Letter of the week: Retirees should consider selling private property if unable to pay taxes

Private properties, however modest, are likely to fetch far higher valuations than HDB flats, says the author. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

There have been opinions expressed in public forums that advocate policies which would in effect subsidise the lifestyles of retirees who own private properties.

MP Chong Kee Hiong asked in Parliament if the Government could assist retirees who live in properties that will see higher taxes (MPs disagree over whether Singapore's new wealth taxes go far enough, Feb 28).

And Ms Ng Suan Eng said that retirees living in private properties will be burdened by goods and services tax (GST) and property tax increases (Retirees living in private properties largely left out in Budget 2022, Feb 22).

I am strongly against the application of any form of property tax rebates on private properties in land-scarce Singapore.

Living in these properties is a lifestyle choice given the availability of public housing, and it is a choice that should not be open to those who cannot afford the property taxes associated with it.

For the longest time, the philosophy of Singapore's Government has been that Singaporeans should strive to be self-reliant in retirement.

While I believe that suitable assistance should exist to protect our most vulnerable seniors from destitution, clearly some discretion should be exercised in handing out such assistance.

If Housing Board leaseholders are encouraged to sell off a portion of their lease to make ends meet in retirement, why should private property owners who happen to be retired be given differential treatment on property tax rates and have access to GST vouchers at a quantum designed to neutralise the effect of a consumption tax on the less well-off?

Private properties, however modest, are likely to fetch far higher valuations than HDB flats - unlocking this value should obviously be the first step to take if one is short on savings.

The lament that some private property owners are retired and living on their savings fails to consider how that is a privilege in a country where some people of retirement age have to continue working to make ends meet.

If these retirees find it hard to maintain their lifestyles with the savings they have, perhaps it is time to liquidate their properties and learn to live within their means.

Liu Ziyuan

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