HDB flat owners to pay lower property taxes

Housing Board flat owners will pay lower property tax next year while almost all private residential property owners will have lower or no change to their bills.
Housing Board flat owners will pay lower property tax next year while almost all private residential property owners will have lower or no change to their bills.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Private home owners will see same or lower tax bills; statements will arrive in Dec and must be paid by Jan 31

Housing Board flat owners will pay lower property tax next year while almost all private residential property owners will have lower or no change to their bills, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) said yesterday.

Owner-occupiers of one- and two-room HDB flats will continue to be exempt from property taxes, while three-room flat owners will pay nothing or up to $18.40, compared with $0 to $37.60 this year.

For next year, four-room flat owners will pay between $52 and $100, down from this year's $71.20 to $119.20.

Five-room flat owners will pay $83.20 to $131.20 next year, down from $104.80 to $152.80.

Property tax for executive flats will range from $95.20 to $143.20 next year, which is also a lower rate than this year.

All property owners will receive their tax bills by the end of December, to be paid by Jan 31.

In a statement, Iras said that it reviews the annual values of properties - the estimated rent of a unit over a year - every year to reflect prevailing market rentals.

In 2014, a new tax structure kicked in which set a higher ex- emption threshold for owner-occupied homes.

This means that property owners who live in their homes will not have to pay property tax on the first $8,000 of the annual values.

Iras' numbers show that property tax has continued to decrease since then.

Owners who face financial difficulties should approach Iras on 1800-356-8300 to discuss a payment plan before end-January. Payment plans may include deferment of payment and scheduled instalments.

Those who fail to pay or have not arranged to do so by the due date will receive a 5 per cent penalty.

ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said that as property taxes are based on annual values, the drop in tax is due to the rental market being on a downtrend.

"But the rental market has not plunged, so we will not expect it to have a significant decrease," he said.

Instead, the market has been softening in the past two years. "It has to do with a lot of new projects being completed and, currently, because our shift is to be less reliant on foreign manpower, we have fewer new expatriates coming in and a fall in demand for renting," said Mr Lim.

Mr Leung Yew Kwong, KPMG Singapore principal tax consultant, said: "Normally, rents trend with the economy.

"If demand is low, it could be that the economy is down or slow."

Mr Nah Kok Gee, 34, an associate project manager who moved into a five-room flat in Sengkang last year, had mixed feelings about the dip: "Property tax is not something that we can save on but the more it drops, the better it is. The dip is probably more significant to middle- or lower-income families."

But he wondered if this "indirectly reflects the larger picture of a slowing economy" as well.

In the 12 months to March 31, Iras collected some $4.16 billion in property taxes.

Around $853 million came from private residences and $134 million from HDB flats. Non-residential property tax accounted for the rest.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2016, with the headline 'HDB flat owners to pay lower property taxes'. Print Edition | Subscribe