The Singapore Income Tax Department was created in 1947 to administer the Income Tax Ordinance enacted during that year.
Actual assessing of tax only began in November 1948. In the first Year of Assessment, about 40,000 individual tax returns and 1,000 corporate returns were received. The total tax collected for the period 1 January 1948 to 31 December 1949 was $33.2 million.
Following self-government in 1959, the Inland Revenue Department was formed in 1960 when various revenues administered and collected by a number of separate agencies were brought together.
When Singapore attained independence on 9 August 1965, substantial changes were made to the Income Tax Act, which came into effect on 1 January 1966.
By 1970, the number of Acts that came under the Department's purview had increased to twelve. That year also saw the appointment of the first local Commissioner, Mr Hsu Tse-Kwang.
From the 1970s, substantial resources were devoted to staff training. In 1972, microfilming was stepped up to save space and reduce file handling. Property tax billing and collection were also computerised.
IRD's ever-expanding role, together with the rapid increase in the number of taxpayers, resulted in an acute staff shortage. There was a very large backlog of tax not assessed and tax not collected. In addition, IRD staff were highly sought after by the private sector because of their specialised training and skills. IRD needed a new direction to overcome this problem.
Incorporation of IRAS
On 1 September 1992, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) was established by legislation as a statutory board under the Ministry of Finance. With this conversion, IRAS was incorporated by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore Act to take over the functions previously performed by the Inland Revenue Department.
The conversion gave IRAS the autonomy and flexibility to manage its personnel and financial resources. In other words, the conversion marked more than a change in name or a change in organisation. It was a change towards achieving excellence in service to the nation and its people in the area of tax administration.