Parliament: Changes to Income Tax Act passed; taxman has more powers to investigate tax crimes

Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore officers will soon have the power to enter premises by force or arrest someone without a warrant if the situation meets certain conditions.
Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore officers will soon have the power to enter premises by force or arrest someone without a warrant if the situation meets certain conditions.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The taxman will soon have more powers to investigate crimes thanks to changes to the Income Tax Act.

One revision will allow Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) officers to enter premises by force or arrest someone without a warrant if the situation meets certain conditions. These include a suspect trying to destroy evidence.

Other changes passed in Parliament on Tuesday (Oct 2) included allowing private-hire drivers to claim tax deductions on car-related expenses. Previously, this was only applicable to taxi drivers.

This means that 60 per cent of a private-hire driver's income can be considered expenses. For example, a driver who earns $50,000 a year in fares as well as $15,000 in incentives from a platform provider like Grab could have $39,000 - or 60 per cent - of that income deemed as expenses.

This means he will be taxed only on his net earnings of $26,000, before claims for personal income tax relief.

Alternatively, he could claim tax deductions on his actual expenses but this would require him to keep meticulous records.

Five MPs spoke on the Bill. While they supported the changes, Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) and Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC), were concerned about possible abuses of power.

Mr Lawrence Wong, speaking in his capacity as the Second Minister for Finance, told the House that alongside other safeguards, tax officers would undergo similar training programmes to those undertaken by the police.