It is tax time for Singapore's 2.25 million taxpayers and the clock is ticking away.
By now, taxpayers would have received a notification from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) for the individual income tax season which runs from March 1 to April 18.
To avoid late-filing penalties, paper returns have to be submitted by April 15. E-filers have until April 18.
Thanks to several enhancements by the taxman, what used to be a paper-shuffling endurance test for some is now a more efficient process - what with filing via smartphones and e-filing.
In addition, more than half of total taxpayers will enjoy the No-Filing Service (NFS) this year.
Despite the streamlining, individual taxpayers can still make mistakes. One area is the personal reliefs they can claim. The Sunday Times highlights some new features and tax-saving tips.
Highlights of tax season 2017
For taxpayers on the Giro payment scheme, their Giro instalment payment will be based on their actual tax payments instead of a provisional instalment plan, giving them greater certainty on their tax payments.
IRAS, on a pilot group of 50,000 e-filers.
BE 2FA READY AND FILE ON TIME
Starting this year, the SingPass two- factor authentication or 2FA - a two-step verification - is required for users to file tax returns or view tax bills (Notice of Assessment) online. It can take up to 10 working days to set up 2FA.
Iras reminds remaining taxpayers, including sole proprietors and partners, who have not registered or activated their SingPass 2FA to do so today, so that they can file their taxes on time and avoid late-filing penalties.
For 2FA inquiries, users can visit www.singpass.gov.sg/2FA.html or contact email@example.com
Overseas users can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
TAX FILING A NON-EVENT FOR MANY
For this year's tax season, 1.49 million taxpayers will benefit from the NFS. This means that tax filing will be a non-event for about two out of every three taxpayers.
Anyone who has been informed that he is eligible for NFS is not required to file a tax return. The Notice of Assessment (NOA) or tax bill will be sent to them between the end of next month and September.
The NOA is computed based on the taxpayer's auto-included income and previous year's relief claims subject to eligibility.
Even if you are selected to be on the NFS scheme, you should note that the responsibility to ensure that you remain eligible for personal relief claims rests with you.
This means that despite being on the NFS, you must submit a tax return if you have other sources of income besides the income set out in the form sent to Iras by your employer, or if you have changed employers during the year to one that is not on the Auto-Inclusion Scheme (AIS).
If your relief claims differ from last year's, you need to file a return as well.
There are two options for those on the NFS scheme.
•Taxpayers are to inform Iras within 30 days of the date of the NOA, if they have any income not shown in the NOA or the relief claims are incorrect.
•Taxpayers on the NFS may verify the details of their auto-included information and preview their NOA (PNOA) at myTax Portal using their SingPass or Iras PIN from March 1 to April 18 this year. If their PNOA is accurate, they may request an early finalisation of their tax bill. However, if the PNOA is inaccurate, instead of informing Iras at the time they get the NOA, they have the option of making the relevant changes by e-filing their tax return.
PRE-FILLED INCOME DATA
Some taxpayers tend to confuse the AIS of employment income with the NFS scheme.
Under the AIS, the employers only inform Iras how much their employees have earned. Iras then pre-fills the amount in their tax returns.
This pre-filling service has been expanded to cover individual commission earners, including real estate and insurance agents.
Employees and commission earners will still need to log in to mytax.iras.gov.sg to check the pre-filled information and relief details, claim any relevant expenses, and submit their tax returns, unless they have received a letter or SMS from the taxman informing them that they are on the NFS.
Several key features have been introduced to enhance our filing experience during this tax season.
FILE TAXES VIA IMPROVED MYTAX PORTAL
Taxpayers can now file their returns via the improved myTax Portal which offers a more intuitive experience for taxpayers.
Taxpayers can enjoy new features such as a quick overview of their tax filing status and summary of tax accounts, as well as shortcuts to popular e-services.
GETTING YOUR TAX BILL UPON FILING TAX
A pilot group of 50,000 e-filers (with chargeable income of less than or equal to $40,000) will receive their finalised tax bill (NOA) immediately upon filing their tax returns this year.
Iras said: "Under this pilot, e-filers can enjoy greater certainty and know their tax payable for the Year of Assessment (YA) immediately. For taxpayers on the Giro payment scheme, their Giro instalment payment will be based on their actual tax payments instead of a provisional instalment plan, giving them greater certainty on their tax payments."
Iras aims to scale up this service initiative progressively.
This is an extension of its initiative last year for 1.45 million taxpayers who were not required to file, where taxpayers could preview their tax bills and request early assessments if they had no changes to their pre-filled income and relief claims.
LOWER TAXES WITH PERSONAL INCOME TAX REBATE
For YA 2017, all tax residents will receive a personal income tax rebate of 20 per cent of tax payable, up to a cap of $500.
Tax residents do not need to apply for this rebate. Iras will compute and grant the rebate automatically to all tax residents.
PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES
The new personal income tax rate structure for individual taxpayers will take effect from YA 2017.
The highest personal income tax rate is now 22 per cent (20 per cent previously) for tax residents with annual chargeable income in excess of $320,000.