Supplies Exempt from GST

Supplies that are exempt from GST include: The provision of financial services; The sale and lease of residential properties; and The import and local supply of investment precious metals (IPM) (effective 1 Oct 2012). GST need not be charged or paid for exempt supplies. Financial Ser

Supplies that are exempt from GST include:

  • The provision of financial services;
  • The sale and lease of residential properties; and
  • The import and local supply of investment precious metals (IPM) (effective 1 Oct 2012).

GST need not be charged or paid for exempt supplies.

Financial Services

The Fourth Schedule to the GST Act provides the list of financial services that are exempt from GST. Examples of these financial services include:

  • Charges by banks for the operation of bank accounts
  • Exchange of currency
  • Issue / sale of shares or bonds
  • Provision of derivative that does not lead to any delivery of goods or services
  • Provision of loans
  • Provision of life policy by an insurance company

For more information and the full list of exempt financial services, please refer to the list of financial services (170KB).

Provision of Financial Services By Non-Financial Institutions

Deposit of Money in a Bank

This is considered a loan provided by you to the bank. The interest income received from the bank should be reported as your exempt supplies in Box 3 of the GST Return (Total Value of Exempt Supplies).

Exchange Gain/Loss Arising from Transacting in Foreign Currencies

You may sell goods to your customers and invoice them in a foreign currency (e.g. US dollars). When your customers make payment in foreign currency and you exchange the foreign currency for Singapore Dollars, exchange gains or losses may arise. You should report the absolute value (i.e. drop negative sign, if any) of net realised exchange gain/loss for each prescribed accounting period as your exempt supply in Box 3 of your GST return.

Your prescribed accounting period is from Oct to Dec 2014.

 Realised Exchange Gain/Loss

Oct 2014

($150)

Nov 2014

$100

Dec 2014

($200)

The net realised foreign exchange loss for the period is ($250)

The absolute value of net realised foreign exchange loss for the period is $250. In addition, you received $400 interest from fixed deposit in Dec 2014

Total value of exempt supplies (Box 3) = $250 + $400 = $650

Fees from Arranging or Advising on Financial Transactions

The advising on, arranging, broking, or underwriting of financial activities is not exempt from GST. Such fees are subject to GST when the services are provided to local customers. These fees may be zero-rated when they are provided to overseas customers.

For example, if you are an insurance broker and you receive a commission from an insurance company for arranging a life policy for a local policyholder, you must charge GST at 7% for this service that you provide to the insurance company. You must do so even though the premium of the life policy is exempt from GST.

Sale and Lease of Residential Properties

The sale and lease of residential properties are exempt from GST. Residential properties refer to:

  1. A vacant land that is zoned "Residential" or "Rural Centre and Settlement" in the Master Plan which will be used for residential development; or
  2. Residential dwellings (e.g. flats, semi-detached houses) and properties which provide medium to long term accommodation as alternatives to residential dwellings (e.g. serviced apartments).

Sale of Furnished Residential Properties

You need to charge GST on the supply of movable furniture and fittings.

Fixtures, however, such as built-in cabinets and wardrobes, kitchen and sanitary wares, wall-mounted air conditioners that are attached permanently to the residential property are exempt from GST together with the property.

Please refer to FAQs for information on how to account for GST on the sale and lease of furniture and fittings.

Fees from Services Relating to Sale/Lease of Residential Properties Transactions

Exemption from GST is not extended to arranging, broking or advisory services relating to the sale/ lease of residential properties. Such fees are subject to GST.

For example, you may be a real estate/property agent and provide services either in your individual capacity (as a GST registered person) or as an employee of a GST-registered real estate agency. In both instances, the services provided are taxable supplies. This is regardless of whether the properties are residential or commercial in nature.

Investment Precious Metals (IPM)

Investment precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum are essentially financial assets that are actively traded, similar to financial instruments such as stocks and bonds that are currently exempt from GST. Effective 1 Oct 2012, the import and supply of investment precious metals (IPM) is exempt from GST to facilitate the development of a new gold refining and trading cluster in Singapore.

At the same time, the new Approved Refiner and Consolidator Scheme (ARCS) was introduced. The aim of the Scheme is to ease cash flow and the compliance of qualifying refiners and consolidators in their GST payment on the import and purchase of materials used in refining the precious metals into investment form. For more information, you may refer to GST: Approved Refiner and Consolidator Scheme (ARCS) (300KB).

Definition of Investment Precious Metals (IPM)

Precious metals in the form of a bar, ingot, wafer or coin that meet certain criteria will qualify as IPM.

To qualify for GST exemption, the precious metal must meet all of the following criteria:

  1. It is gold of at least 99.5% purity, silver of at least 99.9% purity or platinum of at least 99% purity; and
  2. It is capable of being traded on the international bullion market. A precious metal bar, ingot or wafer refined by a refiner with the following accreditation/ endorsement is regarded as meeting this criterion:
    1. Gold and Silver: A refiner in the current or former 'Good Delivery' list of the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) (The LBMA website provides a 'Good Delivery' list of gold and silver refiners)
    2. Platinum: A refiner in the current or former 'Good Delivery' list of the London Platinum & Palladium Market (LPPM) (The LPPM website provides a 'Good Delivery' list of platinum refiners)
    3. A refiner who intends to be in the 'Good Delivery' List of the LBMA (for gold and silver) or LPPM (for platinum) and is endorsed by the International Enterprise (IE) Singapore. Refiners with this endorsement are published below.
  3. It bears a mark or characteristic that is internationally accepted as guaranteeing its quality.
    An example of such a mark is the hallmark of a refiner in the 'Good Delivery' list of the LBMA/ LPPM stamped on the bar, ingot or wafer.
  4. It is not a decorative bar, ingot or wafer or a collector's bar, ingot or wafer.  

    A precious metal bar, ingot or wafer that fails any of the above criteria cannot qualify as an IPM (hereinafter referred to as 'non-IPM'). The import and supply of such non-IPM continues to be taxable. Examples of non-IPM:
    • Jewellery
    • Precious metals refined by refiners that are not on the 'Good Delivery' list of LBMA/ LPPM nor endorsed by IE Singapore
    • Scrap precious metals for refining
    • Bars with a hanger or hole (for wearing as a pendant)
    • Odd-shaped bars (e.g. boat shape, animal shape, heart-shaped)
Entity IDName of Endorsed RefinerEffective Date of EndorsementPeriod of EndorsementEnd Date of EndorsementRemarks

200101382E

Metalor Technologies Singapore Pte Ltd

07/05/2013

5 years

06/05/2018

 

IPM coin is exempt based on criteria similar to those for IPM bar, ingot and wafer. It must be:

  • Gold of at least 99.5% purity, silver of at least 99.9% purity or platinum of at least 99% purity; and
  • Is or was legal tender in its country of origin.

To provide certainty, coins that can qualify as IPM are prescribed. For the full list of coins which qualify as IPM, please refer to GST: Guide on Exemption of Investment Precious Metals (IPM) (442KB).

Coins that are not in the prescribed list cannot qualify as IPM. The import and supply of such non-IPM coins will continue to be taxable. Examples of non-IPM coins are proof and numismatic coins that are usually traded at prices largely determined by their rarity, finishing and beauty.

GST Treatment of a Supply of IPM

  • Local : A local sale of IPM (i.e. a supply of IPM where the IPM is delivered in Singapore) made on or after 1 Oct 2012 is an exempt supply.
  • Export : A supply of IPM which is exported from Singapore continues to be zero-rated. You are required to retain the relevant documentation showing that the IPM has been exported. Please refer to GST: Guide on Exports (720KB) for the list of documents to maintain.
  • Out-of-Scope : A supply of IPM that is located outside Singapore continues to be an out-of-scope supply and is not subject to GST.

Invoicing Requirements for an Exempt Supply of IPM

To make it clear to customers and to differentiate exempt supplies of IPM from taxable supplies of non-IPM, you must issue a different invoice for an exempt supply of IPM.

The invoice must include:

  • An identifying number
  • Date of issue of the invoice
  • Name, address and registration number of the supplier
  • Name and address of the customer
  • A description of the IPM supplied (see below)
  • Quantity of IPM supplied
  • Total amount payable

IPM bar, ingot or wafer

  1. Type of precious metal (gold, silver or platinum)
  2. Weight
  3. Purity
  4. Name of refiner (e.g. Metalor Technologies SA)
  5. Unique serial number (where applicable)
  6. Unit price

IPM Coin

  • Type of precious metal (gold, silver or platinum)
  • Name of coin (e.g. Canada Maple Leaf Coin)
  • Weight
  • Unit price

The invoice should be issued within 30 days of the supply of IPM. You are required to maintain the invoice to support the exempt supply made.

Claiming GST Incurred In the Making of Exempt Supplies

When you make both taxable and exempt supplies, you are required to apply the De Minimis Rule to determine the amount of input tax you can claim:

  • If you satisfy the De Minimis Rule, you may treat all your input tax as if they are incurred for the making of taxable supplies and claim the input tax in full.
  • If the De Minimis rule is not satisfied, you can only recover the input tax that is attributable to your taxable supplies.

Find out more on how to apply the De Minimis Rule.

Reporting Exempt Supplies

Exempt supplies have to be reported in Box 3 (Total Value of Exempt Supplies) of your GST return. To find out more about how to report the value of exempt supplies, refer to How Do I Prepare My GST Return (1.31MB).

  • What is the difference between standard-rated supplies, zero-rated supplies and exempt supplies?

    Like standard-rated supplies, supplies that are zero-rated are part of taxable supplies. The only difference is that GST of 0% is applicable to zero-rated supplies, while GST of 7% is applicable to standard-rated supplies. Like standard-rated supplies, input tax incurred in the making of zero-rated supplies is claimable.

    GST is not chargeable on exempt supplies. Input tax incurred in the making of exempt supplies is not claimable. This is unlike input tax incurred for making zero-rated and standard-rated supplies which is claimable.

  • I am unable to track which gains or losses arising from foreign currency or derivative transactions are realised or unrealised. Can I report the total realised and unrealised gains or losses as my exempt supplies?

    If it is administratively cumbersome for you to separately track, we are prepared to allow you to report total value of realised and unrealised gains or losses. This is subject to the following conditions:

    1. Your accounting practices conform to proper accounting and reporting standards.
    2. You adopt the same basis of reporting value of exempt supplies from foreign currency and derivative transactions consistently.

    However, you should also be aware that reporting unrealised gain or losses may affect your input tax claims when applying the De Minimis Rule. Thus, you are advised to weigh the reduction in tracking efforts against the impact on input tax claims.

  • Can I apply for GST registration if I only provide financial services to overseas customers?

    Yes. If you provide financial services to overseas persons, the financial services will qualify for zero-rating as international services. You may apply for GST registration voluntarily. The approval of the application is at the discretion of the Comptroller.
  • Is the interest income received from overseas companies an exempt supply?

    Generally, interest income received is an exempt supply under Part I of the Fourth Schedule to the GST Act.

    However, financial services that can qualify as international services under section 21(3) of the GST Act are zero-rated supplies instead of exempt supplies e.g. interest income from overseas bank.

  • I supplied goods to my overseas customer and was paid in US dollars. I then exchanged the US dollars for Singapore dollars with a local money changer and made a gain from the exchange of currency. Do I report this gain as an exempt supply or a zero-rated supply?

    As the exchange of currency is made with a local money changer, gains or losses arising from the exchange should be reported as exempt supplies instead of zero-rated supplies. This is so even though the transaction relates to a sale made to an overseas customer.
  • I am in the business of selling goods. I deposit money in the bank to earn interest. Since I am not a financial institution, do I need to report the interest received?

    Although you are not a financial institution, your deposit of money in a bank is a provision of financial service. Hence, you are required to report the interest received as your exempt supply.
  • My company provided a loan of $100,000 and charged 2% interest to an overseas company. There is no local person directly benefitting from this loan. Do I report the $2,000 interest received as my exempt supply or zero-rated supply?

    Your provision of loan is a provision of financial service. However, since it qualifies as an international service, you may report the interest received as your zero-rated supply instead.

    However, if your company had provided the loan to a local company, you should report the interest received as your exempt supply.

  • If I have a shophouse, how do I account for GST on its rental?

    If the shophouse is approved for both residential and commercial uses, you need to apportion the rental accordingly. The rental attributable to the residential portion is an exempt supply. No GST needs to be charged. The rental attributable to the non-residential portion will be subject to 7% GST.
  • Do I have to account for GST on the lease of a furnished residential property?

    The rental of the bare residential unit is exempt from GST. However, you need to charge GST on the rental of the furniture and fittings.

    To compute the rental value of the bare residential unit, the annual value (as shown in the Valuation List and Valuation Notice) of the property should be used. The monthly rental value of the bare unit shall be taken as 1/12 of the annual value of the property.

    The monthly rental value of the furniture and fittings will be the difference between the monthly gross rent (i.e. the total rental which you charged your tenant) and 1/12 of the annual value of the property. If the actual gross rental is lower than 1/12 of the annual value of the property, you do not need to charge GST on the rental of furniture and fittings.

    A numeric example:

    Total rental of the furnished flat = $4,500 per month

    Annual value in the Valuation List = $36,000

    Value of exempt supply (per month) = 1/12 x $36,000 = $3,000 per month

    Value of supply of furniture and fittings (per month) = $4,500 - $3,000 = $1,500 per month

    You will have to charge GST on $1,500. This is the rental value of your furniture and fittings for the purpose of GST charging. This is regardless of whether a different amount for rental of furniture and fittings was stated in your tenancy contract.

    Alternatively, if you wish to treat the rental as inclusive of GST, you can account for the GST based on the tax fraction of 7/107 of $1,500.

  • Do I have to account for GST on the sale of a furnished residential property?

    The sale of the bare residential property is not subject to GST as it is an exempt supply. However, you need to charge GST on the supply of any movable furniture and fittings.

    Therefore, you need to apportion the selling price of your furnished residential property into:

    1. Value of furniture and fittings based on its open market value or cost (subject to GST)
    2. Value of the bare property (not subject to GST)

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