As an individual landlord, I just received a notice from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) detailing the amount of rental relief I am required to pass on to my tenant.
For an individual landlord to apply to an assessor to reduce the amount of relief payable, I have to meet a few conditions.
One is that rental income for year of assessment 2019 must be at least 75 per cent of total income. What is the reason for using YA2019? The economy started to nosedive only at the start of 2020.
Based on this criterion, I am not eligible to apply for reduction of rental relief payable to the tenant.
Another criterion is that the annual value of the commercial property must be less than $60,000. Most Housing Board shops have annual value more than this.
The Government was supposed to provide relief of up to two months for qualifying tenants. The property tax rebate and cash grant do not add up to that and now landlords are required to top up the difference. Why punish the landlords unfairly?
Also, it was stated in the notice from Iras that tenants who are eligible for cash grants are most likely to also qualify for the additional rental relief.
How did Iras come to such a conclusion? How would Iras be sure that these tenants' turnover for April and May 2020 will be at least 35 per cent less than in 2019?
Because of this presumption, tenants will be emboldened to demand the additional relief from the landlord.
I understand the pandemic has disrupted businesses and lives, and everyone has to make adjustments. I ask the Government not to place an unfair burden on landlords. Many of us are also trying to keep our heads above water.
The economy last year was good - I had self-employed income then. But this year, because of Covid-19, my self-employed income is zero.
In all, I will probably have to forgo at least three months of rental - who is going to pay my bills during this period then?
Ong Eng Cheng (Dr)