income tax applies to people in Singapore who are tax residents and are deriving some form of:

  • Employment (Salary or Bonuses)
  • Trade, Business, Profession or Vocation
  • Property or Investments
  • Other Sources (e.g. annuities, royalties, winnings or estate or trust income)

How Do I Know If I’m A Tax Resident?

You will be treated as a tax resident for a particular YA if you are a:

  • Singapore Citizen who normally resides in Singapore except for temporary absences
  • Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) who has established a permanent home in Singapore
  • Foreigner who has stayed or worked in Singapore (excluding director of a company) for 183 days or more in the previous year, i.e. year before the YA.

Are My Investment Dividends Taxable?

This is a very common question which we always get in the Seedly Community.

Non-Taxable Dividends

Generally, the following dividends are not taxable:

  1. Dividends paid on or after 1 Jan 2008 by a Singapore resident company under the one-tier corporate tax system except for co-operatives;
  2. Foreign dividends received in Singapore on or after 1 Jan 2004 by resident individuals. If an individual resident in Singapore receives foreign-sourced dividends through a partnership in Singapore, these dividends may be exempt from Singapore tax if certain conditions are met. For details, please refer to Tax Exemption for Foreign-Sourced Income;
  3. Income distribution from Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), except distributions derived by individuals through a partnership in Singapore, or from the carrying on of a trade, business or profession in REITs.

Taxable Dividends

The following dividends are subject to income tax:

  1. Dividends paid by co-operatives;
  2. Foreign-sourced dividends derived by individuals through a partnership in Singapore. Conditions may apply. For more details, please refer to Tax Exemption for Foreign-Sourced Income;
  3. Income distribution from Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) derived by individuals through a partnership in Singapore, or from the carrying on of a trade, business or profession in REITs

Need More Help or Clarification?

Why not ask the friendly Seedly Community?

There’re always people actively discussing all things income tax-related!

About Kenneth Lou
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