New Bill to introduce GST on low-value imported goods by air or post

If adopted, the Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill will see the GST on such low-value goods introduced from Jan 1, 2023. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Proposed changes to the law to subject goods worth $400 or less imported by air or post to GST were tabled in Parliament on Monday (Oct 4).

If adopted, the Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill will see the GST on such low-value goods introduced from Jan 1, 2023. GST will also be imposed on business-to-consumer imported non-digital services such as live interaction with overseas providers of educational learning and telemedicine.

Currently, these imported goods and services are not subject to GST.

The Ministry of Finance (MOF), which introduced the Bill, said: "The extension of GST to such imported low-value goods and business-to-consumer imported non-digital services complements the existing GST measures on business-to-business imported services and business-to-consumer imported digital services that took effect from Jan 1 last year.

"Together, they ensure a level playing field for our local businesses to be competitive. Overseas suppliers of goods and services will be subject to the same GST treatment as local suppliers. This change also keeps our GST system resilient in a growing digital economy."

These changes were first announced in the 2021 Budget Statement on Feb 16 this year.

Besides GST on goods and services, the Bill also updates the GST treatment for media sales, which refer to the sale of advertising space for hard copy print and outdoor advertisements, advertising airtime for broadcasting by television and radio, and media space for Web advertising through e-mail, the Internet or mobile devices.

Under this amendment, GST treatment from Jan 1 next year will be based on where the customer and direct beneficiary of the service belongs, rather than where the advertisement is circulated.

This means that if the customer of the service belongs outside Singapore, and the direct beneficiary either belongs outside Singapore or is GST-registered in Singapore, the media sales will be zero-rated. Otherwise, GST will be chargeable at the standard rate.

Other amendments include updating the transitional rules so people have clarity on whether the old or new GST treatment applies, and making changes to the rules on overseas vendor registration, for instance, to provide tax certainty.

Meanwhile, MOF on Monday also tabled another Bill to consolidate current laws, to allow for borrowing by the Government for investment purposes.

"The consolidation of the existing legislation on Government borrowings for investment and market development into a single Act will clearly separate existing borrowings for non-spending purposes, from the new borrowings for the financing of major, long-term infrastructure under the recently introduced Significant Infrastructure Government Loan Act (Singa)," MOF said.

Singa will allow the Government to borrow to pay for infrastructure that will last for at least 50 years.

Under the new Bill, the Local Treasury Bills Act will be merged with the Government Securities Act to form a single borrowing limit of $1.065 trillion. These borrowing proceeds are not for spending, unlike Singa.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Monday also introduced two Bills, on retirement and re-employment, and the Central Provident Fund (CPF).

MOM previously announced that from next year, the retirement age will be raised from 62 to 63, and the re-employment age from 67 to 68.

This is part of a gradual increase that will ultimately set the retirement age at 65 and the re-employment age at 70 by 2030.

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