IRAS Annual Report FY2018/19 - Tax Revenue Collection Up 4.4%; A Digital IRAS for a Taxpayer-Centred Experience
The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) collected $52.4 billion in tax revenue in Financial Year (FY) 2018/19, an increase of 4.4% from the previous FY. The increase was underpinned by Singapore’s economic expansion of 3.1% in 2018. Tax revenue collected supported funding of key Government programmes to build an innovative and connected economy, a quality living environment and a caring and inclusive society.
The cost of tax collection was kept low under one cent, at 0.80 cents for every dollar collected.
Tax Revenue – Facts and Figures
IRAS’ collection of $52.4 billion in FY2018/19 represents 71.1% of the Government Operating Revenue and 10.6% of Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product.
Total Income Taxes (Corporate Income Tax, Individual Income Tax and Withholding Tax) made up 56% of IRAS’ collection in FY2018/19. Income Taxes collected in FY2018/19 were $29.4 billion, 7.9% higher than the $27.2 billion collected in FY2017/18. Corporate Income Tax collection rose on account of better corporate earnings. Individual Income Tax collection was higher due to the introduction of an overall relief cap of $80,000 per Year of Assessment (YA) in YA 2018, and the cessation of the one-off personal tax rebate given in YA 2017.
In line with the growth in private consumption expenditure in 2018, Goods and Services Tax (GST) collection for FY2018/19 increased marginally by 1.6% to S$11.1 billion.
Property Tax collection for FY2018/19 was $4.6 billion, up 4.7% higher from FY2017/18. Stamp Duty collection for FY2018/19 fell by 6.1% to $4.6 billion due to a lower number of property transactions.
Betting Taxes – comprising Betting Duty, Casino Tax and Private Lotteries Duty – totalled S$2.7 billion in FY2018/19, 0.9% lower than FY2017/18.
A Digital IRAS for a Taxpayer-Centred Experience
IRAS actively harnessed technologies and digital communication channels to make interactions with taxpayers more convenient and personalised. IRAS is the first government agency to enable its virtual assistant “Ask Jamie” to provide SingPass-authenticated, case-specific assistance to taxpayers. The service garnered 4,700 logins since its inception in August 2018. Taxpayers may also digitally connect to an officer via IRAS’ live chat facility.
As part of IRAS’ digitalisation efforts, the tax filing experience was further simplified for taxpayers. This year, 42,000 parents with children born in 2018 enjoyed the convenience of having their child relief automatically pre-filled (on a 50:50 basis between the parents) in their electronic returns.
IRAS’ electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS) system was also refreshed during the year. The new system allows tourists to use their passports as tokens to make GST refund claims in 3 easy steps at the self-help kiosks at the airport, doing away with the need for them to carry multiple eTRS tickets. Besides greater convenience and shorter claim processing times, tourists now enjoy a fully paperless GST refund experience.
Following the success of a pilot, IRAS extended its New Company Start-Up Kit to all newly incorporated companies in October 2018. The New Company Start-Up Kit provides IRAS, Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG)-related information that would support new companies in meeting their tax obligations. More than 30,000 companies are expected to benefit from this implementation.
To simplify and digitise the tax filing process for businesses, IRAS leveraged Application Programming Interface (API) to enable the seamless submission of GST returns and transaction listings directly from taxpayers’ accounting software to IRAS. Piloted in July 2018, the API service streamlines taxpayers’ GST filing process. IRAS also embedded analytics into its GST refund process since August 2018 to detect and better manage compliance risks.
The co-location of IRAS’ services with those of ACRA and ESG at the new Taxpayer and Business Service Centre (TBSC) at Revenue House has provided an integrated Whole-of-Government service experience for businesses. Businesses can now access various services at the TBSC including business registration, tax matters, application for CorpPass and business advisory assistance for SMEs.