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Singapore Government Refunding SGD $7.5M in Wrongfully-Charged GST

On February 14th, the Singapore government reported that at least SGD $7.5 million in GST (goods and services tax) was wrongfully charged on fees for 18 government services and affected taxpayers will get a refund.

Today, Pacific Prime CXA will go over the Singapore government’s tax refund on the affected taxpayers following the wrongful collection of GST.

Overview on the Wrongful GST Collection

The 18 government service fees were wrongfully deemed as processing fees by six agencies.

These include the Council for Estate Agencies, the Housing Board, Land Transport Authority (LTA), the Singapore Food Agency, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), and the Office of the Public Guardian (under the Ministry of Social and Family Development).

Due to the misclassification, GST was demanded as people and business paid for these 18 government services ranging from real estate agent license renewals and renting a HDB (Housing & Development Board) flat or bedroom to applying to operate a food processing company.

The Amount of Wrongfully-Charged GST

 

The least-charged GST was SGD $0.70 for Class 2 bus service license amendment fees and around SGD $1 for administrative fees for renting an HDB flat or bedroom.

Meanwhile, the highest-charged GST ranged from SGD $210-$560 for individual landed housing developments and sums between SGD $10.50-$1,500 for larger developments.

The URA also wrongfully charged GST on processing fees for the lodgement of documents for development purposes.

The Wrongfully-Charged GST

Council for Estate Agencies

  • Application for real estate agent license granting or renewals: SGD $7
  • Application for real estate salesperson registration: SGD $3.50

Housing & Development Board

  • Administrative fees for HDB flat or bedroom renting: Approx SGD $1
  • Administrative fees for HDB flat acquisition: SGD $15

Land Transport Authority (LTA)

  • Class 2 bus service license amendment fee: SGD $0.70
  • Conversion fee from Private Hire Car Driver’s Vocational License to Taxi Driver’s Vocational License: SGD $2.10
  • Export processing zone entry fee: SGD $2.50
  • Application fee for autonomous vehicle authorization: SGD $2.40
  • Application fee to place vehicles in the Keeping Scheme: SGD $42.70
  • Application fee to change Keeping Scheme vehicles’ garage addresses: SGD $12.20
  • Application fee for Special Purpose License: SGD $20.10
  • Application fee for major modifications on a registered vehicle that need LTA approval: SGD $4.40
  • Application and extension fees for aftermarket vehicle accessory approvals: SGD $15

Office of the Public Guardian

  • Application fee to register as a professional deputy: SGD $36
  • Application fee to register for a Lasting Power of Attorney: SGD $9.70

Singapore Food Agency

  • Application fee for license to operate a food processing establishment (including coldstores and slaughterhouses): SGD $13

Urban Redevelopment Authority

  • Processing fee for planning permission to carry out development work: SGD $10-$1,500
  • Processing fee for lodgement of documents to carry out development work: SGD $10-$84

To prevent incorrect GST charges in the future, Singapore’s Ministry of Finance will amend the GST Act to prescribe a list of regulatory fees which should not be charged with GST. Such legislative amendments will be tabled in the coming months.

Refunds

The HDB (Housing & Development Board)

The HDB incorrectly charged GST when people applied to rent out their flats and bedrooms, as well as compulsory flat acquisitions.

As a result, they will reach out to some 50,000 affected taxpayers from the middle of March based on available records. Any affected taxpayers not reached out to by June 30th can submit a refund request through the HDBInfoWeb by December 31st.

The LTA (Land Transport Authority)

On the other hand, the LTA will progressively carry out their refund process from March 1st to June 30th. This came as a result of the LTA charging GST on nine fees ranging from vehicle modifications to taxi driver’s vocational license, among many others.

The LTA will credit refunds, ranging from SGD 70 cents to $42.70/transaction, to affected taxpayers with LTA-registered bank accounts or through their PayNow accounts.

For those whose bank accounts aren’t LTA-registered, you’ll need to update your bank account details on the OneMotoring site, or register for a PayNow account with their bank and notify the LTA. The agency will then notify recipients when they successfully credit refunds.

The OPG (Office of Public Guardian)

The OPG erroneously charged GST on Lasting Power of Attorney and professional deputy registrations. Refunds will be made to affected taxpayers via PayNow or to their bank account used for other citizen reimbursement schemes such as the GST Voucher scheme.

In case any of the affected taxpayers died, the executor or administrator of their estate or their relatives can reach out to the OPG via enquiry@publicguardian.gov.sg or call 1800-226-6222.

The URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority)

The URA will refund GST on development application and lodgement fees whenever people apply for the change of use of premises. From March 1st to June 30th, the URA will contact the affected taxpayers who made their transactions on or after January 1st, 2019, to proceed with the refunds.

Whoever was incorrectly charged with GST prior to January 1st, 2019, can apply to the URA for refunds via the GST Refund FormSG on the URA’s site from July 1st.

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Content Writer at Pacific Prime Thailand
Wish Sutthatothon (Nickname: Guy) is currently a content writer at Pacific Prime Thailand, an insurance broker that connects individuals and businesses with insurance providers worldwide. He creates and edits blog articles, guides, reports, webpages, and other types of digital content.

He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts, Media & Communication major (concentration: Creative Content) from Mahidol University International College (MUIC). During the compulsory major elective period in the summer of 2021 and voluntarily during the summer of 2022, he also interned as a video and photo editor at Mbrella Films.

He has experience working as an English Content Writer at a real estate buying/renting/selling platform in Thonglor. There, he crafted company blog posts on a multitude of topics. Topics include market trends, legal issues and disputes in property businesses, financial guides, expat guides, home insurance, home decoration and maintenance, and weekly real estate news quick-recaps. Occasionally, as part of the blog-writing process, he would also translate existing Thai blogs to English.

In his free time, Guy enjoys doing scriptwriting and storytelling for comic strips, watching movies, and listening to music (particularly film scores).
Wish Sutthatothon