The Singaporean Ministry of Finance on August 5, 2013, launched a public consultation on the draft Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill 2013.
The consultation discusses legislative amendments to:
Enhance the tax authority's ability to tackle fraud under the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS). The Comptroller of GST and authorized persons will be permitted to seize goods and arrest persons where TRS fraud is suspected;
Clarify the Goods and Services Tax (GST) obligations of newly appointed local agents. Where there is a change of local agent between the time of an import and the supply of goods, the new agent will be responsible for the taxpayer's GST obligations;
Clarify rules with regards to the disclosure of taxpayer information and confidentiality obligations. Under the proposals, the circumstances under which the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) will be allowed to disclose information will be expanded to include:
Disclosure of anonymized information to Government and Statutory Boards for statistical or research purposes;
Disclosure of information relating to professional misconduct to the relevant professional body and authority for their investigation of the said misconduct.
Provide for repayment of GST from the purchaser under the Approved Refiner and Consolidator Scheme. If a person has been allowed under the scheme to purchase goods without GST, but was subsequently found to be ineligible for such a benefit at the time of purchase, he will be required to repay the GST to the Comptroller; and
Clarify the definition of "refine" used in the Approved Refiner and Consolidator Scheme for refiners of precious metals. This is a technical change to clarify that "refine” includes casting precious metals into another form.
The draft GST (Amendment) Bill 2013 also provides for two additional changes aimed at achieving non-tax objectives. The first will allow IRAS to directly share information with the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and Singapore Police Force (SPF) to facilitate the domestic investigation of money laundering of proceeds of serious tax crimes. Since July 1, 2013, the money laundering of proceeds of serious tax crimes has been designated as a criminal offense. The proposed changes will enable CAD and SPF to obtain information from IRAS for investigating money laundering of proceeds of serious tax crimes, without having to go through a court process as is currently required.
Finally the definition of "public officer" will be expanded to include IRAS officers for the purpose of deducting tax arrears from Government payments. This is to make clear that IRAS may directly deduct any outstanding taxes of a taxpayer from the amount to be paid by the Government to that taxpayer under any law, contract or scheme.
Section 240A of the Tax Administration Act, 2011 (as amended) requires that all tax practitioners register with a recognized controlling body before 1 July 2013. It is a criminal offense to not register with both a recognized controlling body and SARS.