Podcast: Avoiding Crypto Tax Pitfalls with Boon Tan and Chris Holland

CST    |   20 May 2024   |   1 min read

In a podcast episode of Barely Legal in Web 3, hosted by Jamilia Grier, Boon Tan, the managing director of CST Tax Advisors, and Chris Holland from Holland & Marie discussed the crypto tax issues and challenges in the Web3 space.

In this episode, our tax experts discussed how to successfully launch token offerings and how the crypto tax system works in Singapore. Gain valuable insights as they delve into the tax issues facing crypto businesses to avoid common pitfalls.

You may also listen to the podcast on Spotify.

Here is a link to the podcast transcript.

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Capital Gains Tax Introduction on the Sale of Foreign Assets

Boon Tan   |   3 Aug 2023   |   4 min read

In June 2023, the Ministry of Finance released a draft of the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2023. The contents of this Bill cover the announcements made in the 2023 Budget Statement and amendments which will bring the Singapore Tax Act inline with international standards. 

A key proposal in this Bill is the introduction of taxation on capital gains made from the sale of foreign assets, after 1 January 2024, where the proceeds are received in Singapore without the company having sufficient economic substance in Singapore.  

Section 10L, if enacted by parliament, is to align Singapore with the European Union Code of Conduct Group guidance in respect to these types of transactions.

Companies Affected by the New Legislation

Currently Singapore does not have a capital gain tax regime – meaning that profits derived from capital transactions, such as the sale of real estate, equipment, rights are exempt from taxation. 

The absence of capital gains tax has made Singapore a popular location for companies to hold assets which are based outside of Singapore and exploited for the benefit of the consolidated group. It is important to note that this provision only applies to Singapore companies which are part of a wider consolidated group. Meaning that the use of Singapore as a jurisdiction to establish a special purpose vehicle company may still be appropriate. 

The key points regarding the application of the provision are:

  1. The Singapore company which has disposed of the foreign asset must be part of a consolidated group. The company will be a member of a consolidated group if its financial accounts are consolidated by the parent entity.
  2. The group in question must have at least one member which operates its business outside of Singapore. 
  3. The foreign capital gain is either: 
    • Remitted to a Singapore bank account; or 
    • Applied against any debt incurred in relation to the operations carried out in Singapore; or 
    • The value of any immovable property brought to Singapore which has been acquired using the proceeds from the capital gain.
  4. Provision for IRAS to apply the market value to a transaction where it deems that the disposal of the asset was not undertaken on an arm’s length basis.

Exclusion of Some Industries and Exemptions

As a major commercial hub in the world, the proposed Bill does provide for the exclusions of some industries (e.g. financial) and Groups which have been awarded concessionary or exempt tax status. 

Where a company does not fall into these exemption categories, the Bill does define an “excluded entity”, which would not be subject to this change. This definitional exclusion is where the economic substance test comes into play. 

The definition allows for pure equity holding companies, and non-pure equity holding companies. A pure entity holding company’s main function in the group is to hold shares and derive income from dividends and the disposal of shares. 

If the company is a pure equity holding company, to be excluded from Section 10L, it must demonstrate that:

  1. The company complies with its annual lodgement obligations, and 
  2. The operations are managed and performed in Singapore. 

For a non-pure equity holding company, there are additional conditions to satisfy:

  1. The company carries on a trade in Singapore; and
  2. Operations are managed and performed in Singapore; and 
  3. There is sufficient economic substance in Singapore taking into account: 
    • The number of employees in Singapore performing the operations; 
    • The qualifications and experience of the employees in Singapore; 
    • The amount of business expenditure incurred in Singapore relative to its income; 
    • Whether key business decisions are made in Singapore. 

Should the Bill pass as drafted, a greater emphasis is required on multinational companies to ensure that they establish themselves appropriately in Singapore, with an office, employees, and senior management. Demonstrating the significance of the Singaporean operations will be key to ensuring that concession tax regimes are accessible. 

It should be noted that the introduction of Section 10L is primarily an anti-avoidance measure and not a hindrance to the many businesses that choose to expand to or establish operations in Singapore.

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FAQ

Boon Tan   |   21 May 2017   |   4 min read

What are the tax consequences of arriving in Singapore and becoming tax resident?

Resident individuals are subject to tax on income accruing in or derived from Singapore or received in Singapore from outside of Singapore.
However, overseas income received in Singapore on or after 1 January 2004 is generally not taxable.

Taxpayers are assessed on a calendar year and tax is computed on a preceding year basis. Taxpayers must file a tax return by 15 April in the following year.

In addition, expatriate individuals can opt for the Not Ordinarily Resident scheme if he spends at least 90 days outside of Singapore for business reasons in respect of his Singapore employment and his total Singapore employment income is at least SGD160,000.

What is the minimum time I can remain in Singapore without being tax resident?

182 days.

Does Singapore tax its residents on a world wide or territorial basis?

Income tax is imposed on the basis of territoriality.

Is foreign income taxable in Singapore e.g. foreign rental income, foreign interest income and foreign dividend income?

All foreign income received by individuals in Singapore is exempt from tax where the tax authority is satisfied that the exemption will be beneficial to them, unless received through a partnership. Foreign dividends, branch profits and service fees received through a partnership may be exempt subject to conditions.

Does Singapore tax on a remittance basis?

No.

Does Singapore have a sales tax or VAT tax on purchases?

Singapore impose a Good and Services Tax of 7%.

Does Singapore have a capital gains tax that taxes me when I sell foreign assets?

There is no tax on capital gains. However, gains from the realization of capital assets can be included in ordinary business income and subjected to income tax if the sales were carried out in the course of a trade carried on by the taxpayer.

Does Singapore have an estate tax or death tax?

No.

What is the top tax rate in Singapore?

Individuals are tax at progressive rates and the top tax rate is 20% for income over SGD320,000.

Does the tax rate vary for different types of income and if so what are the rates?

Royalties received in connection with literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or from a local or branch of a foreign publisher are taxed at a concessionary rate of 10% of the gross amount.

What are the common tax deductions available in Singapore?

  • Self, Spouse and Child reliefs;
  • Life Insurance premiums and pension funds contributions

Does Singapore require joint tax returns to be filed for me and my spouse or are separate tax returns required?

Separate tax returns are required.

If I have a foreign company or foreign trust before I arrived in Singapore is the income of that company or trust taxable?

No.

Do children under 18 pay a higher rate of tax on certain types of income?

No.

Is there a gift tax in Singapore?

No.

What are the personal tax exemptions in Singapore e.g. a gift from an overseas relative or a foreign insurance payout?

None.

When I leave the country is a ‘termination payment’ taxed by Singapore before I leave?

Termination payments which are compensation attributable to the loss of employment such as redundancy are not taxable.

If I receive shares as part of my salary is this taxed in Singapore?

Yes. Share options granted by virtue of an employment are a taxable benefit and the gains accrue as income in the year in which the option is exercised. The taxable value is the open market value at the time of the exercise less the amount paid for the share option.

What are other tax consequences of leaving the country?

An individual who leaves Singapore permanently is deemed to have derived a gain from the unexercised or restricted stock option plan, unless his employer is granted approval to keep track of the options. If the subsequent actual gain is less than the taxable gain, the taxpayer can apply for a reassessment of his tax liability.

The employer of an expatriate is required to notify the tax authorities and withhold the salary for the purposes of tax clearance should the expatriate cease employment in Singapore, or leave Singapore for a period of more than 3 months.

Are there any tax consequences of me transferring money from Singapore to my say home country?

None.

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2015 Singapore Budget Brief

Boon Tan   |   11 Mar 2015   |   4 min read

Celebrating Singapore’s 50th year of independence, the 2015 budget was delivered by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance on 23 February 2015. Also known as the “Jubilee Budget”, much of the focus in the budget has been placed on the country’s ability to provide the required resources to Singaporeans for their future, for example, through promoting innovation and by providing tax incentives to encourage the businesses for their international efforts.

Below are some of the highlights:

Corporate Income Tax Rebate

The Corporate Income Tax Rate remains at 17% and the partial tax exemption of a company’s first $300,000 of normal chargeable income (CI) is also to stay in place. The Corporate Income Tax Rebate which allows companies to receive a 30% rebate on their tax payable to a cap of $30,000 will be extended for another two Year of Assessments (YAs) until 2017 YA. However, the maximum rebate will reduce to $20,000 in 2016 and 2017 YAs from current $30,000. Companies that have chargeable income less than $540,000 (ie. in YAs 2016 and 2017) will not be affected by the new measure.

Change in Top Marginal Tax Rate

The marginal tax rates for the highest income earners with chargeable income above $320,000 will increase from 20% to 22%. However, the government has also announced a personal income tax rebate of 50% capped at $1,000 per taxpayer, which is be granted to all tax resident individual taxpayers for YA 2015.

Double Tax Deduction for Internationalisation Scheme

Businesses may claim 200% tax deduction on qualifying expenditure incurred on qualifying market expansion and investment development activities. The scope of qualifying expenditure supported under the Double Tax Deduction (DTD) for Internationalisation scheme will be enhanced to include qualifying manpower expenses incurred for Singaporeans posted to new overseas entities.

The amount of qualifying manpower expenses to be allowed a DTD will be capped at $1m per approved entity per year for expenses incurred from 1 July 2015 to 31 March 2020.  Businesses will have to apply to International Enterprise (IE) Singapore to enjoy the concession on manpower expenses. Further details to be released by May 2015.

Introduction of International Growth Scheme (IGS)

This is a new scheme by the Government with the aim of providing greater and more targeted support for larger Singapore companies in their internationalisation efforts. Under the IGS, qualifying Singapore companies will enjoy a concessionary tax rate of 10% for a period not exceeding five years on their incremental income from qualifying activities such as headquarter functions and specific business lines. IE will release further details by May 2015.

Approved Royalties Incentive (ARI)

The ARI was introduced to encourage companies to access cutting-edge technology and know-how for substantive activities in Singapore. Under the scheme, tax exemption or a concessionary tax rate may be granted on approved royalties, technical assistance fees or contributions to R&D costs made to a non-resident for providing cutting-edge technology and know-how to a company for the purpose of its substantive activities in Singapore.  A review date of 31 December 2023 will be legislated for this scheme to ensure that the relevance of the scheme is periodically reviewed.

Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) Scheme & PIC Bonus

The Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme was enhanced in 2011 to grant a total of 400% tax deduction or allowance for the first for the first $400,000 of expenditure for qualifying expenses incurred from YA 2011 to YA 2018. The qualifying activities are (subject to conditions):

  • R&D activities
  • registration of intellectual property rights (IPR)
  • acquisition of IPR
  • investments in design done in Singapore
  • spending on equipment or software aimed at automating processes; and
  • costs of training employees so as to upgrade skills and capabilities

To encourage small businesses to undertake meaningful productivity investments, businesses that invest a minimum $5,000 per YA in qualifying activities under the PIC scheme are entitled to the cash bonus (PIC Bonus) equal to the PIC expenditure incurred up to an overall cap of $15,000 for all three YAs combined (YA 2013 – YA 2015). There has been a good take-up of the PIC scheme and the PIC Bonus will be allowed to expire after YA 2015 as it was intended as a transitional measure. However, businesses will continue to benefit from the PIC scheme extended until YA 2018.

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What Is A Trust?

John Marcarian   |   21 Jan 2014   |   9 min read

1. What Is A Trust?

In essence a trust is simply a relationship where one person (the trustee) is under an obligation and holds or uses assets (trust property) for the benefit of another person (a beneficiary) for some object or purpose.

Thus, any trust has four essential elements:

  • Trustee;
  • Trust Property;
  • Equitable Obligation;
  • Beneficiaries;

To restate the above in slightly more legalistic terms “a trust is a fiduciary relationship where one person, a trustee, holds an interest in property but has an equitable obligation to use or keep that property for the benefit of another person(s) (beneficiaries) for some committed object or purpose.

There are many types of trusts, however the common ones are:

  • Express Trusts;
  • Settled Trust;
  • Discretionary Trusts;
  • Unit Trust;
  • Will Trust;

Express Trusts

Are trusts created by the express and intentional declaration of the settlor. Trusts dealt with in practice usually evidence this declaration by way of a formal trust deed.

Settled Trust

One form of an express trust is a settled trust created by settlor (or director). The settlor will intentionally create a trust by gifting the initial trust property to be held on trust by a trustee under an equitable obligation.

The most common trusts we implement are a discretionary trust, unit trust and a will trust (or deceased estate).

Discretionary Trust

A common settled trust dealt with in practice is a discretionary trust. A discretionary trust, which may also be known as a family trust, allows the trustee (who is usually the head of the family) to exercise discretion on an annual basis as to which beneficiaries will receive a distribution and to what extent each beneficiary shall benefit.

Unit Trust

Unit trusts are commonly used when arms length parties wish to enter into a commercial undertaking together.

Each party’s entitlement to income and capital from the trust is proportionate to the units held.

Will Trust

A will trust or a deceased estate arises on the death of a person. Upon death, property of the deceased passes to his or her estate.

The fiduciary obligation to administer the estate and the assets therefore falls upon the executor or administrator who assumes the role of trustee in respect of the property of the deceased estate.

The beneficiaries of a deceased are those nominated in the Will of the deceased.

2. Why Choose A Trust?

  • Issues to be considered when choosing a trust are as follows; 
  • Control
  • Simplicity/complexity
  • Liability limitation
  • Costs – establishment and maintenance
  • Life span
  • Formalities/adherence to rules
  • Reporting and disclosure requirements
  • Acceptability to financiers
  • Admission of new investors
  • Selling out/winding up
  • Family disharmony/asset – sheltering
  • Retirement planning
  • Ease of future restructure
  • Should the concept of a trust satisfy your commercial objectives, the following taxation issues will need to be considered:
  • Taxation issues
  • Overall level of tax;
  • Acceptability by authorities;
  • Double taxation;
  • Restructuring tax consequences;
  • Employee on costs;
  • Tax payments/tax rate;
  • Flexibility of distributions;
  • Tax losses trapped;
  • Dividend streaming;
  • Type of business to be carried on;

3. How Do You Set Up A Trust?

If you have made the decision that a trust is an appropriate structure the next step is to establish a trust.

Approaching a Solicitor

Prior to approaching a solicitor you should not only have considered the commercial and taxation issues noted previously, but you should also have determined:

  • The purpose and activities of the trust;
  • Nominated beneficiaries and future beneficiaries;
  • Who is to be the trustee and settlor;

Review and Understanding

The solicitor will draft the trust deed in accordance with the client’s requirement and at this stage it is critical that a thorough review is done to ensure that the trust deed (or governing rules) reflects your commercial and legal requirements and allows flexibility for future contingencies.

If a solicitor who specialises in trust law is consulted you will often receive an information booklet setting a basic outline of a trust for administration purposes.

At this stage also it is critical that you read through the draft deed and that questions are addressed prior to creating the trust. In this regard the family or business solicitor (if he or she did not draft the deed) may be used to add his/her comments and to provide a different perspective and extra level of comfort to both the client and accountant.

4. Parties To A Trust

The Settlor

The Settlor is the person who brings the trust into being.

Typically the settlor is a family friend or business associate who will contribute initial capital to settle the trust.

For Australian tax purposes it is important that there is not any reimbursement by the trustee in respect of distributions made for children under 18 years old if a parent, who will usually act as trustee or a director of the trustee company of a family trust, settles or creates the trust.

It is also advisable that the advisers to the trust are not the Settlor, for the reason that many trust deeds contain clauses that the Settlor is excluded from any benefit or income under the trust.

The Trustee

A Trustee is the person who holds an interest in trust property for a committed trust object or purpose.
In a discretionary trust situation the trustee exercises control over trust property so the trustee can deal with it on behalf of beneficiaries.

The choice of a trustee is worth proper consideration for the reason that the trustee’s powers and duties are significant. In that regard the person who is appointed to the position must understand his/her role and responsibilities.

Trustees may be individuals but more commonly will be companies to limit liability.  In a family trust a parent or both parents will usually act as directors of a corporate trustee.

The Appointor or Protector

The Appointor or Protector is the person or persons who have the authority under the trust deed to appoint or remove the trustee of the trust. As such the appointor is often said be the controller of the trust.

Many trust deeds empower the appointer to remove the trustee and appoint a new trustee at any time in writing.

Unless specified in the trust deed or in the will of the Appointer, on the death of the Appointor, the legal personal representative of the deceased Appointer will become the Appointor.

Income Beneficiaries

These are beneficiaries who may at the discretion of the trustee receive entitlement to trust income. Most modern trust deeds are drafted very widely in this area to give the trustee very wide discretionary powers for the advantage of flexibility of distribution for taxation purposes. Common classes of beneficiaries are:

  • Family members, including children;
  • Unborn children of family members such as direct lineal descendants;
  • Eligible entities in which the abovementioned beneficiaries of the trust itself has an interest (such as a corporate beneficiary)

Capital beneficiaries

These are beneficiaries who are entitled to the corpus of the trust or the capital in the trust.
This entitlement does not usually arise until vesting day, or the day the trust is to be wound up, but entitlements to capital or corpus of the trust may occur earlier if permitted by the trust deed or agreed to by all beneficiaries.

Default Beneficiaries

A default beneficiary is simply the beneficiary to whom a distribution may default to in the absence of any other nominated beneficiary.
For example should an amended assessment be raised increasing assessable income that income will be distributed primarily in accordance with the relevant trustee’s distribution minute.

However in the absence of any guidance contained therein or in the event the resolution or minute cannot be located or was not made for the reason there was considered to be no income, the distribution may revert to the default beneficiary rather than be assessed in the hands of the trustee at the top marginal rate.

There are very few restrictions on who may be a beneficiary.  A beneficiary may be a resident or non-resident natural person (such as a company) or any legal entity.
Further, persons who have not yet been born or legal entities that have not yet come into existence may subsequently become beneficiaries.  However it is important to nominate who will be and who can become a beneficiary on drafting of the deed.

A trust, as stated above, is a fiduciary relationship.

The adding of unanticipated beneficiaries at a later stage may, in a worst case scenario, lead to a resettlement of a trust or the ceasing of the former relationship and creation of a new relationship, being the creation of a new trust.

Should there be considered to be cessation of one trust and the creation of a new trust, a myriad of unwelcome income tax, capital tax and stamp duty issues may arise.
Thus, upon reviewing the deed detailed consideration must be given to who and who might potentially become income, capital and/or default beneficiaries.

Contact us

Should you be interested in discussing further how a trust may suit your purposes please do not hesitate to contact us at our offices.

Download our eBook “Moving To The US

Disclaimer:
This document is intended as an information source only. The comments and references to legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this document to your fact scenario. Information in this publication does not take into account any person’s personal objectives, needs or financial situations. Accordingly, you should consider the appropriateness of any information, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs and seek professional advice before acting on it. CST Tax Advisors exclude all liability (including liability for negligence) in relation to your reliance in this publication.

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