The IRAS Story - 60 Years of Tax Administration in Singapore

Cover of The IRAS Story

 “The IRAS Story - 60 years of tax administration in Singapore” is a commemorative book that details the transformation of tax policy and tax administration over the years since 1948. This includes essential service initiatives and IT developments implemented in line with evolving economic and social landscapes, as well as IRAS’ role in assessing and collecting taxes.

Comprising 6 chapters and running over 150 pages, the book includes photographs and details capturing the journey taken by the then Singapore Income Tax Department, to the Inland Revenue Department and then to IRAS, a key national institution which the World Bank has cited as a model of tax administration.

The book tells:

  • How it all began – from 19th century “rates” (today’s property tax) to the introduction of income tax in Singapore in 1947, administered by the Singapore Income Tax Department set up in 1948.

  • Taking over – after independence in 1965, when rapid industrialisation presented the new Inland Revenue Department and its first Singapore Commissioner (Mr Hsu Tse-Kwang) with the twin challenges of administering new tax policies to stimulate growth and creating its own identity.

  • Moving in the right direction – the need to revamp and re-position the economy in the 1980s gave rise to changes in incentives and taxes pertaining to industrialisation and promotion of financial services.

  • A time of change – a shake-up of the tax administration in the 1990s as it prepares to become a statutory board, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, even as it gears up to respond to a fundamental shift in tax policy towards lower direct taxation and the introduction of indirect taxation through the Goods and Services Tax.

  • A new vision for the 21st century – in an increasingly globalised economy, the tax environment grows more competitive by the day, and Singapore has to be even more nimble to find its competitive edge. IRAS juggles its nation-building function with improved taxpayer service and its wider role of actively assisting to position Singapore as a tax-competitive location for businesses and individuals.

  • The IRAS family – IRAS’ greatest resource and challenge. Employees take pride in their work and being part of a people-oriented and family-friendly organisation.

Interviews with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Minister for Finance, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, former Finance Minister, Dr Richard Hu, as well as current and retired IRAS staff are featured in the book. This provides valuable insights into the significant milestones in the last 60 years of tax administration in Singapore.

The book was launched by the Minister for Finance, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam on 29 Aug 2008.

Launch of The IRAS Story

Limited copies of the book are available for sale at $42.80 (inclusive of GST) at all major bookstores.