This article was written in collaboration with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore. All views expressed are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg. It was updated on 13 April 2021 to reflect the YA2021 information.
While the deadline for personal income tax submission in 2021 is 18 April, you can (and should) file your taxes earlier if you can. In fact, individuals can start to file their personal income tax via e-Filing from 1 March onwards.
Before getting started on your income tax filing, it’s important to understand which group you fall under, based on the classification from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).
Group 1: You receive a notification from IRAS saying you do not need to file your income tax return (No-Filing Service scheme)
For self-employed persons filing Form B, you may receive a different SMS containing the following text:
If you are not required by IRAS to file your income tax, you will receive a notice via letter or SMS informing you that you do not need to file income tax for the year. If you have additional income to declare other than your auto-included employment income, or wish to make any adjustments to your relief claims due to changes in your personal circumstances, you’ll need to file your income tax via myTax Portal and make the relevant changes.
Check out the IRAS website for more details on No-Filing Service. For selected self-employed persons under the Pre-filling of Income scheme, please refer to the No-Filing Service (NFS) for Self-Employed Persons (SEPs) under the Pre-filling of Income scheme for more information.
Otherwise, your Notice of Assessment (NOA) or tax bill (in digital or paper format) will be sent to you from late April onwards showing your income tax payable, if any.
Your tax bill is computed based on your auto-included income and previous year’s relief claims, which may be adjusted if you do not meet the eligibility criteria. You will need to check that your income details and relief claims are accurate in your tax bill. If you have any other income that is not shown in your tax bill or if your relief claims are incorrect, inform IRAS of any discrepancy through the “Object to Assessment” e-Service in myTax Portal.
Group 2: You receive a notification from IRAS informing you to file your income tax
This means you are required to file your income tax return, which you can do so via myTax Portal from 1 March to 18 April 2021.
If your employer participates in the Auto-Inclusion Scheme (AIS) for Employment Income, information regarding your salary will be pre-filled. However, you will still need to complete the remainder of the tax return form (additional income outside your employment, relief claims, etc.) and submit it.
Check if your employer is participating in the AIS here.
Group 3: You did not receive any form of notification from IRAS
If you didn’t receive any notification saying whether or not you need to file your income tax, this means you do not need to do so unless your
1) total personal income (including salaries and rental income) from 1 January to 31 December 2020 is more than $22,000, or
2) if your net business income for the business accounting year ended in 2020 is more than $6,000.
Starting from this year, selected taxpayers on the No-Filing Service will receive a Direct Notice of Assessment (D-NOA), meaning they will not receive a notification from IRAS during tax filing season but will instead receive their tax bill directly from May onwards. The D-NOA initiative will be extended to more taxpayers progressively over the next few years.
How To File Your Income Tax In 2021
There are three main components to personal income tax filing that you need to know about. The 1) income you earn; 2) deductions that you qualify for; and 3) reliefs you are eligible for.
# 1 Income that you earn
For this segment, it’s essential to know what type of income is taxable and what is not.
Types of taxable income include employment income, business income (including income from online activities), property income (e.g. rental).
Types of non-taxable income include interest income, dividend income, capital gains from properties, shares or financial instruments, annuity income.
Do note the listed items above are not an exhaustive list. You can find out more about what’s taxable and what’s not from the IRAS website. It’s important to understand this because you do not want to pay taxes on non-taxable income, or commit an offence by not paying taxes on taxable income.
# 2 Deductions that you qualify for
Deductions refer to any allowable expenses you incurred or approved donations you made during the year.
Types of deductions include deductions for employees if they incur expenses because of the nature of their work. For example, if they use their own money to pay for business expenses.
If you were working from home in 2020, you can claim expenses incurred for work purposes, such as electricity charges and telecommunication charges, that were not reimbursed by your employer. There are also deductions for rental expenses and donations to approved Institutions of a Public Character.
# 3 Reliefs that you qualify for
To encourage certain social and economic objectives, tax reliefs are offered to certain groups of taxpayers in Singapore.
Types of reliefs include course fees relief, CPF Cash Top Up Relief, CPF Relief, Earned Income Relief, Handicapped Brother/Sister Relief, Life Insurance Relief, NSman (Self) Relief, Parent/Handicapped Parent Relief, Supplementary Retirement Scheme Relief.
You can find the full list of reliefs on the IRAS website. It’s important to understand all the different types of reliefs because you want to make sure you do not miss out on any reliefs that you qualify for.
Make Your Declaration And Save A Copy Of The Acknowledgement
Once you declare that all the information you provided in the tax return form is correct, you’re done. You should see an Acknowledgement Page, which you can save or print for your own records. You may also retrieve a copy of the Acknowledgement Page from the “Notices/Letters” e-Service at myTax Portal.
If you would like to check if IRAS has received your tax returns, you can click on the Individuals tab again and then View Filing Status.
Wait For Your Tax Bill, And Pay Promptly!
Once you have filed your taxes for YA2021, you will receive your tax bill, from late April onwards.
As soon as you receive your tax bill, check it carefully. Do note that it is your responsibility to ensure that your NOA is accurate, even if you were not required to file income tax in the first place.
If you see any mistakes or discrepancies, please make your amendments within 30 days through the “Object to Assessment” e-Service in myTax Portal. This has happened to us before because silly mistakes (on our part) do happen and IRAS will revise the assessment accordingly.
Do pay your tax bill on time to avoid unnecessary fines. You can also apply for a 12-month interest-free GIRO deduction. If you experience difficulties in paying your taxes, you can arrange for a longer payment plan with GIRO.
On behalf of Singapore, we want to thank you for doing your part to contribute to nation-building!