Enhanced IRAS-Tax Agent Relationship

We, at IRAS, recognise tax agents as our partners in the administration of the Singapore tax system and in facilitating tax compliance. As tax agents work closely with their clients, they also glean valuable insights into the business needs and concerns of their clients. They serve as a valuable channel of feedback for IRAS in the formulation and refinement of tax policies and practices.

Given that IRAS and tax agents share the same objective of ensuring tax compliance by businesses and facilitating business growth, there are opportunities for closer partnership and collaboration particularly in the area of training and improving the competence of tax agents. IRAS has, thus, formulated a framework for enhanced IRAS-Tax Agent relationship. The framework is built on the following principles:

  1. Mutually beneficial
  2. Balanced
  3. Underpinned by openness, transparency and trust

and is supported by four strategies:

  1. Profiling Tax Agents
  2. Facilitating Growth of Tax Agent Competence
  3. Improving Communication and Service
  4. Enhancing Consultation and Collaboration

Details of the expectations on each party and the strategies and action plans under the framework are articulated in this section below:

Enhanced IRAS-Tax Agent Relationship

The success of this relationship depends on all the parties involved. An enhanced relationship between IRAS and tax agents, which is supported by an open channel of communication and a higher level of competence within the tax industry, will definitely bring about greater benefits to all parties involved.


Tax Agent’s Duties and Responsibilities

As tax professionals, tax agents are expected to be competent as well as to act ethically and professionally in providing quality service and advice to their clients. Besides helping clients comply with their tax obligations, tax agents need to abide by certain expectations that the business community and clients have of them and be compliant in their own tax matters as well.

IRAS expects tax agents to be open and transparent in their dealings with IRAS and conduct their practice with utmost integrity. As tax agents are well-acquainted with tax matters, they should provide tax advice within the jurisdictions of tax laws.

We will not hesitate to take action against errant accountants or tax agents who are non-compliant in their own tax matters or provide objectionable tax advice to their clients. There is a heavy penalty for assisting others to defraud the Government or citizens – such non-compliant actions include falsifying of records, resulting in under-declaration of income, etc. 

S/N Date Summary
1 Jun 2019  Tax agent to pay more than $80,000 in fines and penalties for assisting client in avoiding GST registration
2 Apr 2015  CPA sentenced to 6 Weeks' Jail for Tax Evasion 
3 Apr 2012 CPA fined for under-reporting income
4 Feb 2011 First CPA charged for assisting company to evade tax
5 Apr 2009 First practising Certified Public Accountant jailed for tax evasion

Tax agents who require assistance can contact IRAS via one of the following:

To facilitate easier communication between IRAS and the tax agents, please provide the direct number of the tax advisor and/or tax manager handling the tax matters concerned in your correspondences with IRAS. This will help our officers in getting the right contact in the tax agent firm.


Enhanced IRAS-tax agent relationship

A) Purpose of the Enhanced Relationship

IRAS and Tax Agents have common goals. Working together in partnership will enable both parties to achieve these goals in a more effective and efficient manner.

Common goals

  • To have sound and effective tax policies that help taxpayers grow their business and wealth
  • To encourage maximum voluntary compliance

B) Context of the Enhanced Relationship

   IRAS   Tax Agents
Role
Administer, assess, collect and enforce payment of taxes Provide tax-related services to their clients
Facilitate economic growth and development through implementing sound and effective tax policies and rules Act as representative of taxpayers and facilitators of tax compliance
Facilitate tax compliance Act as agent of change for the tax system
Goal Maximise voluntary compliance and collect fair share of taxes To help clients comply with their tax obligations
Enhance wealth and grow business of taxpayers To help clients grow their business and wealth

C) Characteristics of the Enhanced Relationship

Mutually beneficial – both parties stand to gain from the enhanced relationship.

Balanced – both parties are committed towards enhancing the relationship and achieving the common goals of the partnership. Both parties contribute towards the success of the relationship.

Underpinned by openness, transparency and trust – both parties should be open and transparent in their practices and dealings with each other, and trust that neither will attempt to exploit the other’s vulnerabilities when such areas are exposed.

D) Expectations of the Enhanced Relationship

 IRAS Tax Agents 

Recognise that Tax Agents have a commercial relationship with their clients and will always put their clients first

Conduct their practice with integrity

Handle tax matters with fairness and integrity
Be competent and act ethically and professionally in providing quality service and advice to their clients
Be competent and act ethically and professionally when dealing with Tax Agents and taxpayers Provide tax advice within the letter and the spirit of the tax laws
  Be compliant in their own tax matters

E) Both parties should contribute towards achieving the goals under the Enhanced Relationship by:

Goal Actions by IRAS Actions by Agents
Profile Tax Agents
Understand Tax Agent’s practices and needs

In order to build relationship, IRAS needs to first know who the tax agents are.

IRAS will improve its understanding of Tax Agents’ businesses and needs through:

- Setting up a Tax Agent Database, which is a repository of business profile of Tax Agents. With the database, email updates and latest tax information can be disseminated to Tax Agents easily.

- To participate in this initiative by completing this form (PDF, 74KB) and email it to us at taxagent@iras.gov.sg.

Facilitate Growth of Competence
Improve Tax Agent’s capabilities

A highly competent tax professional pool is key to the success of this relationship. Tax Agents need sufficient knowledge of taxes and good access to information.

IRAS will assist Tax Agents in improving their capabilities by conducting seminars and workshops for Tax Agents.

- To recognise the importance of training and set aside time and budget for the constant upgrading of own technical competency

- To keep up-to-date with tax changes and developments

    Communicate and Service
    Enable greater value to be delivered to taxpayers and Tax Agents

    Tax Agents should provide services to clients as good services facilitate taxpayers’ compliance.

    IRAS will aid Tax Agents in delivering greater value to their clients by:

    - Maintaining a Tax Agent webpage for easier access to information and improve depth and breadth of information available to Tax Agents

    - Facilitating use of e-Services

    - Improving service delivery to Tax Agents

    - To be receptive to new e-Services and make use of them

    - To help improve e-Services by taking part in pilot testing of e-Services

    Consult and Collaborate
    Facilitate Tax Agent’s greater contribution to the tax system

    Tax Agents have rich knowledge of taxpayers and tax expertise. They can contribute to the design of more effective and business-friendly tax policies and rules.
    IRAS will actively engage tax agents in the designing of policies, refining of rules and even crafting of legislation via surveys, consultations and focus group sessions.

    - To provide inputs on tax rules and policies through consultation documents, focus groups etc

    - To be proactive in engaging IRAS in resolving technical or compliance issues


    F) Desired outcomes from the Enhanced Relationship

    • Improved Voluntary Compliance by taxpayers
    • Lower Compliance Costs for All
    • Improved Tax Competitiveness for Singapore