In a groundbreaking milestone for Singapore, the Forum on Tax Administration (FTA) Plenary will be hosted from October 11th to October 13th, 2023. The FTA, recognized as one of the largest gatherings of its kind, assembles tax commissioners, officials, and experts from more than 50 jurisdictions worldwide. Centered on the overarching theme of “Partnerships,” the 16th FTA Plenary in Singapore will delve into tax administrations’ collaborative endeavors with various stakeholders, including citizens, businesses, digital platforms, and solution providers. The primary objectives are to enhance the overall taxpayer experience and optimize the operational efficiency of tax authorities. In his keynote address, the Guest of Honor, Acting Minister for Transport and Senior Minister of State for Finance, Mr. Chee Hong Tat, emphasized how InvoiceNow would bolster productivity and simplify GST compliance for registered businesses.
Promoting International Tax Administration Excellence
Founded in 2002, the Forum on Tax Administration (FTA) serves as a unifying force for over 50 global tax administrations. Commissioners utilize this platform for the exchange of knowledge, research collaboration, and the generation of innovative strategies aimed at advancing tax administration efficiency, simplifying tax compliance, and enhancing tax predictability for taxpayers. Convened on an annual basis, the FTA Plenary stands as the most extensive assembly of tax administrations dedicated to supporting the international tax policy agenda, spearheading thought leadership initiatives, sharing best practices, and collaboratively developing tools and solutions to fortify tax administration.
16th FTA Plenary Meeting – Fostering Collaboration and Partnerships
The conference, under the theme “Partnerships,” includes Plenary sessions featuring a presentation on Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative by Chan Cheow Hoe, the Government Chief Digital Technology Officer of the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office. It also encompasses valuable perspectives from both local and international experts regarding the progression of tax administration through digitalization. In alignment with Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, IRAS has joined forces with various stakeholders to create a range of digital solutions, aimed at enhancing the ease and convenience of the taxpayer experience.
Harnessing InvoiceNow for Enhanced Tax Administration
A prime illustration of this effort is InvoiceNow. Since 2019, Singapore has adopted the international PEPPOL standard for its electronic invoicing system, known as InvoiceNow. This innovative platform enables the seamless transmission of e-invoices from one financial system to another, bypassing manual intervention. The result is an expedited invoice processing cycle, leading to swifter digital payments. This transformative system significantly reduces the time businesses expend on invoice creation, verification, and the pursuit of outstanding payments.
Beyond domestic transactions, InvoiceNow also facilitates cross-border exchanges with companies in jurisdictions linked to the PEPPOL network, encompassing Australia, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. In Singapore, more than 55,000 businesses and 200 solution providers and access point providers are presently integrated into the InvoiceNow network. In the FY2023 Ministry of Finance Committee of Supply Debate, SMS Chee announced the government’s intention to designate InvoiceNow as the default e-invoice submission channel for all government vendors in the coming years. This strategic move will further solidify its practicality and amplify its network benefits.
IRAS has collaborated with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and select GST-registered enterprises to pilot the utilization of InvoiceNow data in tax administration. The pilot initiative has yielded favorable outcomes. In addition to efficiency gains from digitalizing invoicing, businesses stand to profit from simplified GST compliance, potentially fewer audits, and expedited GST refunds. In a manner akin to Singapore, numerous other jurisdictions are cultivating national networks designed to facilitate structured digital invoice transmission. This recognition of e-invoicing’s potential in countering tax fraud and evasion, while simultaneously delivering productivity enhancements for businesses, is a global trend. IRAS is, therefore, committed to collaborating with IMDA, the Accountant-General’s Department, and businesses to promote the broader adoption of InvoiceNow for GST administration.
In the forthcoming months, IRAS will provide additional updates on this promising initiative.
Collaborative Endeavors for a Seamless Taxation Experience
IRAS has embarked on partnerships with the Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB), Ministry of Manpower (MOM), and GovTech to facilitate the effortless submission of data by businesses to various government agencies. The One-Stop Payroll pilot initiative empowers businesses to efficiently transmit employers’ employment and wage-related information to multiple agencies through their payroll software. This encompasses the annual submission of salary data to IRAS, the monthly submission of CPF contributions to CPFB, as well as responses to the Occupational Employment Dataset and labor market surveys administered by MOM.
Furthermore, IRAS has also collaborated with self-employed individuals, industry associations, and platform operators through the Fixed Expense Deduction Ratio (FEDR) initiative, designed to streamline the tax filing process for self-employed professionals. Eligible private hire car/taxi drivers, commission agents, and soon, delivery workers, can opt to deduct a predetermined expense amount based on a prescribed percentage of their gross income, thus eliminating the need to calculate individual expenses. Alternatively, they retain the option to continue claiming their actual deductible expenses. This initiative has garnered positive feedback, boasting an adoption rate exceeding 85%.
Singapore’s Vital Role in Shaping Global Taxation Dialogue
“Singapore has been playing an active role in the FTA and became a member of its Bureau, the steering body of the FTA, in 2019. Partnering with our international counterparts, Singapore contributes constructively to improvements in tax administration globally. This helps taxpayers around the world to enjoy greater seamlessness and convenience both domestically and in cross-border tax matters.” affirms Mr. Ng Wai Choong, Commissioner of IRAS.
“On behalf of the FTA, I thank Commissioner Ng and IRAS for hosting this important meeting of tax administrations, international organisations, business representatives and academics, which provided us the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences and commit to new work that will continue to strengthen international tax administration.” expresses Bob Hamilton, Chair of the FTA.
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