24 Sep 2021

Two property agents, 50-year-old Mu Shen ("Mu"), 44-year-old Loy Thye Wei ("Loy") and two property buyers, both 44-year-old Daniel Halim ("Daniel") and Lee Liu Ying ("Lee") were found guilty and convicted by the Court for their involvement in falsely backdating an Option to Purchase (OTP) of a property to avoid paying the higher Additional Buyer's Stamp Duties (ABSD) at the rate of 15%, instead of 10%, on the property purchase price of $1.38 million. The ABSD evaded amounted to $69,000.

The ABSD rate for Singapore citizens buying third and subsequent residential property has been raised from 10% to 15% with effect from 6 July 2018. Investigations revealed that both buyers, Daniel and Lee, would only proceed with the property transaction if the OTP was backdated to 4 July 2018. Mu subsequently assisted the buyers to avoid paying the higher ABSD rate of 15% by instigating Loy, the property agent for the sellers, to backdate the OTP to 4 July 2018. Despite knowing that the buyers did not qualify for the lower ABSD rate of 10%, both Mu and Loy proceeded to backdate the OTP to take advantage of the lower ABSD rate even though the property transaction was only concluded on 8 July 2018.

Court Sentences

Mu pleaded guilty to one charge of abetment by instigating Loy to falsely backdate the OTP of the property with intent to avoid payment of higher ABSD. Mu was sentenced by the Court to 8 weeks of imprisonment.

Loy pleaded guilty to one charge for her involvement in the preparation of OTP where she falsely backdated it with intent to avoid payment of higher ABSD. Loy was sentenced by the Court to 8 weeks of imprisonment.    

Daniel and Lee each pleaded guilty to stamp duty evasion by exercising a falsely backdated OTP. They were each sentenced by the Court to 6 weeks of imprisonment. In addition to the Court sentencing, a penalty of $276,000 which is four times the ABSD of $69,000 was imposed under Section 46(1)(c) of the Stamp Duties Act (Cap. 312) (“SDA”) on Daniel and Lee for under stamping the acceptance to the OTP.   

Serious Consequences for Providing False Information to Evade Payment of Stamp Duty

This is the first case of property buyers and property agents to be charged and convicted under Section 62(a) and 62(b) of the SDA for executing the OTP for a property which all the facts and circumstances are not fully set forth. 

IRAS takes a very serious view of any individual who evades stamp duty by executing instruments containing false information. One may also be guilty of a criminal offence for assisting or being involved in the preparation of any such instrument containing false information that is used to evade stamp duty. Any person found guilty of such an offence under the law shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years, or with both.   

In addition, offenders may be liable to a penalty of up to four times the deficient duty prescribed under Section 46(1)(c) of the SDA if any dutiable instrument is found to be unstamped or under-stamped.   

Reporting of Stamp Duty Evasion

If you know of any wrongdoing associated with evading payment of stamp duty, please contact IRAS at the following: 

Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore
Investigation & Forensics Division
55 Newton Road, Revenue House
Singapore 307987   

Email: [email protected]

Cash Rewards for Informant

A reward based on 15% of the tax recovered, capped at $100,000, would be given to informants if the information and/or documents provided lead to a recovery of tax that would have otherwise been lost. All payments are at the discretion of IRAS. IRAS will ensure that the identities of informants are kept strictly confidential.

Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore