11 Oct 2023

-   Over 50 Tax Administrations Around the World Meet for Plenary in Singapore for the First Time 
-   Leveraging InvoiceNow for Tax Administration

For the first time in Singapore, the Forum on Tax Administration (FTA) Plenary will be held from 11 October to 13 October 2023. The FTA, one of the largest meetings of its kind, brings together tax commissioners, officials and professionals from over 50 jurisdictions across the globe. With an overarching theme of “Partnerships”, the 16th FTA Plenary in Singapore will discuss initiatives by tax administrations to build partnerships with stakeholders and the community – including citizens, businesses, digital platforms and solution providers – to improve taxpaying experience and enhance efficiencies of tax administrations. In his keynote speech, Guest of Honor Acting Minister for Transport and Senior Minister of State for Finance, Mr Chee Hong Tat highlighted how InvoiceNow will improve productivity and ease GST compliance for GST-registered businesses.

Fostering Global Excellence in Tax Administration

Established in 2002, the FTA brings together more than 50 tax administrations from across the world. Commissioners use this as a platform to share knowledge, undertake research and develop new ideas to enhance tax administration, ease tax compliance and improve tax certainty for taxpayers. Held annually, the FTA Plenary is the largest gathering of tax administrations that supports the international tax policy agenda, undertakes thought leadership projects, exchanges best practices and co-creates tools and solutions to strengthen tax administration. 

16th FTA Plenary Meeting - Collaboration and Partnership

The conference, themed "Partnerships," features Plenary talks on Singapore's Smart Nation initiative by Chan Cheow Hoe, Government Chief Digital Technology Officer of the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, along with insights from local and international speakers on advancing tax administration through digitalisation. In line with Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, IRAS has partnered stakeholders to develop various digital solutions for a more seamless and convenient taxpaying experience.

Leveraging InvoiceNow for Tax Administration

One example is InvoiceNow. Since 2019, Singapore has adopted the international PEPPOL standard for its e-invoicing network, known as InvoiceNow. InvoiceNow allows direct transmission of e-invoices from one finance system to another without human intervention, speeding up invoice processing which results in faster digital payment. This greatly reduces the time spent by businesses on creating and verifying invoices, as well as pursuing outstanding payments.

Besides domestic transactions, InvoiceNow also supports cross-border transactions with businesses in jurisdictions that are connected to the PEPPOL network. These jurisdictions include Australia, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. In Singapore, over 55,000 businesses and 200 solution providers and access point providers are currently connected to the InvoiceNow network. At the FY2023 Ministry of Finance Committee of Supply Debate, SMS Chee announced that the Government would implement InvoiceNow as the default e-invoice submission channel for all Government vendors within the next few years, to further strengthen its use case and amplify its network effect.

IRAS has teamed up with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and some GST-registered businesses to pilot the use of InvoiceNow data in tax administration. The pilot trial has yielded positive findings. Besides productivity savings from digitalising invoicing, businesses can benefit from easier GST compliance, potentially fewer audits and faster GST refunds. Like Singapore, many jurisdictions are developing national networks that facilitate structured digital invoice transmission, recognising the potential of e-invoicing in combating tax fraud and evasion while helping businesses reap productivity savings. IRAS thus plans to work with IMDA, the Accountant-General's Department and businesses to increase the adoption of InvoiceNow for GST administration.

IRAS will release more information on this initiative in the coming months.

Collaborative Efforts for a Seamless Tax Experience

IRAS is also partnering the Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB), Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and GovTech to help businesses submit data to various agencies easily. The One-Stop Payroll pilot initiative enables businesses to file employers’ employment and wage-related information to multiple agencies through their payroll software: annual submission of salary data to IRAS, monthly submission of CPF contributions to CPFB, and responses to the Occupational Employment Dataset and labour market surveys administered by MOM.

IRAS has also collaborated with self-employed individuals, industry associations, and platform operators on the Fixed Expense Deduction Ratio (FEDR) initiative to simplify tax filing for the self-employed. Qualifying private hire car/taxi drivers, commission agents and soon, delivery workers, can choose to deduct a deemed amount of expense based on a prescribed percentage of their gross income earned, without having to compute their expenses. Alternatively, they can continue claiming their actual deductible expenses. This initiative received positive feedback, with an adoption rate of over 85%.

Singapore's Role in International Tax Discourse

“Singapore has been playing an active role in the FTA and became a member of its Bureau, the steering body of the FTA, in 2019. Partnering with our international counterparts, Singapore contributes constructively to improvements in tax administration globally. This helps taxpayers around the world to enjoy greater seamlessness and convenience both domestically and in cross-border tax matters.” says Mr Ng Wai Choong, Commissioner, IRAS.

“On behalf of the FTA, I thank Commissioner Ng and IRAS for hosting this important meeting of tax administrations, international organisations, business representatives and academics, which provided us the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences and commit to new work that will continue to strengthen international tax administration.” says Bob Hamilton, FTA Chair.

Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore 


Photos from the 16th FTA Plenary (PDF, 1.32MB)