ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Finance ministry opens public consultation for property tax act changes

The changes will implement an "opt-out" approach for digital property tax notices.

The Ministry of Finance announced a public consultation on the proposed amendments to the Property Tax Act of Singapore.

The proposed changes comprise of three amendments intended to update the legislation and to improve tax administration. For one, the changes will clarify that machinery that is used for providing the setting / controlled environment for business and industrial processes to take place in the building or for storage of articles is to be assessed, together with the land or building on which it has been affixed, for property tax.

"In other words, such machinery is not exempted from property tax. If approved by the Parliament, this change is to take effect from 1 January 2018. The amendment will provide clarity and certainty to taxpayers," MOF said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the changes will also provide the basis to implement an “opt-out” approach for digital property tax notices.

"The widespread use of computers and mobile devices allows taxpayers to receive digital instead of hardcopy tax notices. The use of digital notices gives taxpayers greater convenience, security and timeliness of alert. To enable more taxpayers to benefit from digital channels, the Act will be amended so that taxpayers who wish to continue receiving hard copies can opt out while others will receive digital tax notices," the finance ministry noted.

More so, the amendments to the law will provide clarity and will enhance the information gathering powers of the Comptroller of Property Tax, the Chief Assessor and the officers authorised by either of them in that behalf.

According to MOF, the changes will allow the Comptroller of Property Tax, the Chief Assessor and their authorised officers to do the following:

  • Require persons to attend personally before the Comptroller, Chief Assessor or an officer authorised by them, to provide information at a time and place specified by them.
  • Require any person to be examined orally and provide information for investigation by the Comptroller, Chief Assessor, or an officer authorised by them, if the person appears to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances concerning the person’s or another person’s properties.
  • Enhance the penalties for failure to comply with a request of information made by the Comptroller, Chief Assessor or an officer authorised by them. This amendment will strengthen IRAS’ enforcement and information-gathering powers.

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