HOTELS & TOURISM | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Tourism cess payments could cover more businesses

The MTI and STB proposed this in a public consultation to amend the Cess Collection Act.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) are seeking public feedback on the proposed amendments to the Singapore Tourism (Cess Collection) Act.

The first amendment will allow MTI/STB to add new types of persons or entities that are key beneficiaries of a specific tourist event and liable to pay cess. Nevertheless, there are no immediate plans to gazette new types of persons or entities to be liable to pay cess.

“As the tourism landscape evolves, there could be more key beneficiaries of a tourist event – be it different types of businesses and/or new and evolving business models. The scope of persons or entities that may be liable to pay cess needs to be updated to accommodate the above changes,” the agencies said.

The Cess Act was enacted in 1972 to provide for the collection of cess from tourist hotels, tourist food establishments and tourist public houses for the promotion of tourism.

Other changes include clarifying the scope for the imposition of cess to the transaction and supply of goods and services. “This amendment will clarify that the scope for the imposition of cess applies to all goods and services which are transacted and/or supplied by the tourist establishment,” MTI and STB added.
“The above change will provide clarity to the tourist establishments on circumstances where cess is payable. In addition, a validation clause will also be included to confirm the validity of past cess payments made by hotels,” the agencies said.

MTI and STB also proposed to broaden the Chief Executive’s power to obtain information from all persons or entities that may be liable to pay cess. “The Chief Executive will be able to request information, including digital records, from all persons and entities, before assessing the need to gazette them as a person or entity liable for cess payment. Such powers will be limited to specific purposes, such as to advise the Minister on whether a person or entity should be made liable to pay cess. The access to information will also include digital records as information is increasingly stored digitally,” they said.

Lastly, the two proposed to increase the records retention period specified under current Section 9 from 2 years to 5 years to align the Cess Act with the GST Act, and also allow STB to access older records should the need arise.

The Cess Act was last amended in August 2008 to provide for cess to be used in more targeted ways to fund specific tourist events and to change the nature of cess from a consumption tax to a business tax on relevant tourist establishments.

The public consultation period is from 6 March 2018 to 13 March 2018. 

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