Commissioner’s Message

IRAS collected S$47 billion in tax revenue in FY2016/17, 5% higher than the collection in FY2015/16. Our cost of tax collection remained low at 0.84 cents for every dollar collected. We kept tax arrears low at 0.68% of net tax assessed as a result of our continued focus on maximising voluntary compliance.

In response to our rapidly changing operating environment, IRAS has embarked on a movement named LEA:D to transform the tax experiences of the taxpaying community and the work experiences of IRAS’ staff by LEveraging, Analytics, Design and Digitalisation. I am happy that we have made good progress piloting new initiatives aimed towards better service for our taxpayers and higher productivity for our staff.

Providing Excellent Service

IRAS intensified its efforts to understand taxpayers’ needs and co-create solutions with the community in the bid towards redefining taxpaying experiences. We completed service design projects for individuals and residential property owners. We held the inaugural IRAS Hackathon with over 70 participants from diverse backgrounds coming together to create taxpayer-centred experiences for SMEs, the self-employed and individual taxpayers. With some good ideas surfaced from the Hackathon and service design projects, taxpayers can look forward to a whole new experience in fulfilling their tax obligations.

With our continuous efforts in simplifying tax filing, YA2017 tax season was a breeze for 1.49 million individual taxpayers who were on the No- Filing Service (NFS) and the other taxpayers who needed to file their returns. We maintained a high 96% on-time filing rate for individual taxpayers. E-filing rate among taxpayers remained high at 97%, with an increasing proportion accessing myTax Portal using their mobile devices. With a newly piloted initiative this year, about 70,000 taxpayers received their tax bills immediately upon filing their tax returns electronically, giving them greater certainty on their tax payments. We also launched the Tax Agent e-Services which provided a suite of e-solutions to help improve tax agents’ productivity and enrich the quality of service that they deliver to their clients.

For employers under the Auto-Inclusion Scheme, we implemented the Application Programming Interface (API) service where 60 employers made use of their payroll software to submit their employees’ salary details directly to IRAS effortlessly, at the click of a button. We subsequently launched IRAS’ first public API Marketplace in March 2017. The marketplace serves as a platform for IRAS to co-create and develop digital services with the community.

Engaging the Taxpaying Community

We kept up efforts to drive voluntary compliance. We helped taxpayers ‘get it right’ through continuous education and community engagement programmes, covering topics ranging from e-Filing to tax avoidance. We received positive responses from taxpayers who viewed personalised videos explaining their property tax, prior to receiving their valuation notices. This was a pilot project, where links to videos were sent via SMS to about 10,000 residential property owners.

Maximising Voluntary Compliance

To enhance our compliance capabilities, we implemented a Social Network Analysis system which enables our officers to make a more holistic risk assessment of GST-registered businesses considering risks at the entity, network and transaction levels.

We continued to take firm actions against non-compliance. We audited and investigated 10,626 taxpayers and recovered approximately S$332 million in taxes and penalties in FY2016/17.

Facilitating Economic Growth

IRAS continues to review tax policies to ease businesses’ compliance costs and promote enterprise. In FY2016/17, we reviewed 50 tax policies, covering a wide range of areas including transfer pricing, withholding tax and tax issues relating to the digital economy.

Enhancing Tax Cooperation

We implemented the Country-by-Country Reporting for Singapore Multinational Enterprises as part of the G20-OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project. We continued to participate actively in various international tax forums to monitor ongoing technical developments and their impact on Singapore. These include the OECD, Working Parties and the UN Tax Committee forums.

Developing a Nimble IRAS

One of our LEA:D objectives is to help our people strengthen their capabilities, deepen their skills and develop their adaptability to better respond to changing work requirements and challenges ahead. Besides rotating staff to different areas of work and attaching them to different organisations to widen their work experience, we are building new capabilities such as analytics and robotic process automation to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness in our processes, and training staff across all levels on tools and methodologies relating to design thinking, digitalisation and analytics.

Looking Ahead

I am encouraged by the early successes and the projects we have completed as part of our LEA:D journey. We will continue to sustain the momentum and together, move closer towards achieving our vision of becoming the leading revenue authority in the world.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank the Board for its support and all IRAS staff for their dedication and contributions to IRAS.

Mr Tan Tee How
Commissioner of Inland Revenue / Chief Executive Officer