Chairman's Statement

Singapore’s economy expanded by 3.6% in 2017, higher than the 2.4% growth in 2016. The better than expected economic performance, coupled with a low unemployment rate of 2.2%, contributed to higher tax collections this year. This supported funding of key Government programmes to build an innovative and connected economy, a quality living environment and a caring and inclusive society.


IRAS celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017. A trusted, efficient and effective tax administration is a key pillar of fiscal resilience. IRAS has worked hard to make taxpaying easy, provide great service to taxpayers, engender high levels of voluntary compliance, while achieving these at low collection costs. One example is how IRAS has made tax filing a non-event for most citizens – from e-Filing in IRAS’ early years, to a tax portal that consolidates a whole suite of e-services, to the No-Filing Service. Generations of IRAS staff have worked hard to build a strong foundation of tax administration in Singapore, and the current generation will continue to build upon this legacy so that IRAS remains a leading revenue authority in the world.


Singapore is fully committed to the international standards on tax cooperation. On 21 June 2017, we signed the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) on the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), and the MCAA on the Exchange of Country-by-Country Reports (CbCR). As of March 2018, Singapore has established a total of 62 Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) relationships for CRS purposes, and 53 AEOI relationships for CbCR purposes.

Singapore continued to update and expand its network of Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) to facilitate cross-border investment and trade, in line with agreed international standards. During the year, IRAS signed new DTAs with Nigeria and Tunisia. As at the end of FY2017/18, 84 out of Singapore’s 87 comprehensive DTAs are in force.


Beyond collecting taxes, IRAS handles the administrative disbursement of grants in support of inclusive growth in Singapore.

Over 90,000 employers received more than S$800 million in payouts by March 2018 under the Wage Credit Scheme (WCS) administered by IRAS. SMEs received 71% of the payouts disbursed. Started in 2013, the WCS was introduced to help businesses cope with rising wage costs and improve their productivity. The scheme has been extended till 2020 to continue support for businesses embarking on transformation efforts.


On behalf of the Board, I would like to express our gratitude to Mr Tan Tee How, who was the Commissioner of Inland Revenue and IRAS’ CEO from December 2014 to January 2018. Under his stewardship, IRAS made continued progress in fostering an internationally competitive tax environment in Singapore. In early 2016, Mr Tan spearheaded the transformation movement “LEA:D” in IRAS to better harness technology, data and behavioural insights to deliver excellent services, a high level of voluntary compliance and cost efficiencies in tax administration. He also accelerated the building of staff capabilities by deepening their skills and adaptability so as to better respond to the changing work environment.

I would also like to welcome Mr Ng Wai Choong, who has served as a Board member since September 2016, as the new Commissioner and CEO.

IRAS has taken bold steps in the past year to deliver enhanced and innovative services to taxpayers. My heartfelt appreciation goes to the Board and its committees for their guidance and support, and to the management and staff of IRAS for their steadfast commitment and contributions. I wish them all the best as they continue on their transformation journey and digital endeavours.