History and Milestones

The Singapore Income Tax Department was created in 1947 to administer the Income Tax Ordinance enacted during that year.

Actual assessing of tax only began in November 1948. In the first Year of Assessment, about 40,000 individual tax returns and 1,000 corporate returns were received. The total tax collected for the period 1 January 1948 to 31 December 1949 was $33.2 million.

Following self-government in 1959, the Inland Revenue Department was formed in 1960 when various revenues administered and collected by a number of separate agencies were brought together.

When Singapore attained independence on 9 August 1965, substantial changes were made to the Income Tax Act, which came into effect on 1 January 1966.

By 1970, the number of Acts that came under the Department's purview had increased to twelve. That year also saw the appointment of the first local Commissioner, Mr Hsu Tse-Kwang.

From the 1970s, substantial resources were devoted to staff training. In 1972, microfilming was stepped up to save space and reduce file handling. Property tax billing and collection were also computerised.

IRD's ever-expanding role, together with the rapid increase in the number of taxpayers, resulted in an acute staff shortage. There was a very large backlog of tax not assessed and tax not collected. In addition, IRD staff were highly sought after by the private sector because of their specialised training and skills. IRD needed a new direction to overcome this problem.

Incorporation of IRAS

On 1 September 1992, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) was established by legislation as a statutory board under the Ministry of Finance. With this conversion, IRAS was incorporated by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore Act to take over the functions previously performed by the Inland Revenue Department.

The conversion gave IRAS the autonomy and flexibility to manage its personnel and financial resources. In other words, the conversion marked more than a change in name or a change in organisation. It was a change towards achieving excellence in service to the nation and its people in the area of tax administration.

Our Milestones

From 2010

2016

  • Smartphone filing for individuals to file their income tax returns on-the-go is introduced.
  • An inaugural Hackathon is held to develop tax solutions jointly with the public.

2015

  • e-Filing of Form C for corporate taxpayers is launched.
  • Auto-inclusion of commission income is implemented.
  • IRAS hosts the 45th Study Group of Asian Tax Administration and Research (SGATAR) Meeting.

2014

  • A Simplified Record-Keeping (SRK) initiative is introduced to help small businesses lower their compliance cost.
  • Tan Tee How is appointed as Commissioner of Inland Revenue and Chief Executive Officer of IRAS.

2013

  • IRAS administers the Wage Credit Scheme, which is part of the Transition Support Package announced in Budget 2013.
  • Property Tax rates for owner-occupied homes are made more progressive.
  • IRAS Facebook Page is launched in March 2013.

2012

  • Simplified Form C (Form C-S), a 3-page income tax return for small companies, is introduced.
  • Small companies with turnover not exceeding S$1 million are not required to file their Estimated Chargeable Income (ECI) if it is estimated to be nil.
  • Dr. Tan Kim Siew is appointed as Commissioner of Inland Revenue and Chief Executive Officer of IRAS.

2011

  • The electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS), a common electronic platform that reduces the turnaround time for tourists to claim GST refunds, is launched.
  • The Assisted Compliance Assurance Programme (ACAP) is launched to help businesses enhance their tax risk management and strengthen GST internal controls.

2010

  • New e-Stamping website is launched for anyone to e-Stamp their documents and pay stamp duty online.
  • IRAS and MOF host the Second Meeting of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes in Sep 2010.
  • Follow IRAS on Twitter is launched.
  • Casino Tax is implemented in Feb 2010.
2000 to 2009

2009

  • e-Filing of Partnership Return is introduced.
  • The infocomm@SME – Accounting Software Assistance Scheme for SMEs is introduced.
  • Speedy GIRO application for tax payment is made available at AXS machines.
  • IRAS administers Jobs Credit Scheme that provides cash grants to employers to help them preserve jobs. The scheme is part of the Resilience Package announced in Budget 2009.

2008 

  • The imputation system for corporate income tax ceases.
  • Estate Duty is abolished for deaths on or after 15 February.
  • Cess rate is reduced to 0% with effect from 1 July.
  • IRAS Gallery – The Singapore Tax Story is officially opened.
  • IRAS collects the Formula 1 levy on hotels for Singapore Tourism Board.

2007 

  • Compulsory e-Filing of GST is introduced in phases, starting from January.
  • IRAS launches the “No-Filing Service” where some taxpayers do not have to file their tax returns.
  • myTax Portal is launched.
  • IRAS introduces a service initiative to pay interest on late refunds.
  • GST is raised to 7 per cent.
  • IRIN wins the MIS Asia IT Excellence Award, in the Best Business Enabler (Government) category.

2006 

  • The Tax Academy of Singapore is set up in July.
  • The regulation of charities is transferred to the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.
  • The Tax Competitiveness Forum, comprising senior representatives from IRAS and other economic agencies, is set up to look into the longer-term tax strategies to enhance the competitiveness of the Singapore economy.

2005 

  • Moses Lee is appointed as Commissioner of Inland Revenue and Chief Executive Officer of IRAS.
  • IRAS hosts the 35th SGATAR meeting.

2004 

  • GST is raised further to 5 per cent.
  • The Inland Revenue Interactive Network (IRIN), that offers an integrated view of each taxpayer's interactions with IRAS across tax types, is unveiled.

2003 

  • IRAS attains the Singapore Quality Award.
  • The one-tier corporate income tax system is adopted.
  • GST is raised to 4 per cent.

2002 

  • e-Tax Clearance, the online application for tax clearance, is launched.
  • EASY, an online authorisation system for businesses, is launched.

2001 

  • Auto-inclusion of tax-exempt donations is implemented.
  • IRAS World, our first public gallery, is officially opened.
  • e-Notice of Transfer for property ownership is launched.
  • e-Pay, internet payment of individual income tax, property tax and TV licence fee, is launched.
  • Key IRAS processes attain the ISO 9000 certification.
  • e-Tax Guides, the online circulars published on IRAS website, replace Compass.

2000 

  • IRAS gains the People Developer Standard.
  • e-Filing of Estimated Chargeable Income for companies is launched.

 

1990 to 1999

1999 

  • The Taxpayer Service Pledge is launched.
  • The Taxpayer Feedback Panel is set up.
  • e-Stamping, the electronic stamping of documents, is launched.
  • IRAS attains the Singapore Quality Class.

1998

  • In a link-up with Singapore Broadcasting Authority, IRAS collects TV licence fees together with property tax.
  • e-Filing of individual income tax via the internet is introduced.
  • Auto-inclusion of employment income is implemented.
  • Stamp duty is removed for all instruments, except those which relate to stocks, shares and immovable property, with effect from 28 February.
  • Electronic Valuation List, an online enquiry of the valuation of properties, is launched.
  • e-Filing of GST returns via CPF/IRASLine is introduced.
  • The first taxpayer focus group is held.
  • The first taxpayer survey is conducted.

1997 

  • Auto-inclusion of dividend income is extended to dividends paid through Central Depository and CPF agent banks.
  • Auto-inclusion of NSmen relief is introduced.
  • Koh Cher Siang is appointed as Commissioner of Inland Revenue and Chief Executive Officer of IRAS.

1996 

  • IRAS moves to Revenue House from four different locations, namely Fullerton Building, Albert Complex, Colombo Court and International Plaza.
  • IRAS offers full-day taxpayer service on Saturdays.
  • IRAS signs the First Collective Agreement with the IRASSU.

1995 

  • The Inland Revenue Integrated System (IRIS) is unveiled, pioneering an integrated system of imaging, ICR and workflow management.
  • Auto-inclusion of dividend income is first introduced for Singapore Telecom shares.
  • IRAS homepage is launched.
  • IRAS hosts the 25th SGATAR meeting.

1994 

  • Telephone filing for individual income tax is launched.
  • Student Volunteer Tax-Filing Service is introduced.
  • A simplified “4-line statement” tax form for sole-proprietors and partners is introduced.
  • The inaugural Budget Seminar is held.
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) is introduced from 1 April.
  • IRAS takes over from Customs & Excise Department the collection of CESS for Singapore Tourist Promotion Board.

1993 

  • The annual filing deadline for individual income taxes is now a fixed date, 15 April.
  • The IRAS Staff Union (IRASSU) is formed in June.
  • InTax software for individual taxpayers is introduced.
  • “Compass”, a publication to explain and clarify tax laws, is launched.

1992 

  • Form B1, the simplified tax form for employees, is introduced.
  • Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal system for property tax assessments is implemented.
  • Inland Revenue Information Service, the automated 24-hour telephone answering system, is launched.
  • IRD is converted to a statutory board and renamed Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).
  • Legal Requisition system for lawyers dealing with property transactions is launched.

1991 

  • Koh Yong Guan is appointed as Commissioner of Inland Revenue.

1990 

  • The concessionary property tax rate of 4% for owner-occupied residential property is introduced.

 

Prior to 1990

1989 

  • Information Management System, a new computer system for income tax and property tax, is rolled out.

1987 

  • Corporate income tax rate comes down from 40% to 33%, in the first major reduction.

1986 

  • Inland Revenue Department (IRD) hosts the 16th SGATAR meeting.

1985 

  • Payroll tax is suspended.

1983 

  • IRD administers the Charities Act.

1982 

  • Payment of individual income tax in instalments can be made through the GIRO scheme.

1976 

  • IRD hosts the 6th meeting of the Study Group on Asian Tax Administration and Research (SGATAR).

1972 

  • The first computer, an IBM 360, is brought in to replace the accounting machines.

1970 

  • IRD is headed by its first local Commissioner, Hsu Tse-Kwang.

1967 

  • The Economic Expansion Incentives Act is introduced.

1965 

  • Payroll tax is introduced and administered by IRD.

1961 

  • Property tax comes under the purview of the IRD.
  • The first avoidance of double taxation agreement is signed.

1960 

  • The Singapore Income Tax Department becomes the IRD, with stamp duty, estate duty, private lotteries and betting and sweepstake duties coming under the department’s purview.
  • N.V. Casey becomes the first Commissioner of Inland Revenue.

1959 

  • The Pioneer Industries (Relief from Income Tax) Ordinance is introduced.

1956 

  • G.T. Holloway is the Income Tax Department’s second comptroller.

1948 

  • The Singapore Income Tax Department is formed with D.H. Tudor as Singapore’s first Comptroller of Income Tax.

1947

  •  The Income Tax Ordinance is passed.