Public Consultation on Draft Goods and Services (GST) (Amendment) Bill 2019

Ministry of Finance

Ministry of Finance

Consultation Period: 05 Jul 2019 - 26 Jul 2019
Status: Closed
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Detailed Description

INTRODUCTION

1. The Ministry of Finance is seeking public feedback on the draft GST (Amendment) Bill 2019.

2. We invite you to comment on the proposed policy changes and the drafting of legislative amendments which will give effect to these policy changes. Your views on the drafting will help us improve the clarity of the legislative amendments.

SCOPE OF THE CONSULTATION

3. The draft GST (Amendment) Bill 2019 includes two proposed amendments relating to the planned introduction of GST on imported services from 1 January 2020. The Minister for Finance announced this introduction in Budget 2018, and it was passed in the GST (Amendment) Bill 2018. The introduction of GST on imported services will ensure that our GST system remains fair and resilient in a digital economy.

4. Amendment 1 refines the design parameters for GST on imported services. This proposed amendment seeks to clarify or improve GST administration for imported services, such as by clarifying the scope of Reverse Charge1 and allowing GST group registration for overseas businesses under the Overseas Vendor Registration ('OVR') regime2.

5. Amendment 2 introduces an offence for misrepresentation of information. Unlike the GST regime currently in place for local GST-registered suppliers, suppliers under the OVR regime operate overseas, and rely on declarations made by customers to determine if GST is applicable. Hence, the proposed amendment is required in order for the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore to enforce GST on imported services effectively if a customer were to provide false information, where such information may be used by the supplier to determine whether GST is chargeable.

6. In addition, the Bill provides for three other proposed changes to existing tax policies and administration, arising from our periodic review of Singapore's GST system. 

7. Amendment 3 updates the GST treatment for digital payment tokens3, based on the nature of the transactions. Under the proposed amendment, we will (i) exempt from GST the exchange of digital payment tokens for fiat currency or other digital payment tokens, as financial services, and (ii) not subject to GST the use of digital payment tokens as a means of payment for goods and services. 

8. Currently, the sale and transfer of digital payment tokens are regarded as supplies of services, and are subject to GST. The proposed amendment more accurately reflects the characteristics of digital payment tokens, and is an update of GST rules to ensure that they remain relevant in the digital economy. Our proposed treatment is similar to that of other jurisdictions such as Australia, the European Union, Japan and Switzerland, which have also updated their Value-Added Tax/GST rules for digital payment tokens in recent years.

9. Amendment 4 makes changes to the reporting of proceedings and decisions of tax cases by the High Court and Court of Appeal ("the Courts"). To align with the principle of open justice and in keeping with international trends in Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, tax proceedings in the Courts will no longer be heard in private by default. The redaction of taxpayers' names in published decisions of such judicial proceedings will also be discontinued. The proposed amendment will place tax proceedings in the Courts in the same position as other judicial proceedings where private hearings and confidentiality orders may still be granted at the discretion of the Courts. Similar amendments will be incorporated in the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2019.

10. Amendment 5 introduces definitions of "accountant" and "advocate and solicitor" for purposes of appeals to the GST Board of Review ("GSTBR"). With the proposed amendment, only a "public accountant" within the meaning of the Accountants Act; or an "advocate and solicitor" within the meaning of the Legal Profession Act, is allowed to represent a taxpayer before the GSTBR. This amendment safeguards the interests of taxpayers who lodge appeals to the GSTBR, by ensuring that the representatives handling their appeals meet certain professional qualifications. These definitions are consistent with those in the Income Tax Act, for the purposes of appeals heard before the Income Tax Board of Review.

11. The summary table provides a brief description of the tax changes and explains the amendments to the GST Act and related subsidiary legislation.

GUIDELINES

12. We would appreciate your participation to ensure that the consultation is productive. Respondents are requested to observe these guidelines:
  1. We will need you to identify yourself and the organisation you represent (if any) so that we may follow up with you to clarify your comments if needed. 
  2. Be clear and concise in your comments. 
  3. Focus your comments on how the legislative amendments can be better written to make them clearer and to make compliance easier.
  4. Use the prescribed template provided to organise your feedback.
  5. As far as possible, please explain your points with illustrations, examples, data or alternative formulations of the amendments.

13. This draft legislation is released only for the purpose of consultation and should therefore not be used for individual or business decisions as it does not represent the final legislation. All comments received during the consultation will be reviewed thoroughly and if accepted, will be incorporated in the Bill for introduction in Parliament.

PERIOD OF CONSULTATION

14. The draft GST (Amendment) Bill 2019 and the related draft subsidiary legislation are available for public consultation from 5 July to 26 July 2019. We regret that comments received after 26 July 2019 will not be considered, as they will not be in time for incorporation in the final Bill.

FEEDBACK CHANNEL

15. We encourage all interested parties to submit your comments, using the prescribed template, through: 

  1. email to pc_gstabill@mof.gov.sg (preferred mode) or 
  2. fax to 6337 4134; or
  3. post to: 

Ministry of Finance
100 High Street, #10-01
The Treasury
Singapore 179434
Attention: Tax Policy Directorate

SUMMARY OF RESPONSE

16. We will publish a summary of the main comments received on the Ministry of Finance's website, together with our responses, by September 2019. The identity of respondents will not be disclosed in the summary.  


DOCUMENTS TO DOWNLOAD

17. For reference, please refer below to download the relevant documents for this public consultation.


You may obtain a copy of the GST Act at https://sso.agc.gov.sg.

 

References:

GST on business-to-business ("B2B") imported services will apply by way of a Reverse Charge mechanism. Reverse Charge is a GST collection mechanism where the local business customer pays GST to the tax authority directly, on the services it imports. This is in contrast to the conventional GST mechanism domestically where the onus is on the supplier to collect GST from the customer, and pay it to the tax authority.

Under the OVR regime, overseas suppliers that make B2C digital services to customers in Singapore are required to register, charge and account for GST on such sales, notwithstanding that these suppliers do not have a physical presence in Singapore.

A digital payment token is a cryptographically-secured digital representation of value, that is used or intended to be used as a medium of exchange.