For the benefit of recent graduates or foreigners who have just entered the local workforce, the personal income tax filing season in Singapore is from March to April every year.
You will need to report all relevant sources of income* earned from prior year 1 January to 31 December to IRAS by April if you’re doing e-filing. In case you haven’t been reading the news, tax filing has been simplified with tax bills to be sent to selected taxpayers directly instead of filing notice.
The current income tax rate in Singapore ranges between 2% and 22%, which is charged based on your taxable annual income less tax reliefs.
To help you reduce your tax bill, read this guide for the personal income tax rebates you may qualify!
What are the common tax reliefs I can claim?
Having just entered the workforce recently, you are probably a single in your early 20s, fresh out of school or national service in the past one or two years. Here are some common tax reliefs you may claim, classified into five categories:
1. Saving for your retirement:
- CPF cash top-up relief, and
- Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) relief**
2. Supporting your family:
- (Handicapped) Parent/ (Handicapped) Grandparent/ Handicapped Sibling relief
3. Lifelong learning and skill upgrading:
5. Protecting your dependants:
Note that the maximum tax relief you can claim is S$80,000 per year. Therefore, you should check the reliefs you may qualify and plan ahead so as to maximise your tax rebates.
1. Saving for your retirement
“I just started working, isn’t it too early to start saving for retirement?” Nope, it’s never too early to start saving. In fact, the earlier you start, your retirement savings will have much more time and potential to grow!
Topping up your CPF account with cash is one of the easiest and ideal ways to save and reduce your tax bill at the same time. The CPF interest rate is currently fixed at 4% per annum for Special and Retirement accounts. Besides, you get dollar-to-dollar deduction from your chargeable income for the cash you put into these accounts, subject to the following caps:
These two reliefs are granted automatically to eligible taxpayers based on CPF Board records, so you don’t need to claim them.
2. Supporting your family
If you are working to support your family members, be it parents, grandparents or handicapped siblings, the good news is there is some relief in terms of tax deductions. Refer to below table to see if you qualify for these tax reliefs and how much you can claim:
Do note the following exclusions before you claim:
- You may claim Parent/ Handicapped Parent Relief for up to two dependants only
- You may share the Parent/ Handicapped Parent Relief based on an agreed
apportionment between the claimants
- You will not be able to claim Handicapped Sibling Relief if someone else in
the household has already claimed any other reliefs on the same sibling.
3. Lifelong learning and skill upgrading
You may have graduated from formal education, but that doesn’t mean you should stop learning. In fact, you will qualify for Course Fees relief of up to S$5,500 if you have attended any training relevant to your current employment. Even if the course you attended isn’t related to your current employment, don’t be in a hurry to throw away those invoices. You can still claim for tax relief in the future when you make a successful career switch. It certainly pays if you continue to upgrade or reskill to enhance employability in the new economy! Don’t stop learning.
With initiatives led by SkillsFuture – the national movement that provides opportunities for all Singaporeans to develop to their fullest potential at different stages of their lives – it is so much easier and affordable to learn.
To encourage Singaporeans to give back to the community, donations to IPCs (Institutions of a Public Character), IPC facilities, events or programmes qualify for a generous 250% tax deduction.
Simply put, if you donated S$2,000 to SPCA in 2020, you will get S$2,000 x 250% = S$5,000 deducted from your chargeable income this year. Besides cash donations, you may also donate the following tax-deductible items to qualify for the relief:
- SGX-listed shares
- Units in locally traded unit trusts
- Artefacts, sculptures or artworks to National Heritage Board
5. Protecting your dependants
Did you know that you can also claim tax relief for annual premiums paid on your life insurance policies? This is provided:
- your total CPF contribution for the year doesn’t exceed S$5,000, and
- the insurance company must have a branch or office in Singapore.
While you may flinch at the thought of burdening your financial commitments with buying life insurance, it is actually a wise move to make. The younger you make that purchase, the cheaper your premium is for maximum coverage. Furthermore, you will be able to lift the financial burden off your dependants in the unfortunate event of your death, total and permanent disability or critical illness.
Make your money work for you
Act soon based on this guide for some tax savings next year. It doesn’t matter how much you have; what matters more is how you make your money work.
* Refer to the IRAS page on taxable and non-taxable income in Singapore here
** for Singaporeans and Singapore permanent residents only
IRAS (2020, February 17) https://www.iras.gov.sg/irashome/Individuals/Locals/Working-Out-YourTaxes/Income-Tax-Rates/
CPF (2020) https://www.cpf.gov.sg/Members/AboutUs/about-us-info/cpf-interest-rates
IRAS (2020, February 25) https://www.iras.gov.sg/IRASHome/Individuals/Locals/Working-Out-YourTaxes/Deductions-for-Individuals/CPF-Cash-Top-up-Relief/
IRAS (2020, November 18) https://www.iras.gov.sg/IRASHome/Schemes/Individuals/SupplementaryRetirement-Scheme–SRS-/
Information is accurate as at 13 March 2022.
Contributed by Tiq by Etiqa Insurance Pte. Ltd.
With a shared vision to empower more to be ready for their best future today, Autumn partners with Tiq, a digital insurance channel to make insurance transparent and accessible, inspiring you today to be prepared for life’s surprises and inevitabilities, while empowering you to “Live Unlimited” and take control of your tomorrow.
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The information in this article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, investment advice, trading advice, or recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by Autumn.