1. Know Your Tax Obligations
All self-employed persons must report the income earned from their business operations as business income, and not as salary. The business income is part of the total personal income which is taxed at individual income tax rates.
You are a self-employed person when you earn a living by carrying on a trade, business, profession or vocation. Generally, sole-proprietors and partners registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) are self-employed.
To check whether you are a self-employed person, please refer to Am I a Self-Employed Person.
2. Decide on the Accounting Period
Every year, you declare your business income for a specific accounting period. The accounting period is usually a 12-month period of trade for which you calculate your profits or losses.
You should decide on your accounting period when you first start your business. Most businesses choose accounting period that ends on 31 Dec each year. You may choose an accounting period that ends on any date.
Example 1: Accounting Period that ends on 31 Dec
Your business starts on 1 Apr 2018 and you choose to end your accounting period on 31 Dec. The relevant accounting periods and the respective YAs are:
|1st Accounting Period||01 Apr 2018 to 31 Dec 2018||YA 2019|
|2nd Accounting Period||01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019||YA 2020|
|3rd Accounting Period||01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020||YA 2021|
|4th Accounting Period||01 Jan 2021 to 31 Dec 2021||YA 2022|
Example 2: Accounting Period other than 31 Dec
Your business starts on 1 April 2017 and you choose to end your accounting period on 31 Mar. The relevant accounting periods and the respective YAs are:
|1st Accounting Period||01 Apr 2017 to 31 Mar 2018||YA 2019|
|2nd Accounting Period||01 Apr 2018 to 31 Mar 2019||YA 2020|
|3rd Accounting Period||01 Apr 2019 to 31 Mar 2020||YA 2021|
|4th Accounting Period||01 Apr 2020 to 31 Mar 2021||YA 2022|
3. Keep Proper Records and Accounts
You are required to keep full and accurate records and accounts of your business transactions from the start. These records and accounts must be supported with invoices, receipts, vouchers, and other documents.
IRAS will not accept estimate and improper records. For details, please refer to Keeping Proper Records and Accounts.
4. Prepare Statement of Accounts
At the end of every accounting period, you must prepare the statement of accounts comprising:
- Profit and Loss Accounts
- Balance Sheet
For details, please refer to Preparing Statement of Accounts.
5. Prepare a 2-line/4-line Statement
From your statement of accounts, you have to extract the relevant figures and prepare a 2-line/4-line statement for filing your Income Tax Return.
The figures that you need when your revenue is $200,000 or less from YA 2021 are:
|Second line||Adjusted Profit/Loss|
The figures that you need when your revenue is more than $200,000 from YA 2021 are:
|Second line||Gross Profit/Loss|
|Third line||Allowable Business Expenses|
|Fourth line||Adjusted Profit/Loss|
For details, please refer to Calculating Business Income.
6. File Income Tax
At the beginning of the year and usually by 15 Mar, IRAS will send you a notification or an individual income tax return (Form B or B1) to report your income from business or as well as your income from all other sources.
If you do not receive the notification/income tax return from IRAS, please check your filing requirements (XLS, 55KB).
For details, please refer to How to File your Tax Return.
7. Pay Withholding Tax
Withholding tax applies to partnerships. For details, please refer to Section 45 withholding tax apply to partnerships.
If I am doing freelance work from home, am I considered a self-employed person?
Yes. You are considered a self-employed person if you get paid for doing freelance work from home, and the money that you receive is considered your income from a trade.
Should I inform IRAS that I have registered a sole-proprietorship or become self-employed?
You do not have to inform IRAS immediately after you registered or started your business. Usually before 15 Mar, IRAS will send a notice to file your income which could be a:
- Letter of invitation to file
- Income tax return (Form B or B1)
- SMS message informing you to file
If you do not receive any letter, income tax return or SMS by 15 Mar, you can check your filing requirements (55KB) or contact our Taxpayer Services Officer on 1800-356-8300 for assistance.
When will my income be taxed?
Your income will be taxed in the year following the year the income is earned. For example, income earned in 2017 will be taxed in 2018.
2017 is known as the basis year and 2018 is known as the Year of Assessment.