A tax deduction scheme for donations to charities will be extended for three years, until December 2021, to foster the spirit of giving.
For every $1 donated to a charity that is an Institution of a Public Character (IPC), donors get $2.50 deducted off their taxable income. This 250 per cent tax deduction has been in place since 2009.
This is one of the measures to promote volunteerism and philanthropy announced by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday.
The Government is also giving $3 to the Community Development Councils (CDCs) for every $1 they raise in donations, up to a cap of $40 million a year from the 2018 financial year starting in April. The current cap is $24 million a year.
With the higher cap, Ms Low Yen Ling, chairman of the Mayors' Committee, said the five CDCs will introduce new initiatives and scale up their programmes to benefit more people. More details will be given later.
In another move, the Government will match, dollar for dollar, donations to the new Empowering for Life Fund set up under the President's Challenge 2018. The fund supports programmes to help vulnerable Singaporeans upgrade their skills to find jobs.
To boost corporate giving, the Business and IPC Partnership Scheme (BIPS), which started in 2016, will be extended for three years until 2021. Firms get a 250 per cent tax deduction on wages and associated expenses when they send their employees to be seconded at or to volunteer at an IPC, or when they provide services to the charity.
AT A GLANCE
• Singaporeans aged 21 and older this year will get an SG Bonus of $100, $200 or $300, depending on their income.
• The Community Silver Trust, which matches donations to charities providing long-term care services to seniors, will get a $300 million boost. It will also match donations raised for active-ageing programmes.
•People who give to Institutions of Public Character, including charities, will continue to get a 250 per cent tax deduction for their donations for another three years, until end-2021.
• Businesses that support the volunteer efforts of their workers, or which provide services such as accounting to Institutions of Public Character, will continue to receive a 250 per cent tax deduction on the costs they incur in doing so. The extension is until end-2021.
The Community Chest's Share As One scheme will also be extended by three years.
The Government will match, dollar for dollar, any donations to Share that are above the total sum donated to Share in the 2015 financial year, which has been set as the baseline.
In all, the Government has set aside about $190 million a year to support these enhanced measures.
These initiatives come as more people volunteer or give to charity, said Mr Heng. According to the latest Commissioner of Charities Annual report 2016, donations have increased from about $2 billion in 2011 to $2.7 billion in 2015.
The heads of charities interviewed by The Straits Times welcomed the extension of the IPC donation scheme, noting that the generous tax deduction is a draw for some of their donors, especially the wealthier ones.
As for the extension of the BIPS scheme, Mr Alfred Tan, chief executive of the Singapore Children's Society, hopes this will spur more firms to send their staff, such as those working in fields related to innovation and technology, to volunteer at charities.
He said: "The sharing of expertise is very valuable to help charities innovate and progress."
Meanwhile, the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre's online portal, Giving.sg, will be improved to better match donors and volunteers with charities.
Mr Heng said people who give back to the community are at the core of a caring society.
He mentioned housewife Patma Gopal, 56, who volunteers as a befriender with Fei Yue Community Services. Madam Patma said: "Since my childhood, I have always wanted to help others. I feel good that I can help in some way."