The Study of the Tax Ecosystem and Practices in Singapore (STEPS)

In 2016, IRAS commissioned the Study of the Tax Ecosystem and Practices in Singapore (“STEPS”), in light of the rapid developments and increased complexity in the global tax scene. The objective of the STEPS was to conduct a holistic review of the tax ecosystem and recommend strategies to achieve the following goals:

  • Grow Singapore as a leading provider of tax services
  • Develop Singapore into a thought leader, and a valued location for education and research for taxation
  • Position Singapore as an advocate of fair and ethical taxation

The recommended strategies would focus on building a robust and vibrant tax ecosystem that would better serve the current and future needs of Singapore:

  • A forward-looking and agile tax ecosystem that can respond to emerging challenges, especially those in the international arena
  • Taxpayers, especially businesses, are supported by deep tax expertise to manage their tax obligations in Singapore and foreign jurisdictions
  • An environment that can attract, nurture and retain tax talent

An industry-led  STEPS Committee was formed to conduct the study. The STEPS Committee consulted many stakeholders, and proposed recommendations to advance the tax ecosystem in the following areas:

Advance Singapore's standing as a responsible global player and a leading centre for thought leadership in taxation

  • Enhance the development of the independent tax research scene in Singapore and promote robust debate amongst stakeholders
  • Explore Singapore's role in facilitating the resolution of cross-border disputes

Enhance the clarity of the tax environment

  • Improve the certainty and administrative transparency of Singapore’s tax regime

Transform industry and business practices to be future-ready

  • Adopt a targeted and industry-focused approach to drive productivity improvements, through the adoption of technology and movement across the tax service value chain
  • Facilitate tax practitioners in building new capabilities and acquiring new skillsets

Enhance the standing of tax as a distinctive and reputable profession

  • Strengthen the accreditation framework for tax practitioners to support continual upgrading and adherence to high standards of practice
  • Improve the existing structures and bodies to strengthen the standing of the tax profession

MOF/ IRAS supports the recommendations. IRAS has convened a fresh industry-led STEPS Implementation Committee to translate these recommendations into reality and bring them to fruition. The STEPS Implementation Committee will actively consult and engage various parties in the industry to ensure that the implementation of recommendations serves the needs of the wider tax ecosystem and benefits Singapore.

Industry Consultation

IRAS will be consulting key stakeholders through Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and Surveys, over the next few months, to seek their views on the following topics:

  • Developing targeted and industry-focused initiatives to drive productivity improvements of Tax Service Providers through the adoption of technology in the provision of tax services
  • Ways to improve the professional competency and ethical standards of tax practitioners, and increase the standard of tax services provided by tax practitioners in Singapore and
  • Whether IRAS should publish advance rulings and ways to publish advance rulings if IRAS does so, while protecting confidentiality of taxpayers' identities and business arrangements.

Invitation letters will be sent out from mid-March 2018 to selected stakeholders from various sectors of the industry. Relevant surveys will also be made available on IRAS' website in mid-March 2018. If you have not received an invitation but would like to provide us with your views on the above topics, please email us by 26 March 2018 at STEPS_Secretariat@iras.gov.sg to register your interest.