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The Lanturn Blog

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ACCOUNTING

What is the Singapore Tax Policy and the Foreign Income Tax?

February 2022

Veli Kattoulas

With the existence of technology and mobile devices, it’s easier than ever to work from anywhere. You’re no longer confined to working at places close to home. These changes were sped up by the ongoing pandemic, making the notion of a truly mobile and remote workforce a reality.  But this diverse workforce and business model may lead to confusion when filing tax returns (Foreign Income Tax), whether at the corporate or individual level. Singapore adheres to the principle of not taxing foreign-sourced income, meaning income earned overseas and not in Singapore.

 

For example, foreign companies with no local footprint in Singapore can remit their foreign income to a Singaporean bank without being taxed. The same principle also goes to non-resident individuals, referring to those who stayed in Singapore for less than 183 days. Such practices encourage foreigners and foreign businesses to utilize Singaporean banks and management firms.

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Singapore Tax Guide for Freelancers and Self-Employed Persons

Freelancers and self-employed individuals are taxed differently in Singapore. Identify your tax obligations and learn basic tax computation in this guide.

 

If you’re a Singapore company or a resident, the rules explained above don’t apply. If your income was received in Singapore, meaning it was remitted, transferred, or brought into Singapore, it would be taxed. Foreign income used to settle business debts held in Singapore will also be subjected to tax. Lastly, the taxable foreign income also includes movable property, such as equipment and raw materials brought to Singapore.

 

There are a few instances where your foreign income can be exempted from being taxed, even if you’re a resident or a Singaporean company. When your income has already been taxed by the foreign jurisdiction where it originated, you no longer need to pay taxes in Singapore. This is known as the “subject to tax rate” condition.

IMAGE: What is the Singapore Tax Policy and the Foreign Income Tax?

 

Another instance is when the highest corporate tax rate of the foreign jurisdiction was at least 15%. For example, a dividend from a corporation based in Hong Kong, where it’s taxed 16%, would not be taxed once the dividend is received in Singapore. This is known as the “foreign headline tax rate” condition.  

 

If your overseas income does not meet the above criteria, your income is still taxable in Singapore. But there is a tax credit available for any tax you did pay overseas. So, let’s say you’re a Singaporean company with an interest income from a subsidiary in Malaysia; the income is already taxed in Malaysia. You qualify for a tax deduction based on the tax paid in Malaysia when you pay your taxes to the Singaporean government.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Singapore’s Goods and Services Tax (GST)

This guide will provide valuable insights into Singapore's GST, individuals or businesses who need to be GST-registered, and the process of filing for GST.

 

Foreign income that’s not earned or transferred to Singapore is most likely tax-free. However, if you’re a Singaporean company or a resident, your foreign transferred income to your bank will most likely be taxed, as outlined above.

 

Let Lanturn guide and assist you when it comes to foreign income tax matters.

 

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