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Singapore Budget 2015 Summary

Dear Reader,
Welcome to our Singapore Budget 2015 summary.

The following is the Budget 2015 Summary were announced by Minister for Finance, Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam in his Budget Statement for the Financial Year 2015 which was delivered in Parliament on Monday, 23 February 2015.
TAX RELATED
For Companies
Simplifying pre-registration GST claim rules for GST-registered businesses
To ease compliance, the claiming of pre-registration GST will be simplified to allow a newly GST-registered business to claim pre-registration GST in full on the following goods and services that are acquired within six months before the GST registration date of the business:

  1. Goods held by the business at the point of GST registration; and
  2. Property rental, utilities and services, which are not directly attributable to any supply made by the business before GST registration.

Thus, businesses no longer have to apportion the pre-registration GST on the above goods and services even if these goods and services have been used to make supplies straddling GST registration or these goods have been partially consumed before GST registration. This is provided the use of these goods and services after GST registration is for the making of taxable supplies and not exempt supplies.
For other purchases of goods and services prior to GST registration, including those acquired more than six months before the GST registration date of the business, existing pre-registration GST claim rules will apply.
This change will take effect for businesses that are GST-registered from 1 July 2015.
IRAS will release further details of the change by June 2015.
Extending and enhancing the Mergers & Acquisitions (“M&A”) scheme
To further support companies, especially small and medium enterprises, to grow via strategic acquisitions, the scheme will be extended till 31 March 2020 with the changes below.

  1. The M&A allowance rate will be increased to 25%;
  2. The cap on the value of qualifying acquisitions for the M&A allowance per YA will be revised to $20 million;
  3. Stamp duty relief on the transfer of unlisted shares will correspondingly be capped at $20 million on the value of qualifying M&A deals, which works out to a cap of $40,000 of stamp duty per FY; and
  4. No change to the tax allowance on transaction costs incurred on qualifying M&A, which will remain at 200% subject to an expenditure cap of $100,000 per YA and written down in one year.

Enhancing the Double Tax Deduction (“DTD”) for Internationalisation scheme
The scope of qualifying expenditure supported under the DTD for Internationalisation scheme will be enhanced to include qualifying manpower expenses incurred for Singaporeans posted to new overseas entities. This provides greater support to businesses expanding overseas as well as creates more skilled jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans to work overseas.
The amount of qualifying manpower expenses to be allowed DTD under the scheme will be capped at $1 million per approved entity per year, subject to conditions.
Businesses will have to apply to IE Singapore (“IE”) to enjoy the DTD on qualifying manpower expenses.
This change will apply to qualifying manpower expenses incurred from 1 July 2015 to 31 March 2020.
IE will release further details by May 2015.
Introducing the International Growth Scheme
To provide greater and more targeted support for larger Singapore companies in their internationalisation efforts, the Government will introduce a new International Growth Scheme (“IGS”).
The IGS aims to support high potential companies in their growth overseas, while they continue to anchor their key functions in Singapore.
Under the IGS, qualifying Singapore companies will enjoy a concessionary tax rate of 10% for a period not exceeding five years on their incremental income from qualifying activities. Such companies will be expected to engage in internationalisation activities and provide opportunities for Singaporeans to gain greater international exposure.
This new scheme will be administered by IE.
The approval window for the new scheme will be from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2020.
IE will release further details by May 2015.
Extending and enhancing the Angel Investors Tax Deduction (“AITD”) scheme
The scheme will be extended till 31 March 2020 to continue to encourage angel investors to invest in start-up companies and help them to grow.
In addition, to allow more investments to be eligible for the scheme, new qualifying investments made from 24 February 2015 to 31 March 2020 that are co-funded by the Government under SEEDS or BAS will also be allowed to qualify for the AITD.
All other conditions of the scheme remain the same.
Other tax incentives included

  • Refining the tax incentives for venture capital funds and venture capital fund management companies
  • Extending the Investment Allowance – Energy Efficiency (“IA-EE”) schemes
  • Extending the Development and Expansion Incentive for International Legal Services (“DEI-Legal”) scheme
  • Introducing a review date for the Approved Foreign Loan (“AFL”) incentive
  • Introducing a review date for the Approved Royalties Incentive (“ARI”)
  • Introducing a review date for the Writing Down Allowance (“WDA”) scheme on capital expenditure incurred on the acquisition of an indefeasible right to use (“IRU”) of any international telecommunications submarine cable system under Section 19D of the ITA
  • Extending the tax deductions for collective impairment provisions made under the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) Notices
  • Extending and refining the tax incentive scheme for insurance businesses
  • Improving the Enhanced-Tier Fund tax incentive scheme
  • Extending the tax concessions for listed Real Estate Investment Trusts (“REITs”)
  • Extending and enhancing the GST remission for listed REITs, and listed Registered Business Trusts (“RBTs”) in the infrastructure business, ship leasing and aircraft leasing sectors
  • Extending and enhancing the Maritime Sector Incentive (“MSI”)
  • Withdrawing the concessionary tax rate on income derived from offshore leasing of machinery and plant under Section 43I of the ITA
  • Withdrawing the Approved Headquarters incentive under Section 43E of the ITA

For Individuals
Enhancing progressivity of the personal income tax rate structure of tax resident individual taxpayers
The changes to the tax rates are made to enhance progressivity of our personal income tax rate regime and strengthen future revenues. This new personal income tax rate structure will take effect from YA 2017.
Top marginal tax rate will be raised from 20 per cent to 22 per cent for chargeable income above S$320,000. Marginal tax rates for chargeable incomes above S$160,000 to S$320,000 by 1-2 per cent.
Personal income tax rebate for tax resident individual taxpayers
A personal income tax rebate of 50%, capped at $1,000 per taxpayer, will be granted to all tax resident individual taxpayers for YA 2015.
Extending and enhancing the 250% tax deduction for donations
To build a stronger culture of giving and as part of the SG50 jubilee celebration, the tax deduction rate for qualifying donations made to IPCs and other qualifying recipients in 2015 will be increased from the current 250% to 300%.
The tax deduction will revert to 250% for qualifying donations made from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2018 to IPCs and other qualifying recipients.
Vehicle-related Taxes
– Petrol duty rates will rise by S$0.15/S$0.20 per litre from Feb 23, 2015 onwards
– One-year road tax rebate, to offset higher petrol duties
– Carbon emissions-based vehicle scheme will be extended for two years to encourage shift to greener vehicles
BUSINESSES SUPPORT
3-Year Transition Support Package
The 3-Year Transition Support Package was introduced in Budget 2013 and due to expire in 2015. It comprised of the following:
(i) Wage Credit Scheme (WCS);
(ii) Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) Bonus; and
(iii) Corporate Income Tax (CIT) Rebate
For detail, please see Singapore Budget 2013
The WCS and CIT Rebate will be extended for two years (2016-2017) but at reduced support levels. This will give businesses more time to restructure and adjust to rising business costs. However, the PIC Bonus will be discontinued after Year of Assessment (YA) 2015.
Under the WCS introduced in Budget 2013, the Government co-funds 40% of the wage increases that are given to Singaporean employees from 2013 to 2015. Wage credit will be given only for Singaporean employees who earn a gross monthly wage of up to $4,000.
In Budget 2015, the WCS scheme will be extended for two years (2016 – 2017), with the Government co-funding at 20% of the wage increases for Singaporean employees. A summary of the changes is provided in the table below.
In Budget 2013, a 30% CIT Rebate capped at $30,000 per YA was granted to companies for three years from YA 2013 to YA 2015 to relieve their business costs.
In Budget 2015, the 30% CIT Rebate will be provided for another two YAs (YA 2016 and YA 2017), with a reduced cap of $20,000 per company per YA.
STRENGTHEN RETIREMENT ASSURANCE, AND SUPPORT FOR MIDDLE-INCOME FAMILIES
Enhanced CPF savings
– CPF salary ceiling raised to S$6,000 from 2016
– Supplementary Retirement Scheme contribution cap raised
– CPF contribution rates for older workers raised
– Additional 1 per cent interest on first S$30,000 of CPF balances, on top of existing 1 per cent extra interest on first S$60,000 of balances
Silver Support Scheme
– Income supplement for bottom 20-30 per cent of Singaporeans, depending on lifetime wages, household support and flat type
– Cash supplement of S$300-S$750 every three months
– Will be implemented around Q1 2016, support will be offered through the GST Voucher – Seniors’ Bonus in the meantime
More help for households
– Reduced foreign domestic worker concessionary levy
– One-off rebate for service and conservancy charges
– GST Voucher: S$50 increase across the board
Education
– Child Development Accounts, Edusave Accounts and Post-Secondary Education Accounts for young Singaporeans will get top-ups
– National exam fees for full-time Singaporean students in government-funded schools will be fully waived
– More support will be extended to needy students
– New partner operator scheme to improve teacher quality and reduce fees at participating childcare centres
Extension and Enhancement of the Temporary Employment Credit (TEC)
Higher special employment credit for workers aged 65 and above, to support re-employment beyond 65.
The TEC was announced in 2014 as a one-year measure to help employers cope with higher wage costs arising from a 1 percentage point increase in the CPF employer contribution rate from 1 January 2015. Under the original TEC, employers would receive an offset of 0.5% of wages for Singaporean and Singapore Permanent Resident workers in 2015.
The TEC will be raised to 1% of wages in 2015, or an additional 0.5 percentage points on top of the original TEC. The TEC will also be extended by 2 years, to help employers adjust to cost increases associated with the increase in CPF salary ceiling and the employer CPF contribution rates for older workers.
The CPF Board will automatically assess employers’ eligibility for the TEC, based on their regular monthly CPF contributions for their employees.
TEC payouts will be made in October (for wages paid from January to June of the same year) and April (for wages paid from July to December of the preceding year).
MOM-RELATED
Defer 2015 levy increases for S Pass and Work Permit Holders
Levy increases for both S Pass and Work Permit Holders that were previously scheduled for 1 July 2015 will be deferred by one year, to 1 July 2016, with the exception of Work Permit Holder levies in the Manufacturing and Construction Sectors (Tables 1 and 2).
SKILLSFUTURE INITIATIVES
SkillsFuture marks a major new phase of investment in our people, throughout life. It will increase Government funding on continual education and training from about $600 million per year over the last five years, to an average of over $1 billion per year from now to 2020. Part of this increase in expenditure will be met by a $1.5 billion top-up to the National Productivity Fund.
A summary of the SkillsFuture initiatives announced in Budget 2015 is provided below. More details can found on the SkillsFuture website (www.skillsfuture.sg ).

  1. SkillsFuture Credit account for Singaporeans to tap on for work-skills related courses. This will have an initial credit of S$500, for all Singaporeans those aged 25 and above, with regular top-ups expected in future.
  2. SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme to match polytechnic and ITE graduates with employers for on-the-job training and mentorship, and provide funding support for both trainees and employers.
  3. For mid-career Singaporeans, higher education and training subsidies of at least 90 per cent for MOE and WDA courses, for those aged 40 and above.
  4. Deepening skills and encouraging mastery with SkillsFuture Study Awards, SkillsFuture Fellowships and the SkillsFuture Leadership Development Initiative.
  5. Stronger industry collaboration that will involve training institutions, unions, trade associations and employers. Government will develop sectoral manpower plans with the industry and form a pool of SkillsFuture Mentors to boost SMEs training capabilities.

ENHANCEMENTS TO SUPPORT INNOVATION AND INTERNATIONALISATION
In Budget 2015, we will strengthen support for innovation, internationalisation, as well as mergers & acquisitions, through the following initiatives:
(A) Strengthening Grant Support
(B) Creating and Capturing Greater Value from R&D
(C) Catalysing Enterprise Financing
(D) Support for Internationalisation
(E) Encouraging Scale
For details on SPRING’s CDG, CIP and SEEDS/BAS, please visit the SPRING website (http://www.spring.gov.sg/ )
For details on IE’s MRA and GCP grants, DTD for Internationalisation Scheme, IGS and IFS, please visit the IE website (http://www.iesingapore.gov.sg/ )
OTHERS
Investing in economic and social infrastructure for the future, to create new competitive strengths, a liveable city and quality healthcare.
– Development of Changi Airport Terminal 5
– Public transport system improvements
– Increase acute and community hospital beds and nursing homes capacity

Budget