Chairman's Statement

Singapore’s economy expanded by 2% in 2016 and unemployment rate remained low at 2.1%. These enabled tax collections to support the Government’s economic and social programmes to build an innovative and connected economy, sustain a quality living environment, and promote a caring and inclusive society.

Fostering a Competitive Tax Environment

Singapore has a robust network of Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) to facilitate cross-border investment and trade. During the year, IRAS updated the terms of existing DTAs with India and South Africa. As at the end of FY 2016, 82 out of Singapore’s 84 comprehensive DTAs are in force. This provided businesses engaging in cross-border trade with more avenues for dispute resolution and eliminates double taxation relating to cross-border transactions between Singapore and the respective jurisdictions. Singapore would continue to update her DTAs in line with agreed international standards, including through the use of multilateral agreements.

As at March 2017, IRAS has signed 21 bilateral Competent Authority Agreements (CAAs) that allows for the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS). During the year in review, IRAS continued to work towards signing of various multilateral agreements, in order to underline and re-affirm Singapore’s commitment to the international standards on tax cooperation.

Supporting Inclusive Growth

IRAS continues to partner the community in supporting the government’s efforts to promote inclusive growth through the administration of assistance schemes for businesses. To streamline and expedite processing, the e-Filing of the PIC cash payout applications was made mandatory with effect from 1 August 2016.

In March 2017, IRAS disbursed S$660 million to 85,000 employers under the fourth tranche of the Wage Credit Scheme (WCS) payouts, helping businesses cope with rising wage costs and improving their productivity. The scheme which was introduced in 2013, has been extended for another two years. The last payout will be made in 2018.

Deepening International Engagement

IRAS continues to engage the international tax community to keep abreast of global tax issues and to raise Singapore’s profile in the global tax arena. In 2016, Singapore assumed the Chair of the Global Forum’s Peer Review Group and in so doing, ensured a robust monitoring and peer review mechanism in the implementation of internationally agreed standard for exchange of information.

Singapore was also appointed Chair of the Study Group of Asian Tax Administration and Research (SGATAR) Taskforce. As Chair, we guided the work of the taskforce closely, particularly in capability development. Besides developing a structured framework for capability building in transfer pricing, a joint SGATAR-OECD transfer pricing training was conducted this year at both the intermediate and advanced levels.

Acknowledgements

On behalf of the Board and staff of IRAS, I wish to thank former Board members - Dr Lee Kwok Cheong, Mr Pek Hak Bin and Mr Pok Soy Yoong - for their many contributions to IRAS. They retired from the Board in September 2016. I also welcome Mr Adam Abdur Rahman, Mr Ng Wai Choong, Professor Sum Yee Loong and Mr Tan Boon Gin, who joined the Board in the same month. IRAS has taken bold steps in the past year to step up to challenges and transform itself. On behalf of the Board, I express my appreciation to the management and staff of IRAS for their commitment and contributions. I wish them all the best in the transformation journey ahead.

Mrs Tan Ching Yee
Chairman