IRAS has three initiatives to help GST-registered businesses voluntarily comply - Tax Governance Framework (TGF), Assisted Compliance Assurance Programme (ACAP) and Assisted Self-Help Kit (ASK).

New!  Tax Governance Framework (TGF)

The Tax Governance Framework (TGF) is an initiative that is applicable to both Corporate Income Tax and GST. It is an overarching framework that provides the guiding principles and key practices which a company can adopt in its tax governance policy, as part of overall good corporate governance.

Companies that have adopted TGF and obtained IRAS’ endorsement may enjoy a one-time extended grace period for voluntary disclosure of Corporate Income Tax errors, Withholding Tax errors and GST errors. 

Assisted Compliance Assurance Programme (ACAP)

Businesses that have obtained ACAP status enjoy benefits such as three to five years of exemption from GST audits, faster GST refunds, speedier resolution of GST issues and automatic renewal of GST schemes.

Background

Assisted Compliance Assurance Programme (ACAP), launched on 5 Apr 2011, provides a holistic framework for businesses to proactively self-manage their GST risks and treat tax risk management as part of their corporate governance framework.

Assisted Self-help Kit (ASK)

Assisted Self-help Kit (ASK) is a comprehensive self-assessment compliance package to help businesses review correctness of GST submission and discover past GST errors early to qualify for IRAS' Voluntary Disclosure Programme

ASK is available to all GST-registered businesses.

ASK vs. ACAP vs. TGF

The various initiatives are designed to encourage GST compliance, but each has its own target businesses and focus. Their key differences are:

1. Target Businesses

ASK ACAP New!  TGF

All GST-registered businesses, regardless of turnover, may adopt ASK on a voluntary basis.

IRAS may also require businesses to adopt ASK for specified purposes e.g. in applying for GST schemes as specified.

For GST-registered businesses that:

  1. Place importance on tax risk management as part of their corporate governance ; and
  2. Establish robust GST controls at three levels: Entity, Transaction and GST Reporting.

Participation in ACAP is entirely voluntary, depending on your readiness and needs.

TGF is an overarching policy framework for companies sitting above ACAP that:

  1. Places importance on tax accountability and transparency; and
  2. Establishes a tax governance policy centred around the three essential building blocks of good tax governance under the TGF. 

Any company may adopt TGF on a voluntary basis. 

2. Focus

ASKACAPNew! TGF

ASK focuses on 3 key aspects of ensuring GST compliance:

  1. Internal processes to properly handle GST reporting of transactions;
  2. Accurate filing of GST returns by conducting pre-filing check; and
  3. Annual review of past returns filed in each financial year (ASK Annual Review).
ACAP focuses on conducting a holistic review of the effectiveness of the GST Control Framework to manage GST risks and secure on-going GST compliance. The review approach differs from ASK Annual Review.

TGF focuses on strengthening the tax governance standards in the company and elevating these standards to the Board level. 

The company seeking IRAS’ endorsement of its TGF should publish its tax governance policy on its corporate website or an annual report which is publicly accessible.

3. Outcome

ASKACAPNew! TGF
  1. Cultivates discipline to adopt at least the essential requirements in getting ready to be GST compliant.
  2. Provides assurance on the correctness of the current and past GST submissions.

Provides assurance of GST compliance to the stakeholders of the businesses on a sustainable long term basis by incorporating the following elements in its tax risk framework:

  1. Risk Identification;
  2. Corrective Measures;
  3. Preventive Measures; and
  4. Monitoring Mechanism.

Reflects the company’s commitment to good tax governance, which, in the long run, supports a collaborative and trusting relationship between the company and IRAS. 

ASK Annual Review vs. ACAP

1. Aim

ASK Annual ReviewACAP

Detects errors early for GST returns filed in the past financial year.

Ensures effectiveness of GST controls and accuracy of GST reporting for a 12-month period.

2. Review Approach

ASK Annual ReviewACAP
  1. Step-by-step process based on GST ASK Annual Review Guide (PDF, 1022KB).
  2. Focuses on verifying transactions reported in the GST returns regardless of the internal controls.
  1. Risk-based review of GST controls based on Appendix 1 of e-Tax Guide on GST: Assisted Compliance Assurance Programme (ACAP) (PDF, 1,744KB).
  2. Wider scope than ASK Annual Review as it focuses on:
    1. extensive reviews on internal controls that impact GST compliance; and
    2. verifying transactions to ensure accuracy of GST reporting.

3. Personnel Involved in Review

ASK Annual ReviewACAP

Either:

  1. In-house GST personnel or accounting staff;
  2. External tax advisory firms; or
  3. An individual accredited with the Singapore Chartered Tax Professionals Limited (SCTP) as an Accredited Tax Advisor (GST) [ ATA (GST) ] or Accredited Tax Practitioner (GST) [ ATP (GST) ].^

For the purpose of applying for or renewing GST schemes where ASK is specified as a pre-requisite, the 'ASK' Annual Review must either be performed by:

  1. an individual accredited with SCTP as ATA (GST) or ATP(GST); or
  2. the GST-registered business and certified by an individual accredited with SCTP as ATA (GST) or ATP (GST), and in adherence to the certification procedures set out in the GST ASK Annual Review Guide (PDF, 1022KB).

^ The ATA (GST) or ATP (GST) may either be an in-house staff or external party. For more information on accreditation, please visit https://sctp.org.sg/

Either:

  1. Public Accounting Entity (PAE) or its tax affiliate where the team lead is an Accredited Tax Advisor (GST) of SCTP;
  2. Internal audit team where the team member is an Accredited Tax Practitioner (GST) or Accredited Tax Advisor (GST) of SCTP; or
  3. A joint team comprising both (1) and (2).