A2000 Solutions Pte Ltd, a Singapore accounting software company, provides ERP, financial accounting software, sales and distribution, POS and inventory management system; that empowers business, create dynamic response to market changes for small medium sized industries.

 

Singapore GST Accounting Software


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A21 family of accounting software are fully compliant  to the GST reporting regime in Singapore.


Introduction to Singapore Goods and Services Tax

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Singapore is similar to Valued Added Tax (VAT) imposed in many other countries and was introduced in Singapore since 1st April 1994. The GST Act is modeled on the UK VAT legislation and New Zealand GST legislation. The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) acts as the agent of the Singapore government and administers, assesses, collects and enforces payment of GST.

Introduction of GST gives the Government the means to lower personal and corporate income tax rates while maintaining a steady revenue base. GST is an indirect tax as it taxes expenditure. The current rate of GST is 7%.

This document contains information extracted from IRAS and aims to provide a general overview of the key concepts of Singapore's GST system pertinent to Singapore companies.


What is GST?

Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a consumption tax that is levied on the supply of goods and services in Singapore and the import of goods into Singapore. GST is an indirect tax, expressed as a percentage (currently 7%) applied to the selling price of goods and services provided by GST registered business entities in Singapore.

GST tax is charged to the end consumer therefore GST normally does not become a cost to the company. Businesses merely act as collecting agents on behalf of Singapore tax department.


GST - what does it mean for a Singaporean company?

If you are GST registered, you are required to collect GST tax from your customers for the goods and services rendered by your company and then pay the collected tax to The Comptroller of GST (IRAS). As an example, if you charged S$1,000 for your goods or services to a customer in Singapore, you must invoice your customer S$1,070 (S$1,000 for your service plus 7% GST). This GST amount in the invoice (appropriately must be called a Tax Invoice) collected on behalf of IRAS from your customer must be sent to Singapore tax department on a quarterly basis via GST tax filing.


Are Singapore companies required to collect GST tax?

No unless your company is mandated to register for GST if your annual turnover exceeds S$1 million.


When paying GST tax collected from customers, can the Singapore company offset the GST tax charged by its suppliers?

Yes. The GST charged by a company to its customers is known as output tax whereas GST paid by the company to its suppliers is called input tax. What you pay to (or claim back from) the tax authorities is difference between your output and input tax.


If a Singapore company is not GST registered, can it collect GST tax?

No. Goods and Services Tax in Singapore can only be collected by GST registered entities.


Must a Singapore company collect GST when exporting goods or services out of Singapore?

No. Export goods and services are called zero rated supplies and GST tax is not applicable.


If a company is not required to register, is it beneficial to register for GST?

It depends. If you are required to register for GST, you have no choice. Otherwise however, you should consider the following pros and cons of GST registration:

Benefits

To the government

  1. It generates a stable and predictable tax income in both good and weak economic environment.
  2. It is an efficient tax due to the comparatively lower cost of administration and collection.
  3. It allows the Government to lower corporate and personal income taxes, which in turn encourages more foreign direct investment. This leads to overall economic growth.

To businesses and individuals

  1. Most large, established businesses are GST registered - getting your business GST registered is often a signal to customers that your business is an established business and has certain size.
  2. GST is a fairer tax system. It taxes the self-employed and wage earners only when they spend their money.
  3. GST taxes apply only on consumption. Savings and investment are not taxed. This will encourage people to save and invest in productive activities.
  4. Cost of doing business is reduced, thereby contributing to lower prices. Businesses do not suffer a tax cost due to the multi-stage credit mechanism since the real taxpayer is the end-user.

Drawbacks

  1. The disadvantage of GST registration is the administrative burden that comes with discharging the duties and responsibilities of GST registration.
  2. One must either study the intricacies of GST or pay an accountant to undertake this work which in some cases can be a reasonably high cost.
  3. Being GST registered effectively increases your selling price by 7%. Your customers who are not GST registered would not be able to recover the GST you charge. So although your costs are reduced because you can recover GST, your customers might not be too pleased.
  4. GST can be a burden to lower income groups, especially during times of high inflation when the 7% tax is paid on the increasing price of daily essentials.

What kind of goods and services are subject to GST?

GST is charged on taxable supplies. A taxable supply, is a supply of goods or services made in Singapore, other than an exempt supply. A taxable supply can either be a standard rated (currently 7%) or zero-rated supply.

Most local sales of goods and provision of local services are standard-rated supplies.

Zero-rated supplies of goods and services are subject to 0% GST. A GST registered entity who makes zero-rated supplies is able to claim a credit for input tax paid on purchases of inputs. In Singapore, exports of goods and provision of international services are zero-rated supplies.

GST is not chargeable on exempt supplies, of which there are two categories - sale and lease of residential land; and financial services.

The difference between zero-rated and exempt supplies is that an entity who makes exempt supplies cannot claim input GST.

Out of scope supplies refers to supplies which are outside the scope of the GST Act. In general, they are:

  • Transfer of business as a going concern
  • Private transactions
  • Third country sales - refers to sale of goods from a place outside Singapore to another place outside Singapore
  • Sales made within Zero GST Warehouse

What are the GST registration requirements?

GST is a self-assessed tax and businesses are required to continually assess the need to be registered for GST. GST registration falls into two categories: compulsory registration and voluntary registration.

Compulsory registration

Registering for GST is compulsory when

  • the turnover of your business is more than 1 million Singapore Dollars for the past 12 months - known as the retrospective basis OR
  • you are currently making sales and you can reasonably expect the turnover of your business to exceed 1 million Singapore Dollars for the next 12 months - known as the prospective basis.

Please note that failing to register will attract penalties. There are anti-avoidance provisions to ensure that entities are not established merely to keep turnovers less than the threshold and thereby avoid registration.

Voluntary registration

You may apply to voluntarily register for GST if you are not liable to compulsorily register and you satisfy the following conditions:

  • Your annual turnover is not more than 1 million SGD, or
  • You only supply goods outside Singapore (out-of-scope supplies), or
  • You make exempt supplies of financial services that are also deemed as international services

The advantage of voluntary registration is that you can enjoy the benefits of claiming input tax incurred in the course of your business. This is especially so when you make purely zero-rated supplies (exports or international services). Please note, once you are voluntarily registered, you must remain registered for at least two years and you have to maintain all your records for at least five years, even after your business has ceased and you have deregistered from GST. You may also have to comply with any additional conditions that are imposed by the tax authority.

Exemption from Registration

If you make only zero-rated supplies you can apply for an exemption from registration, even if your taxable turnover exceeds the registration limits. This allows you to escape from the administrative requirement of GST registration, as you would only be reclaiming and not paying tax to the IRAS, since the cost to you is the input tax. IRAS will approve the exemption, if more than 90% of your total supplies are zero-rated and if your input tax is greater than your output tax.

De-registration

You can cancel your registration when your business stops or when your business is sold as a whole to another person or when your sales figures do not exceed 1 million SGD. You must submit an application form, along with other relevant documents to the tax authority within 30 days from the date of cessation.


What is GST registration procedure?

A Singapore Goods and Services registration form (GST F1) along with the necessary supporting documents must be sent to the tax authority. An additional form (GST F3), giving details of all the partners must be completed, in the case of partnerships. Separate application procedures/forms are available for overseas companies, group registration and divisional registration. Overseas registrants are expected to appoint a local agent who will act on its behalf and must include a letter, along with the application form, stating the same.

The registration process takes approximately 3 weeks. Upon successful GST registration, you will receive a Notification of GST Registration letter. This letter will contain your GST number, your filing frequency and filing due dates as well as any other special instructions. You must file your GST returns electronically.


How to pay, charge and implement GST?

As a GST registered entity, you are responsible for charging GST on supply of goods and services and remitting the GST charged to IRAS.

  1. You can either charge GST on top of your selling price or absorb the GST by treating the price as GST-inclusive.
  2. As a GST registered trader you must show and quote GST-inclusive prices on all prices displayed, advertised, published and quoted verbally or in writing. Failure to display GST-inclusive prices to the public is an offence and carries a penalty. However, for goods and services subject to service charge (F & B industry), prices displayed may be GST-exclusive.
  3. When billing customers, a tax invoice must be issued when the customer is a GST registered entity so that the latter can use it as a supporting document to claim input tax on the standard-rated purchases. It contains information on what is being sold and the respective GST charged and can be used to replace a normal invoice. Tax invoices must be retained for at least five years as part of your business records. Note that tax invoices are not required to be submitted along with your GST returns. In general, it is to be issued within 30 days of the time of supply. A tax invoice need not be issued for zero-rated, exempt and deemed supplies or to non-GST registered customer.
  4. When payment has been made to you, you must issue a serially printed receipt to the payer if a tax invoice or simplified tax invoice has not been issued by you.
  5. You must keep records of all your business transactions that affect your GST declarations. Additionally, keeping of a GST account (summary of the totals of your input tax and output tax for each accounting period) will facilitate your completion of GST returns.
  6. You should make your input tax claims in the accounting period according to the date of the tax invoice or import permits.

How to file GST returns?

As a GST registered entity, you are required to submit a return, (GST F5) to the tax authorities based on your accounting cycle, normally on a quarterly basis. In your return, you will indicate the total value of your local sales, exports and purchases from GST registered entities, the GST collected and GST claimed for that accounting period. GST Returns are now filed electronically. Once you have started to e-file your GST F5, your next GST return will be made available online by the end of each accounting period. You can e-file your GST F5 one day after the end of the accounting period. You must ensure that IRAS receives your return not later than one month after the end of your prescribed accounting period. If there is no tax due for the said period, you must still submit a ‘nil’ return. Penalties will be imposed if you file the GST return late. This is regardless of whether the net GST declared is a payable or refundable amount.

You must pay the net GST within 1 month after the end of your accounting period. Penalties will be imposed if you are late in making the GST payment. GST refunds will usually be made within 30 days from the date of receipt of the return.
Are there any GST Schemes to help businesses?

The Singapore Government has introduced several assistance schemes relating to GST. These schemes generally help to ease the cash flow for businesses and help create a pro-business environment.

  1. Tourist refund scheme, allows tourists who buy goods in Singapore from participating GST registered retailers to claim a refund of the GST paid if the goods are brought out of Singapore
  2. Cash Accounting Scheme, is specifically for small businesses whose annual sales do not exceed SGD 1 million.
  3. Under the Gross Margin Scheme, GST is chargeable only on the gross margin of your goods.
  4. The Major Exporter Scheme (MES), is designed to help the cash flow of major exporters who have significant imports.
  5. Under the Approved Contract Manufacturer and Trader (ACMT) Scheme, you are not required to charge GST when you are instructed by your overseas customer to deliver your finished goods to his customers in Singapore. As per the Approved Marine Fuel trader (MFT) Scheme, you are not required to pay GST when you purchase marine fuel oil from a local GST registered supplier.
  6. The Hand Carried Exports Scheme, is if you wish to zero-rate your supply of goods made to an overseas customer and your goods are hand-carried out of Singapore via Changi International Airport.
  7. Under the Zero GST Warehouse Scheme, businesses can transform their warehouses into zero-GST warehouses to minimize red tape and bypass the GST process.
  8. Approved Third Party Logistics Scheme, allows you to import goods belonging to yourself or your overseas principal without paying GST upon importation.

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