Here’s a Simplified Guide you need to know about Income Tax in Singapore and Legally Reduce Your Tax Bills [ft IRAS]

Tax Season Insider Tips from IRAS on Reliefs, Rebates and Deductions

It’s tax season again, and Singaporeans are faced with the annual task of filing their income tax returns. To help demystify the process, we invited Chin Sau Hing (Deputy Director, Individual Income Tax Division, IRAS) for an insider look at personal tax obligations.

Chin Sau Hing is part of the IRAS team that handles public inquiries related to personal income tax. As she explains, IRAS plays a key role in tax administration – assessing individuals’ tax liabilities and providing guidance to ensure taxpayers meet their obligations correctly.

Common Queries During Tax Filing Season

According to Sau Hing, some of the top questions IRAS receives during the March to April filing period include:

• Do I need to file a tax return this year?
• My employer has already provided my income details. Do I still need to file?
• What are the legal ways I can reduce my taxable income?

Sau Hing clarified that there are two broad categories taxpayers may fall under:

  1. Those required to e-File their tax returns, even if income details were transmitted by their employer. This group must log into myTax Portal to declare income and claim eligible reliefs/rebates.
  2. Those under the No-Filing Service (NFS) scheme with income details pre-filled by IRAS. Unless changes are required, this group generally does not need to take action.

“For taxpayers under NFS, they can just log in to verify their income details. If everything is correct, they don’t need to do anything further. We will send them the tax bill after April 18,” explained Sau Hing.

Tax Reliefs Vary by Life Stage

One key aspect is understanding the various tax reliefs or deductions available based on an individual’s life stage and personal circumstances. Sau Hing outlined some common reliefs:

For Working Single Adults:

• Earned Income Relief of up to $8,000 (varies by age and income level)
• CPF Relief on mandatory employee CPF contributions
• Self-Employed CPF Relief if contributing to own CPF accounts

For Married Couples with Children:

• Qualifying Child Relief of $4,000 per child (transferable between spouses)
• Working Mother’s Child Relief – From YA2025, this is a fixed $12,000 per child, replacing the current income percentage model. It cannot be transferred.
• Parenthood Tax Rebate of $20,000 – A one-time rebate claimable in the child’s birth year. Unutilised amounts can be carried forward.
“• For married couples with kids, there are quite a few family-friendly measures in addition to the child reliefs
• Working mothers can also claim the Grandparent Caregiver Relief of $3,000 if their parents or parents-in-law help care for the grandchildren.

Other Niche Reliefs:

• Cost of Renewing Professional Qualifications Relief (Lapsing from YA 2026)
• Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) Relief – Capped at $15,300 for Singapore Citizens/PRs
• Course Fee Relief (For those upgrading skills through courses/seminars)
• Foreign Domestic Worker Levy Relief for married women (Lapsing from YA 2025)
Sau Hing emphasised that reliefs and deductions are intended as targeted forms of support aligned with broader government policies, which are subject to review over time.

Annual Relief Cap of $80,000

It’s important to note the $80,000 annual cap on total amount of reliefs claimable each year. Deductions for items like donations to approved charitable causes are considered separately.

“The $80,000 limit applies only to tax reliefs claimed. Deductions for donations and certain other items are treated differently and not bound by this cap,” Sau Hing clarified.

Tips for a Smoother Filing Experience:

• Plan in advance and understand your household’s latest circumstances affecting tax reliefs eligibility.
• Review all notification letters/ SMSes from IRAS carefully for filing instructions.
• Log into myTax Portal early to verify income details and make claims if required.

For major life events like birth of a child, be aware of one-off reliefs/rebates that can reduce tax payable significantly.
While taxes are never exciting, a little knowledge can go a long way towards optimizing one’s tax obligations. With IRAS’ assistance and resources available, the annual filing process need not be daunting for the average Singaporean.

You can check their full interview on Chills with TFC, Episode 164 on Spotify, YouTube, Google podcast, Apple podcast for an insightful and comprehensive discussion on Tax filing and ways remote workers could claim utilities as part of their returns.

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