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Responsibilities as an employer

At a glance - Tax treatment of various lump sum payment

Nature Taxable/ Not taxable
1 Death gratuities/ injuries or disability payments/ Workmen compensation

Not taxable

2 Gratuity paid for completing "x" years of service Taxable

Report the gratuity in the year which the employee completes the "x" years of service and is eligible for payment
3

Payment made to a potential employee to induce him to join the company.

Sum may be a negotiated sum, or based on the notice-in-lieu that he has to pay his existing employer to leave the company without service notice, etc

Taxable

4 Retrenchment payment made to compensate for loss of employment

Not taxable

More information available

5 Retirement benefits 

Taxable unless they are received from the following tax exempt pension schemes/funds:

  • Government pension schemes under any written law relating to pensions in Singapore (including the Pension Act, Singapore Armed Forces Act and Parliamentary Act).
  • CPF/designated funds.

For approved pension and provident funds, the retirement benefits accrued from such funds up to 31 Dec 1992 will be tax-exempt when they are paid out on the date of retirement based on the statutory retirement age.

More information available

6

Payment made to employee for entering into covenant which restricts employee's rights

Not taxable

7 Salary in lieu of notice/notice pay paid by employer to employee to compensate for early termination Taxable

 

Retrenchment payment

Q1 Are the severance payments in the retrenchment package taxable?

Severance payments that are made to compensate for the loss of employment are not taxable to the retrenched employee because they are capital receipts. This applies even if the payments to compensate for the loss of the employment are provided for in the contract of service or collective agreement, or are computed based on the number of years of service with the employer.

However, other payments such as salary in-lieu of notice, ex-gratia and gratuity for past services are not payments for loss of office. They are payments for services and are therefore taxable.

Q2 Are outplacement support provided as part of the retrenchment package taxable?

The type of outplacement support may vary from one company to another. Generally outplacement support may include providing counselling and moral support to affected employees and to assist them in their search for jobs. If the outplacement support arises from a retrenchment exercise, it is not taxable when the following conditions are met:

a) The outplacement support is provided as part of a retrenchment package to compensate for loss of employment and is only available to employees who are retrenched;

b) The only expense incurred by the employer to provide the outplacement support is the fees paid to the outplacement agents or cost incurred to provide other forms of outplacement support, whichever the case may be;

c) Any employee who is eligible for outplacement support but chooses not to accept it is not entitled to any other compensation in lieu, whether in cash or otherwise.

Q3 What should the employer do if the company is undertaking a retrenchment exercise?

If an employer is undertaking a retrenchment exercise, it should check with IRAS on the taxability of the payments once the package has been finalised by sending an email to taxqueries@iras.gov.sg with the details below:

  • the circumstances why the staff are leaving the company
  • detailed breakdown of the package and state the basis of arriving at each component
  • the number of employees affected (breakdown to be given for Singaporeans and Foreigners)
  • the name and contact number of the person administering the payout

IRAS will confirm the taxability of each component. With this confirmation, the employer needs to declare only the taxable items in the annual Form IR8A  :

Employers who are not participating in the Auto-Inclusion Scheme for Employment Income

Please complete ‘item d4’ of the Form IR8A by providing the breakdown of the retrenchment benefit package, reason and basis of arriving at the payment. 

Employers who are participating in the Auto-Inclusion Scheme for Employment Income

Please complete ‘item d4’ of the Form IR8E by providing the breakdown of the taxable items.  State the date of approval if clarification has been sought from IRAS on the taxability of the retrenchment benefit components. 

See information on what you should do when the retrenched employees include foreigners.

Retirement benefits

Q1 What is the tax treatment of pension and provident funds or plans approved under Section 5 or Section 13(1)(x) of the Income Tax Act?

Following the tax changes introduced in 1993, all benefits paid out of the approved funds to the employees upon retirement are taxable at the time of receipt. However, the amount accrued from such funds up to 31 Dec 1992 remains tax-exempt. The tax-exemption will apply when they are paid out on the date of retirement based on the statutory retirement age. Any amount paid before retirement will not be eligible for tax exemption.

For employers with the approved pension and provident funds, they will be allowed a deduction of the contributions made from 1 Jan 1993. Existing employees who are required under the present rules of the approved funds to make contributions will be allowed a deduction of their contributions. Employers who wish to set up approved pension or provident funds under Section 5 of the Income Tax Act as a means to retain staff may apply to the Comptroller of Income Tax for approval with details of their proposed funds. 

Q2 For pension and provident funds or plans approved under Section 5 or Section13(1)(x) of the Income Tax Act, how do we compute the quantum of tax-exempt retirement benefits accrued up to 31 Dec 1992 for each employee?

The quantum of tax-exempt retirement benefits can be computed as follows:

(a) Where the fund or plan provides for contributions to be made based on actuarial or other acceptable basis to enable a level of defined benefits to be paid, the last drawn salary on the date of retirement is used;

(b) Where the fund or plan provides for contributions to be made to the individual accounts of the employees, the amount standing in the account as at 31 Dec 1992 plus interest accrued at CPF interest rates until the date of retirement.

Q3 For the taxable portion of the retirement benefits payable to an employee under the approved pension/provident fund, can it be converted into a pension for life or paid over a period of time?

Yes, the taxable portion can be converted into a pension for life or paid over a period of 5 years and earned income relief will be allowed.


 

 

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Last Updated on 27 August 2013


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