Celebrating Singapore’s 50th year of independence, the 2015 budget was delivered by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance on 23 February 2015. Also known as the “Jubilee Budget”, much of the focus in the budget has been placed on the country’s ability to provide the required resources to Singaporeans for their future, for example, through promoting innovation and by providing tax incentives to encourage the businesses for their international efforts.
Below are some of the highlights:
Corporate Income Tax Rebate
The Corporate Income Tax Rate remains at 17% and the partial tax exemption of a company’s first $300,000 of normal chargeable income (CI) is also to stay in place. The Corporate Income Tax Rebate which allows companies to receive a 30% rebate on their tax payable to a cap of $30,000 will be extended for another two Year of Assessments (YAs) until 2017 YA. However, the maximum rebate will reduce to $20,000 in 2016 and 2017 YAs from current $30,000. Companies that have chargeable income less than $540,000 (ie. in YAs 2016 and 2017) will not be affected by the new measure.
Change in Top Marginal Tax Rate
The marginal tax rates for the highest income earners with chargeable income above $320,000 will increase from 20% to 22%. However, the government has also announced a personal income tax rebate of 50% capped at $1,000 per taxpayer, which is be granted to all tax resident individual taxpayers for YA 2015.
Double Tax Deduction for Internationalisation Scheme
Businesses may claim 200% tax deduction on qualifying expenditure incurred on qualifying market expansion and investment development activities. The scope of qualifying expenditure supported under the Double Tax Deduction (DTD) for Internationalisation scheme will be enhanced to include qualifying manpower expenses incurred for Singaporeans posted to new overseas entities.
The amount of qualifying manpower expenses to be allowed a DTD will be capped at $1m per approved entity per year for expenses incurred from 1 July 2015 to 31 March 2020. Businesses will have to apply to International Enterprise (IE) Singapore to enjoy the concession on manpower expenses. Further details to be released by May 2015.
Introduction of International Growth Scheme (IGS)
This is a new scheme by the Government with the aim of providing greater and more targeted support for larger Singapore companies in their internationalisation efforts. Under the IGS, qualifying Singapore companies will enjoy a concessionary tax rate of 10% for a period not exceeding five years on their incremental income from qualifying activities such as headquarter functions and specific business lines. IE will release further details by May 2015.
Approved Royalties Incentive (ARI)
The ARI was introduced to encourage companies to access cutting-edge technology and know-how for substantive activities in Singapore. Under the scheme, tax exemption or a concessionary tax rate may be granted on approved royalties, technical assistance fees or contributions to R&D costs made to a non-resident for providing cutting-edge technology and know-how to a company for the purpose of its substantive activities in Singapore. A review date of 31 December 2023 will be legislated for this scheme to ensure that the relevance of the scheme is periodically reviewed.
Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) Scheme & PIC Bonus
The Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme was enhanced in 2011 to grant a total of 400% tax deduction or allowance for the first for the first $400,000 of expenditure for qualifying expenses incurred from YA 2011 to YA 2018. The qualifying activities are (subject to conditions):
- R&D activities
- registration of intellectual property rights (IPR)
- acquisition of IPR
- investments in design done in Singapore
- spending on equipment or software aimed at automating processes; and
- costs of training employees so as to upgrade skills and capabilities
To encourage small businesses to undertake meaningful productivity investments, businesses that invest a minimum $5,000 per YA in qualifying activities under the PIC scheme are entitled to the cash bonus (PIC Bonus) equal to the PIC expenditure incurred up to an overall cap of $15,000 for all three YAs combined (YA 2013 – YA 2015). There has been a good take-up of the PIC scheme and the PIC Bonus will be allowed to expire after YA 2015 as it was intended as a transitional measure. However, businesses will continue to benefit from the PIC scheme extended until YA 2018.