The Singapore Income Tax Department was created in 1947 to administer the Income Tax Ordinance enacted during that year.
Actual assessing of tax only began in November 1948. In the first Year of Assessment, about 40,000 individual tax returns and 1,000 corporate returns were received. The total tax collected for the period 1 January 1948 to 31 December 1949 was $33.2 million.
Following self-government in 1959, the Inland Revenue Department was formed in 1960 when various revenues administered and collected by a number of separate agencies were brought together.
When Singapore attained independence on 9 August 1965, substantial changes were made to the Income Tax Act, which came into effect on 1 January 1966.
By 1970, the number of Acts that came under the Department's purview had increased to twelve. That year also saw the appointment of the first local Commissioner, Mr Hsu Tse-Kwang.
From the 1970s, substantial resources were devoted to staff training. In 1972, microfilming was stepped up to save space and reduce file handling. Property tax billing and collection were also computerised.
IRD's ever-expanding role, together with the rapid increase in the number of taxpayers, resulted in an acute staff shortage. There was a very large backlog of tax not assessed and tax not collected. In addition, IRD staff were highly sought after by the private sector because of their specialised training and skills. IRD needed a new direction to overcome this problem.
Incorporation of IRAS
On 1 September 1992, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) was established by legislation as a statutory board under the Ministry of Finance. With this conversion, IRAS was incorporated by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore Act to take over the functions previously performed by the Inland Revenue Department.
The conversion gave IRAS the autonomy and flexibility to manage its personnel and financial resources. In other words, the conversion marked more than a change in name or a change in organisation. It was a change towards achieving excellence in service to the nation and its people in the area of tax administration.
IRAS celebrates its 30th anniversary as a statutory board. As part of the celebrations, IRAS launched its Social Site & Digital Gallery, a one-stop portal for taxpayer education and engagement opportunities for the community.
Businesses/ employers can fulfill their tax obligations easily with #SeamlessFilingFromSoftware (#SFFS) and enjoy benefits such as extended filing due date and waiver of penalties for errors made due to unfamiliarity with the use of accounting and/or payroll software.
In line with the national drive towards electronic payments, all GST and Corporate Income Tax refunds are made electronically from Jan 2022, so that businesses can enjoy fast, secure and seamless e-refunds.
IRAS starts administering/ disbursing the Jobs Growth Incentive, the Rental Support Scheme, the Special Employment Credit Scheme, the Enabling Employment Credit Scheme, and the SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit.
Most IRAS notices and letters to taxpayers are digitised to enable convenient and instant access.
The “Update Notice Preferences” digital service is launched on myTax Portal to allow taxpayers to select their preferred mode of notification for new notices from IRAS.
The No-Filing Service is extended to self-employed persons (i.e. Commission Agents and Private Hire Car/Taxi Drivers) for the first time.
GST regimes on imported services via the Reverse Charge and Overseas Vendor Registration are implemented.
IRAS starts administering/disbursing the Jobs Support Scheme, the Foreign Worker Levy rebate, Government cash grant for rental relief to support businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
PayNow QR is introduced at myTax Portal to provide taxpayers with greater convenience in paying their taxes.
Form C-S (Lite) is introduced for companies with annual revenue of ≤$200,000 and requires them to complete only six essential fields.
A new seamless filing solution developed together with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and accounting software providers, is launched to enable SMEs to automate the generation of their tax and financial returns for seamless transmission to IRAS and ACRA.
IRAS joins the Bureau of the OECD Forum on Tax Administration (FTA), enabling us to jointly steer the work of the FTA and contribute thought leadership on tax administration matters.
Our electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS) system is refreshed to provide greater convenience to tourists, by allowing them to use their passports as tokens to make GST refund claims at the self-help kiosks in the airports.
Interactive Property Tax Bills (i-Bills) are sent to residential property owners to offer greater convenience, personalisation and seamless payment.
Virtual Assistant “Ask Jamie” on the IRAS website is enabled with Singpass authentication to provide case-specific self-help assistance for taxpayers.
An interactive on-boarding tool (“New Company Start-up Kit”) is introduced to provide tailored, bite-sized information on corporate tax to new companies.
Taxpayer and Business Service Centre now houses service counters from ACRA and Enterprise Singapore, as well as provides Corppass application services for a more convenient Whole-of-Government service experience for businesses.
Ng Wai Choong is appointed as Commissioner of Inland Revenue and Chief Executive Officer of IRAS.
Singapore’s exchange of information upon request regime has been rated as compliant (the highest overall rating a jurisdiction can achieve) with international tax transparency standards, by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.
IRAS celebrates its 25th anniversary as a statutory board.
myTax Portal is revamped with Responsive Web Design and user-friendly design features for optimal user experiences on desktop, smartphone and tablet.
IRAS hosts the 3rd OECD Forum on Tax Administration E-Services & Digital Delivery Workshop and the Brisbane Group Meeting.
IRAS embarked on a transformation movement by Leveraging Analytics, Design and Digitalisation (LEA:D) with the aim of transforming the experiences of both the taxpaying community and our staff.
An enterprise-wide Social Network Analysis tool is implemented to enhance IRAS’ compliance and fraud risk assessment capabilities.
Smartphone filing for individuals to file their income tax returns on-the-go is introduced.
An inaugural Hackathon is held to co-create tax solutions with the public.
e-Filing of Form C for corporate taxpayers is launched.
Auto-inclusion of commission income is implemented.
IRAS hosts the 45th Study Group of Asian Tax Administration and Research (SGATAR) Meeting.
A Simplified Record-Keeping (SRK) initiative is introduced to help small businesses lower their compliance cost.
Tan Tee How is appointed as Commissioner of Inland Revenue and Chief Executive Officer of IRAS.
IRAS administers the Wage Credit Scheme, which is part of the Transition Support Package announced in Budget 2013.
Property Tax rates for owner-occupied homes are made more progressive.
IRAS Facebook Page is launched in March 2013.
Simplified Form C (Form C-S), a 3-page income tax return for small companies, is introduced.
Small companies with turnover not exceeding S$1 million are not required to file their Estimated Chargeable Income (ECI) if it is estimated to be nil.
Dr. Tan Kim Siew is appointed as Commissioner of Inland Revenue and Chief Executive Officer of IRAS.
The electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS), a common electronic platform that reduces the turnaround time for tourists to claim GST refunds, is launched.
The Assisted Compliance Assurance Programme (ACAP) is launched to help businesses enhance their tax risk management and strengthen GST internal controls.
New e-Stamping website is launched for anyone to e-Stamp their documents and pay stamp duty online.
IRAS and MOF host the Second Meeting of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes in Sep 2010.
Follow IRAS on Twitter is launched.
Casino Tax is implemented in Feb 2010.
e-Filing of Partnership Return is introduced.
The [email protected] – Accounting Software Assistance Scheme for SMEs is introduced.
Speedy GIRO application for tax payment is made available at AXS machines.
IRAS administers Jobs Credit Scheme that provides cash grants to employers to help them preserve jobs. The scheme is part of the Resilience Package announced in Budget 2009.
The imputation system for corporate income tax ceases.
Estate Duty is abolished for deaths on or after 15 February.
Cess rate is reduced to 0% with effect from 1 July.
IRAS Gallery – The Singapore Tax Story is officially opened.
IRAS collects the Formula 1 levy on hotels for Singapore Tourism Board.
Compulsory e-Filing of GST is introduced in phases, starting from January.
IRAS launches the “No-Filing Service” where some taxpayers do not have to file their tax returns.
myTax Portal is launched.
IRAS introduces a service initiative to pay interest on late refunds.
GST is raised to 7 per cent.
IRIN wins the MIS Asia IT Excellence Award, in the Best Business Enabler (Government) category.
The Tax Academy of Singapore is set up in July.
The regulation of charities is transferred to the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.
The Tax Competitiveness Forum, comprising senior representatives from IRAS and other economic agencies, is set up to look into the longer-term tax strategies to enhance the competitiveness of the Singapore economy.
Moses Lee is appointed as Commissioner of Inland Revenue and Chief Executive Officer of IRAS.
IRAS hosts the 35th SGATAR meeting.
GST is raised further to 5 per cent.
The Inland Revenue Interactive Network (IRIN), that offers an integrated view of each taxpayer's interactions with IRAS across tax types, is unveiled.
IRAS attains the Singapore Quality Award.
The one-tier corporate income tax system is adopted.
GST is raised to 4 per cent.
e-Tax Clearance, the online application for tax clearance, is launched.
EASY, an online authorisation system for businesses, is launched.
Auto-inclusion of tax-exempt donations is implemented.
IRAS World, our first public gallery, is officially opened.
e-Notice of Transfer for property ownership is launched.
e-Pay, internet payment of individual income tax, property tax and TV licence fee, is launched.
Key IRAS processes attain the ISO 9000 certification.
e-Tax Guides, the online circulars published on IRAS website, replace Compass.
IRAS gains the People Developer Standard.
e-Filing of Estimated Chargeable Income for companies is launched.
The Taxpayer Service Pledge is launched.
The Taxpayer Feedback Panel is set up.
e-Stamping, the electronic stamping of documents, is launched.
IRAS attains the Singapore Quality Class.
In a link-up with Singapore Broadcasting Authority, IRAS collects TV licence fees together with property tax.
e-Filing of individual income tax via the internet is introduced.
Auto-inclusion of employment income is implemented.
Stamp duty is removed for all instruments, except those which relate to stocks, shares and immovable property, with effect from 28 February.
Electronic Valuation List, an online enquiry of the valuation of properties, is launched.
e-Filing of GST returns via CPF/IRASLine is introduced.
The first taxpayer focus group is held.
The first taxpayer survey is conducted.
Auto-inclusion of dividend income is extended to dividends paid through Central Depository and CPF agent banks.
Auto-inclusion of NSmen relief is introduced.
Koh Cher Siang is appointed as Commissioner of Inland Revenue and Chief Executive Officer of IRAS.
IRAS moves to Revenue House from four different locations, namely Fullerton Building, Albert Complex, Colombo Court and International Plaza.
IRAS offers full-day taxpayer service on Saturdays.
IRAS signs the First Collective Agreement with the IRASSU.
The Inland Revenue Integrated System (IRIS) is unveiled, pioneering an integrated system of imaging, ICR and workflow management.
Auto-inclusion of dividend income is first introduced for Singapore Telecom shares.
IRAS homepage is launched.
IRAS hosts the 25th SGATAR meeting.
Telephone filing for individual income tax is launched.
Student Volunteer Tax-Filing Service is introduced.
A simplified “4-line statement” tax form for sole-proprietors and partners is introduced.
The inaugural Budget Seminar is held.
Goods and Services Tax (GST) is introduced from 1 April.
IRAS takes over from Customs & Excise Department the collection of CESS for Singapore Tourist Promotion Board.
The annual filing deadline for individual income taxes is now a fixed date, 15 April.
The IRAS Staff Union (IRASSU) is formed in June.
InTax software for individual taxpayers is introduced.
“Compass”, a publication to explain and clarify tax laws, is launched.
Form B1, the simplified tax form for employees, is introduced.
Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal system for property tax assessments is implemented.
Inland Revenue Information Service, the automated 24-hour telephone answering system, is launched.
IRD is converted to a statutory board and renamed Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).
Legal Requisition system for lawyers dealing with property transactions is launched.
Koh Yong Guan is appointed as Commissioner of Inland Revenue.
The concessionary property tax rate of 4% for owner-occupied residential property is introduced.
Information Management System, a new computer system for income tax and property tax, is rolled out.
Corporate income tax rate comes down from 40% to 33%, in the first major reduction.
Inland Revenue Department (IRD) hosts the 16th SGATAR meeting.
Payroll tax is suspended.
IRD administers the Charities Act.
Payment of individual income tax in instalments can be made through the GIRO scheme.
IRD hosts the 6th meeting of the Study Group on Asian Tax Administration and Research (SGATAR).
The first computer, an IBM 360, is brought in to replace the accounting machines.
IRD is headed by its first local Commissioner, Hsu Tse-Kwang.
The Economic Expansion Incentives Act is introduced.
Payroll tax is introduced and administered by IRD.
Property tax comes under the purview of the IRD.
The first avoidance of double taxation agreement is signed.
The Singapore Income Tax Department becomes the IRD, with stamp duty, estate duty, private lotteries and betting and sweepstake duties coming under the department’s purview.
N.V. Casey becomes the first Commissioner of Inland Revenue.
The Pioneer Industries (Relief from Income Tax) Ordinance is introduced.
G.T. Holloway is the Income Tax Department’s second comptroller.