Amendments to Goods and Services Tax in Singapore

In November 2013, the Goods and Services Tax Amendment passed in Singapore. The Amendment, also known as the “Bill,” will result in several changes to the Singapore Goods and Services Tax that will affect both taxpayers and tourists. Anyone living in or visiting Singapore or planning a Singapore company formation should be aware of these GST changes.

Local Agent

One of the first changes that the Goods and Services Tax Amendment will create in Singapore is the enforcement of previous obligations upon a new local agent as necessary. Previously the GST accounted for a single local agent to facilitate international business dealings to allow overseas companies to supply and import goods from Singapore in a timely and smooth manner. Local agents for these companies could change, however, creating a rift in the process. The new amendment mandates that any new local agents appointed as overseers of international accounts will inherit the previous obligations of the last agent. This amendment should be beneficial in maintaining order in business deals.

Fraud Investigations

Instances of fraud have previously been an issue for the import and export of goods and services in Singapore. In order to combat these issues, the new amendment stipulates that the Comptroller of the tax will be able to seize any goods that are suspect to fraud prior to or during shipping and receiving in order to fully inspect them to prevent possible fraud from occurring. Any persons who are suspected of committing fraud are also subject to this new amendment and can be arrested without a warrant. In addition to fraud investigation, the amendment also permits the Comptroller of the tax to fully prosecute any offenders to the full extent possible for fraud under law. In addition to these changes, the IRAS will also be able to share information with the Commercial Affairs Department and Singapore Police Force in order to investigate and prosecute possible crimes.


The current incarnation of the GST Act prohibits the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore from releasing any taxpayer information, even during investigation under tax administration. The new amendment to the tax act widens the scope of the taxpayer information that can be shared in order to be used for both statistical as well as research purposes in order to assist the government and any statuary boards with investigations as well as efforts to improve laws. The information used will be rendered anonymous in order to protect each citizen’s confidentiality while still providing data to the government and statuary boards. Any information about professional misconduct related to goods and services may also be reported beneath this amendment.

Tax Repayment

Currently, the Approved Refiner and Consolidation Scheme provides certain individuals with the right to avoid paying a goods and services tax fee whenever they make a purchase through an approved supplier. Some individuals, however, have escaped paying any applicable taxes without meeting the demands of the exemption or purchasing from a supplier who meets the criteria for the exemption. In such cases, the new amendment calls for any individuals who have neglected to pay their taxes to hereby be charged for the taxes with a repayment. This section of the amendment is only applicable if the individual failed to meet the criteria during the time of supply, but not prior to or after the purchase.

Expanded Definitions

Beneath the previous incarnation of tax law, the term “refine” was limited to describing only the process or conversion of goods into investment precious metals or other precious metals, as well as the extraction of metals. The new amendment calls for an adaptation to this definition through an expansion of the term. When the new amendment is implemented, the term “refine” will hereby include not just the process, conversion, and extraction of metals but also the actual casting of metals. This broader definition is intended to help better encompass the metal refinement process. The term “public officer” will also be expanded beneath the amendment to include IRAS for tax purposes.

Persons interested in further researching the 2013 Goods and Services Tax Amendment may find more information about the Bill online.

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