Supplies that are exempt from GST include:

  • The provision of financial services;
  • The supply of digital payment tokens (with effect from 1 Jan 2020);
  • The sale and lease of residential properties; and
  • The import and local supply of investment precious metals (IPM).

GST need not be charged on 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.

Digital Payment Tokens

A digital payment token refers to any cryptographically-secured digital representation of value that meets certain criteria. Please refer to GST: Digital Payment Tokens (293KB) for the criteria.

With the increasing acceptance of digital payment tokens as a means of payment, there is a need to update the GST treatment of such tokens. Therefore, from 1 Jan 2020, the following supplies of digital payment tokens are exempt from GST:

  • Exchange of digital payment tokens for fiat currency or other digital payment tokens
  • Provision of loans of digital payment tokens

The supply of digital payment tokens before 1 Jan 2020 will continue to be treated as a taxable supply of services.

Digital Payment Token Intermediaries and Mining

Exemption from GST does not extend to services provided by intermediaries (e.g. an exchange, wallet, broker). These services remain taxable even if these are in relation to digital payment token transactions.

The mining of digital payment tokens does not constitute a supply for GST purposes. However, if a miner provides services to an identifiable party, in return for a consideration, (e.g. a commission or transaction fee), this constitutes a taxable supply of services. The miner, if GST-registered, has to charge and account for GST, unless zero-rating applies.

Use of Digital Payment Token as Payment

The use/ provision of digital payment tokens as payment for anything (other than for fiat currency or other digital payment tokens) is disregarded as a supply for GST purposes. Therefore, when digital payment tokens are used to purchase goods and services, GST is chargeable only on the supply of goods and services (where the supply is taxable).

Sale and Lease of Residential Properties

The sale and lease of residential properties are exempt from GST.  Residential properties refer to vacant residential land and residential building, flat or tenement (‘building’).

Land
Residential land refers to:

  1. Vacant land that is zoned "Residential" in the Master Plan in which the use of the land is approved for residential or condominium development; or
  2. Vacant land or land with building (to be demolished) on it which is supplied by the Government or the public authority and approved exclusively for residential or condominium development.

Building
A building is a residential building (e.g. bungalow, flats) if it is approved for use or approved to be used for residential purposes.

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)

The import and supply of IPM such as gold, silver and platinum are exempt from GST to facilitate the development of the gold refining and trading cluster in Singapore.

The Approved Refiner and Consolidator Scheme (ARCS) was introduced to complement the exemption of IPM. The Scheme aims to ease the cash flow and 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) (881KB).

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) (698KB).

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) 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 (938KB) 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 (790KB).

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