Planning on working in Singapore? Here’s an overview of your tax obligations as an expat.
13 August 2017| Last updated on 13 August 2017
Singapore is a popular destination for expats as living and working there has many benefits. While it’s not tax-free, the tax policies are simple and not too high.
How much taxes you have to pay on your income will depend on your residency status. You are regarded as tax resident if you’ve been working in Singapore for at least 183 days in a calendar year, including weekends, public holidays and any temporary absences.
Once you complete three years, you will be regarded as tax resident even if you haven’t spent at least 183 days in your first and third year.
As a tax resident, the tax rates will depend on your income and they are progressive, so the more you make, the higher the rate. The rates range from zero to 20 per cent.
Aside from your salary, you will also be taxed on any bonuses, income from renting property and employment benefits, such as housing and stock options.
Note that you only have to pay tax on income earned within Singapore, so any foreign-sourced income is exempt.
If you have spent less than 183 days, meaning you are a non-resident, then you will be taxed either a flat rate of 15 per cent or the progressive resident rates, whichever is a higher tax amount. Director's fees and other income are taxed at a higher rate of 20 per cent. Additionally, you won’t be entitled to any tax reliefs.
If you have spent 60 days or less in Singapore, then you won’t be charged any taxes. However, this exemption doesn’t apply if you are a director of a company, a public entertainer or a professional.
Personal tax reliefs
Expats can save significantly on their taxes if they take advantage of the personal tax reliefs available. The following can determine possible reliefs:
- Disabilities of family members
- Life insurance
- Foreign maid levy
- Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS)