Singapore Budget 2019 Summary

The following tax changes were announced by the Minister for Finance, Mr. Heng Swee Keat, in his Budget Statement for the Financial Year 2019, which was delivered in Parliament on Monday, 18 Feb 2019.

For Individuals

Personal Income Tax Rebate for resident individual taxpayers for Year of Assessment (“YA”) 2019
As part of the Bicentennial Bonus, a Personal Income Tax Rebate of 50% of tax payable will be granted to all tax resident individuals for YA 2019 (i.e. for income earned in 2018). The rebate will be capped at $200 per taxpayer.

Allow resident individual taxpayers to claim Grandparent Caregiver Relief in respect of a handicapped and unmarried dependent child, regardless of the child’s age
To provide greater support and recognition to working mothers with handicapped and unmarried dependent children, taxpayers will be allowed to claim Grandparent Caregiver Relief in respect of a handicapped and unmarried dependent child, regardless of the child’s age, if they have met all other conditions. This will take effect from YA 2020 (i.e. for income earned in 2019).

Lapse the Not Ordinarily Resident (“NOR”) scheme
The NOR scheme will lapse after YA 2020. The last such NOR status will be granted for YA 2020 and expire in YA 2024. Individuals who have been accorded the NOR status will continue to be granted NOR tax concessions until their NOR status expires, if they continue to meet the conditions of the concessions.

For All Businesses

Extend the Writing Down Allowance (“WDA”) for acquisition of qualifying Intellectual Property Rights (“IPRs”) under section 19B of the Income Tax Act (“ITA”)
In recognition that IPRs are important creators of value in a knowledge-based economy, the WDA under section 19B will be extended to cover capital expenditure incurred in respect of qualifying IPRs acquired on or before the last day of the basis period for YA 2025.

Extend the income tax concessions for Singapore-listed Real Estate Investment Trusts (“S-REITs”)
To continue to promote the listing of REITs in Singapore and to strengthen Singapore’s position as a REITs hub in Asia, the existing tax concessions for S-REITs will be extended till 31 December 2025. The sunset clause for the tax exemption on S-REITs distributions received by individuals will be removed. All other conditions for the income tax concessions remain the same. MAS will provide further details of the change by May 2019.

Extend the income tax concessions for Singapore-listed Real Estate Investment Trusts Exchange-Traded Funds (“REITs ETFs”)
The existing tax treatment accorded to REITs ETFs will be extended till 31 December 2025. The sunset clause will be removed for the tax exemption on REITs ETFs distributions received by individuals. All other conditions for the income tax concessions remain the same. MAS will provide further details of the change by May 2019.

Lapsing of Designated Unit Trust (“DUT”) scheme after 31 March 2019
Existing DUTs will continue to receive the tax deferral benefits under the DUT scheme, on and after 1 April 2019, if they continue to meet all the conditions.

Lapsing of Approved Unit Trust (“AUT”) scheme after 18 February 2019
Existing AUTs will continue to receive the tax concession under the AUT scheme for a period of five years from YA 2020 to YA 2024. This will allow existing AUTs sufficient time to transit to alternative tax incentive schemes, where relevant.

Goods and Services Tax

Tighten the GST Import Relief for Travellers
Travellers who spend less than 48 hours outside Singapore will get GST import relief for the first $100 (instead of $150 currently) of the value of goods bought overseas. Travellers who spend at least 48 hours outside Singapore will get GST import relief for the first $500 (instead of $600 currently) of the value of goods bought overseas. This will take effect for travelers arriving in Singapore from 12.00am, 19 February 2019.

Extend the GST remission for S-REITs and Singapore-listed Registered Business Trusts (“RBTs”) in the infrastructure business, ship leasing and aircraft leasing sectors
To continue facilitating the listing of S-REITs and RBTs in the infrastructure business, ship leasing and aircraft leasing sectors, the existing GST remission will be extended till 31 December 2025. All conditions for the GST remission remain the same. MAS will provide further details of the change by May 2019.

Property Tax

Lapse the Property Tax (Tourist Projects) Order
Schemes are reviewed regularly to ensure relevance. The Property Tax (Tourist Projects) Order will lapse after 18 February 2019.

For full details of the Budget Speech, please refer to the Singapore Budget website.