Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS): Are You Eligible To Receive $1,000 A Month For 9 Months?

This article was first published on 28 March 2020 and has been updated to reflect more details about the application process.

In the Resilience Budget, it was announced that self-employed people will receive more support in terms of cash payouts. Through the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS), those who are self-employed will receive $1,000 per month, for a total of nine months.

The last of the quarterly payout of $3,000 will be paid in October 2020. 190,000 individuals have received these payouts.

While the economy gradually improves, there will be uneven recovery faced by individuals from different walks of life. As such, Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo reiterated that the government will study the possibility for extending the SIRS scheme to continue aiding vulnerable self-employed persons. This was in response to parliament question of whether SIRS will be extended in light of the poor economic outlook, and similar to the extension for COVID-19 Support Grant.

Read Also: Resilience Budget For COVID-19: 8 Important Ways The Government Is Helping Singapore Businesses And Her People During This Pandemic

How To Apply For The Self-Employed Persons Income Relief Scheme?

Of the 190,000 individuals who have received the first two SIRS payments, 100,000 qualified automatically and another 90,000 qualified through applications.

Applications and appeals will be administered by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC). To apply, head to their website here. With the eligibility checker on the website, see if you fulfil all of the criteria (except for the married section). If you do, it is likely that you qualify for the scheme.

If you marginally miss only one criteria and are facing difficult circumstances, you can still try submitting your application.   

Applications only open on 27th April. Meanwhile, you can prepare the documents necessary for the application. You will need IRAS Notice of Assessment 2020, which refers to the income you have earned from 1 Jan to 31 Jan 2019. For those who have not done so, the filing deadline has been extended to 31 May 2020.

You will also need a Singpass account. Authorise MyInfo such that your income and CPF data can be automatically pulled for your application. To authorise MyInfo, head here and login with your Singpass. Once you’ve logged in, click on ‘Income & CPF’ and then on the agree button.

If you are married, you will need your spouse’s IRAS Notice of Assessment 2020, and any income documents for January to March 2020. 

Lastly, if you have any supporting documents to show further financial hardship, such as medical treatments for your dependents, it will improve chances of your application getting approved. 

Who Is Eligible For Self-Employed Person (SEP) Income Relief Scheme (SIRS)?

To receive the cash payout, self-employed persons must meet all of the following:

  • Started work as an SEP on or before 25 March 2020
  • Earn a Net Trade Income of no more than $100,000
  • Do not earn an income of more than $2,300 as an employee
  • Live in a property with an annual value of up to $21,000
  • Do not own two or more properties

For married Singaporean self-employed persons, the following criteria apply too:

  • The individual and spouse together do not own two or more properties
  • The Assessable Income of his/her spouse does not exceed $70,000

According to IRAS, here are some examples of self-employed persons:

  • Baby-sitter
  • Commission agent (e.g. insurance agent, real estate agent)
  • Direct seller
  • Freelancer (e.g. you receive fees for providing services as a delivery rider, consultant, book keeper, graphic designer)
  • Hawker (you are the owner of a hawker business or a food stall)
  • Owner of a business that buys and sells goods and/ or services
  • Owner of an online business (i.e. you buy and sell goods or provide services through the Internet)
  • Owner of your own practice (e.g. accountant, architect, doctor, lawyer)
  • Taxi driver / Private-hire car driver
  • Private tuition teacher (you look for your own students by yourself or through agencies and do not receive a salary from a tuition centre)

Read Also: How Freelancers And Self-Employed Persons Can Protect Themselves In Trade Disputes

Taxi drivers, insurance agents and real estate agents are examples of those who would definitely qualify as self-employed persons. This is because such roles are licensed and are governed by an agency. For instance, a hawker must first obtain a license from NEA. If you meet the rest of the criteria, it is likely that you will receive the cash payout of $9,000. 

Self-employed persons also include sole-proprietors or partners in a partnership. 

However, there are certain scenarios where the partner can be engaged under an employment contract with the partnership. In such cases, the partners are considered employees, despite having the title of a ‘partner’. They do not assume liabilities, nor do they have a share in profit or loss of the partnership. If this applies to you, it means it’s likely that you’ll not qualify for the income relief scheme.

Started work as an SEP on or before 25 March 2020

To qualify for income relief scheme, you would have to apply as a self-employed person before March 25. This means that you have gone to CPF’s website and registered as one. So those who are legally registered as self-employed and filed their taxes last year are more likely to receive the payment.  If you have not declared, it is unlikely that you will receive any income relief. 

For roles where you already are a licence-holder, e.g. taxi driver, hawker, insurance agent, you are automatically registered under CPF and would have already been informed so in writing.

If you register as a self-employed person after March 25, you will not be eligible. 

For those who started working as a self-employed person between 1 January to 25 March this year, you need to submit proof as a full time SEP in this period. Examples of proof include contracts for service, tax invoice billed to service buyers or receipts issued for services provided in this period.

If SEP Also Has Employment, Income Earned As An Employee Should Not Exceed $2,300/Month

Previously, self-employed persons who earned income as an employee were unable to qualify for the scheme. The income relief scheme was broadened to include those self-employed persons also drawing income as an employee, but it must not exceed $2,300 per month.

Earn a Net Trade Income of up to $100,000

According to CPF, net trade income refers to your gross trade income, after deducting allowable business expenses, capital allowances and trade losses. To understand the type of tax deductions you can claim as a self-employed person, visit the IRAS website for more.

If your net trade income exceeds $100,000 for 2019, you are recommended to submit income documents for the period of January to March 2020 as well.

Live in a property with an annual value of up to $21,000

The annual value of property threshold was initially at $13,000, but it was further raised to up to $21,000. This enhancement will benefit those who live in condominiums outside prime areas and other private properties.

The annual value of your property is the estimated yearly rental that can be fetched if it was rented out. This value remains the same, regardless of whether the property is occupied, vacant or rented out.

You can check the annual value of your property by logging into IRAS’ MyTax Portal, under “View Property Portfolio”. 

IRAS determines the annual value of properties based on estimated market rentals of similar properties. Based on data published by IRAS, these are estimated annual values of different property types in 2018.

Type of Property Median Annual Value (S$)
1 or 2 Room5,100
3 Room7,860
4 Room9,600
5 Room10,380
Executive & Other10,680

Median Annual Value By Property Type in 2018 (Source)

When Will The Cash Payouts Be Issued?

If you are eligible, you will receive it on a quarterly basis. $3,000 will be distributed in May, July and October this year.

As the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Ministry of Finance (MOF) have announced in previous parliament sittings, this payout may be extended.

Who Will Automatically Benefit From The Self-Employed Income Relief Scheme (SIRS)? 

MOM stated that about 190 self-employed people qualified for the income relief scheme.

These are self-employed people who:

  • Are aged 37 and over in 2020 
  • Declared positive SEP income to IRAS/CPF (or the Workfare Income Supplement scheme)

If you belong to this group of people, you need not apply for the scheme. You will be automatically notified via letter and SMS. The first payout will be issued in May via direct bank crediting or cheques.

Read Also: 4 Key Things You Need To Know About The COVID-19 Temporary Bill

With this eligibility checker, we can now clearly assess if we qualify for the scheme.

The eligibility checker on NTUC  helped clarify the conditions for this scheme, allowing us to assess if we do qualify. 

Taking reference from what happened with the Temporary Relief Fund, one can expect that the Government will clamp down on those who make fraudulent claims. In this instance, more than 500 people have returned their payouts with the reason that they submitted incorrect information in their application. Thus, apply only if you meet all the necessary criteria, and submit the right documents needed.

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