Commissioner’s Message

FY2017/18 was a significant year for IRAS. We collected S$50.2 billion in tax revenue, 6.8% higher than the collection in FY2016/17, while keeping our cost of tax collection low at 0.84 cents for every dollar collected. Through our ongoing efforts to maximise voluntary compliance, we kept tax arrears low at 0.68% of net tax assessed.

1 September 2017 marked IRAS’ 25th year as a statutory board. Over the years, IRAS has sought to continuously re-invent itself. Our LEA:D movement seeks to further transform the experiences of both the taxpaying community and our staff by LEveraging Analytics, Design and Digitalisation. Together, we have worked hard as a team during the year to redefine taxpayer experiences, facilitate compliance and enhance the competitiveness of our tax regime. These entailed digitalising our internal processes and improving productivity.

PROVIDING EXCELLENT SERVICE

IRAS was conferred the GovInsider Innovation Award 2017 in the “Best Use of UI and UX Design” category for our revamped myTax Portal. This was in recognition of our efforts to use design to improve and ensure simplicity of our services. Completed in September 2017, the portal is mobile-responsive and incorporates user-friendly design features, making it more convenient and intuitive for taxpayers.

We also actively harnessed technologies and digital communication channels to make interactions more convenient. The Virtual Assistant “Ask Jamie” was launched on our IRAS website in July 2017. Taxpayers were able to get quick answers on general enquiries relating to individual income tax, property tax and stamp duty. In the coming year, “Ask Jamie” will be able to handle enquiries on corporate tax and GST.

In line with the Smart Nation push for e-payment, we were the first organisation to partner OCBC Bank to leverage Application Programming Interface (“API”) for online application of GIRO. With this service at myTax Portal from November 2017, taxpayers no longer need to submit paper forms. The GIRO facility can be set up instantaneously. We will be collaborating with other banks to extend this service to their customers.

The statistics for the 2018 individual income tax filing season reflect the success and prevalence of online filing in Singapore. More than 97% of taxpayers who were required to file their tax returns did so electronically. About 23% of taxpayers used their mobile devices to access myTax Portal to file or view their tax returns on-the-go.

MAXIMISING VOLUNTARY COMPLIANCE

To help businesses get their tax obligations right from the start,we introduced an interactive on-boarding tool to provide tailored information on corporate tax to new companies in February 2018. We collaborated with the community and partnered the three awardees of the IRAS Co-Creation Grant in the development of digital tax solutions. These solutions, named TinkerTax, TallyGo and Freeboh, aim to simplify the tax affairs of small businesses and individual taxpayers while providing them with greater convenience in fulfilling their tax obligations. These solutions are owned by the community and have been launched for public use.

We continued to take firm actions against non-compliance. We audited and investigated 10,726 taxpayers and recovered approximately S$384 million in taxes and penalties in FY2017/18.

FOSTERING A COMPETITIVE TAX ENVIRONMENT

IRAS proactively reviews tax policies to promote enterprise and ease businesses’ compliance costs, thus ensuring that Singapore’s tax system remains robust and competitive. In FY2017/18, we reviewed 28 tax policies. These include the tax deductibility of Additional Buyer Stamp Duty, interest and penalty payments as well as the timing of such deductions to provide greater tax certainty to property developers. In line with the fast development of the digital economy, we will be introducing Goods and Services Tax (GST) on imported digital services with effect from 1 January 2020, to ensure that all services consumed in Singapore, whether purchased locally or abroad, are subject to the same GST treatment. We are currently in the process of designing the GST measures in consultation with various stakeholders. 850 businesses and associations have so far been consulted.

To enhance Singapore’s standing as a trusted jurisdiction in the international tax community, we continue to uphold international tax principles and contribute in international efforts to establish a consistent set of international tax standards. We have committed to implementing the four minimum standards under the BEPS project. We are a member of the Steering Group of the BEPS Inclusive Framework, and the Chair of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes Peer Review Group.

ENHANCING PRODUCTIVITY AND CAPABILITIES

We made a major push on the adoption of Agile development methodology for the delivery of ICT projects. More than 200 staff have been trained through in-house developed courses as well as coaching sessions conducted by an external coach. We have also established a conducive space for project teams comprising both IT and Business representatives to co-locate and work on Agile projects. Through Agile, project teams would be able to respond quickly to changes, leading to shorter project delivery cycles and greater productivity.

To enhance our efficiency and effectiveness and to strengthen our data analytics competency, we have set up an Analytics Network in May 2017 to grow the analytics community in IRAS. Besides increasing awareness and appreciation for analytics, the Network facilitates the exchange of ideas and best practices amongst staff.

DEVELOPING A SMART DIGITAL WORKPLACE

In line with our digitalisation efforts, we piloted the use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in early 2017 to improve staff productivity. 38 processes have been automated using RPA, covering areas such as compliance checks, business processing, procurement services and customer management services. We are now scaling up the use of RPA at the enterprise-level and building RPA capabilities among both IT and non-IT staff.

To leverage data through digital platforms, we launched the enterprise Case Management System (CMS) in April 2017. CMS improves staff productivity through more effective tracking and management of cases, facilitates greater information sharing within IRAS and allows more data to be captured for risk analysis purposes.

LOOKING AHEAD

I am confident that IRAS will continue to build on the good work of my predecessor, Mr Tan Tee How, and strive towards our vision of becoming the leading revenue authority in the world.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank the Board for its support.

In commemoration of IRAS’ silver jubilee, I would like to pay tribute to all IRAS staff – both past and present - for their dedication and contributions to IRAS throughout the past 25 years.


MR NG WAI CHOONG

Commissioner of Inland Revenue/Chief Executive Officer