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Tax system able to keep pace with disruptions

The challenges confronting the tax system in the face of disruptions are not new (Tax system needs to keep up with disruptions: Indranee; Aug 18).

In the 1990s, when e-commerce was coming into its own, there were similar challenges, and experts were scrambling to find solutions.

Should the trigger for goods and services tax (GST) be contingent upon the physical locations of the servers processing the transactions, for instance?

This and other urgent questions needed robust answers to ensure tax neutrality and an equitable playing field for e-commerce entities and brick-and-mortar businesses.

E-commerce has since grown from strength to strength, Y2K has come and gone and the tax system has shown that it was able to evolve and step up to the challenge.

We can, therefore, be confident of our tax system achieving the same in the face of disruptions in the digital economy.

The potentially more daunting challenge our tax system faces now is managing issues relating to cross-border data flows.

The economic value of cross-border data flows is massive, and represents opportunities which Singapore could rationalise and monetise, as an international centre for finance and big data.

With the means, resources and wherewithal at our disposal, we can be confident of achieving this and put Singapore in good stead in the brave new world of disruptions and the digital economy.

Woon Wee Min

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 27, 2017, with the headline 'Tax system able to keep pace with disruptions'. Print Edition | Subscribe