Goods and Services Tax (GST): What It Is and How It Works

Goods and Services Tax or GST is a broad-based consumption tax levied on the import of goods (collected by Singapore Customs), as well as nearly all supplies of goods and services in Singapore. In other countries, GST is known as the Value-Added Tax or VAT.

GST exemptions apply to the provision of most financial services, the sale and lease of residential properties, and the importation and local supply of investment precious metals. Goods that are exported and international services are zero-rated.

Taxable and Non-Taxable Goods and Services

The table below lists the categories and types of taxable and non-taxable supplies.

  Taxable Supplies  Non-Taxable Supplies    
 

Standard-Rated Supplies

(7% GST) 

Zero-Rated Supplies

(0% GST) 

Exempt Supplies

(GST is not applicable) 

Out-of-Scope Supplies

(GST is not applicable)  

 
Goods 

Most local sales fall under this category.

E.g. sale of TV set in a Singapore retail shop

 

Export of goods

E.g. sale of laptop to overseas customer where the laptop is shipped to an overseas address 

Sale and rental of unfurnished residential property 

Importation and local supply of investment precious metals

Sale where goods are delivered from overseas to another place overseas 

Private transactions

See Out-of-scope supplies for more information. 

 
ServicesMost local provision of services fall under this category.

E.g. provision of spa services to a  customer in Singapore

Services that are classified as  international services

E.g. air ticket from Singapore to Thailand (international transportation service) 

Financial services

E.g. issue of a debt security

 
 

 

 

Businesses Required to Register for GST

As a business, you must register for GST when:

  • Your taxable turnover for the past 12 months ending Mar, Jun, Sep or Dec (referred to as "quarter") is more than $1 million; or
  • You are making or intend to make taxable supplies and you can reasonably expect your taxable turnover in the next 12 months to be more than $1 million (e.g signing of a sales contract or business agreement)

If your business does not exceed $1 million in taxable turnover, you may still choose to voluntarily register for GST after careful consideration.

Please refer to our flowchart (compulsory or voluntary registration) or e-Tax Guide Do I Need To Register? (194KB) for additional details.

Charging and Collecting GST

Once you have registered for GST, you must charge GST on your supplies at the prevailing rate. This GST that is charged and collected is known as output tax . Output tax must be paid to IRAS.

The GST that you incur on business purchases and expenses (including import of goods) is known as input tax . If your business satisfies the conditions for claiming input tax, you can claim the input tax on your business purchases and expenses.

This input tax credit mechanism ensures that only the value added is taxed at each stage of a supply chain.

A GST-registered manufacturer imports leather from overseas for the manufacture of a bag. The manufacturer sells the bag to a GST-registered retailer. Thereafter, the retailer sells the bag to a consumer.
This is how GST works at each stage of the value chain:

1. Manufacturer

Pays GST to Singapore Customs for the import of leather

Import value = $100

Import GST paid = 7% X $100=$7 (input tax to claim from IRAS)

Charges and collects GST for sale of bags to retailer

Selling price to retailer = $200

GST charged to retailer = 7% X $200 = $14 (output tax payable to IRAS)

2. Retailer

Pays GST to Manufacturer

Purchase value = $200

GST paid = 7% X $200=$14 (input tax to claim from IRAS)

Charges and collects GST for sale of bags to end consumer

Selling price to end consumer = $300

GST charged to end consumer = 7% X $300 = $21 (output tax payable to IRAS)

3. End-consumer

Pays GST to Retailer

Purchase value = $300

GST paid = 7% X $300=$21

End consumer is not GST-registered. Therefore, he cannot claim the GST paid on his purchase from IRAS.

Paying Output Tax and Claiming Input Tax Credits

As a GST-registered business:

  1. You must submit your GST return to IRAS one month after the end of each prescribed accounting period. This is usually done on a quarterly basis.
  2. You should report both your output tax and input tax in your GST return.
  3. The difference between output tax and input tax is the net GST payable to IRAS or refunded by IRAS.

GST Infographic

  • Why must Singapore implement GST?

    GST was introduced in 1 Apr 1994 to enable Singapore to shift its reliance from direct taxes to indirect taxes. GST has also enabled Singapore to sustain a lower income tax rate. Being a tax on consumption, and not income, GST inherently encourages savings and investments.
  • I am not GST-registered. Can I claim GST incurred on my business purchases?

    No, if you are not a GST-registered business, you cannot claim the GST incurred on your purchases.

     

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