Low-income Singaporeans may be able to receive almost five dollars in government benefits for every dollar paid in taxes over a life time, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said Monday.
However, they should be part of a four-member family living in a two-room Housing Board flat. Their combined income should also be $1,200, excluding employer contributions to the person's Central Provident Fund (CPF) account.
In reply to Aljunied GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Mr Pritam Singh's question on the assumptions, variables and projections underlying the Ministry of Finance's calculations of lifetime benefits and taxes for low- and middle-income households, Mr Tharman used these broad assumptions when asserting that low-income Singaporeans receive more in government transfers than they pay in taxes.
According to Mr Tharman, a low-income household can expect to receive $3.97 to $5.10 in benefits for every tax dollar paid.
Based on the illustration, the two-room low-income household can expect to receive up to $535,000 in real terms, through cash, subsidies, permanent transfers, CPF top-ups, housing grants and the like.
It is paid out through a range of transfers which include the Baby Bonus, ComCare aid for the needy, Workfare Income Supplement, housing grants, Medifund subsidies and education bursaries.
This is in contrast with the $113,000 in taxes, such as GST and water conservation tax, they can expect to pay over a lifetime based on today's prices, retirement age and life expectancy.
These benefits mirrored the amounts low-income households living in three-room flats would receive with and without nursing home subsidies or the Silver Housing Bonus of $20,000 for eligible elderly flat owners who downgrade to smaller flats.
Last month, Mr Tharman said at the conclusion of the Budget debate that government transfers to families in the bottom 20 per cent in the last five years had amounted to almost 20 per cent of the household income per household member.