SINGAPORE - It looks to be an uphill battle to convince Singaporeans to pay higher taxes to support social spending, with a recent poll showing that only one-third of Singaporeans support such a move.
But the good news from an Our Singapore Conversation survey of 4,000 respondents is that those of higher income are more willing to bear higher taxes to help the needy.
The respondents, randomly picked to form a demographically representative sample, were asked to choose between the two polarities of "keeping taxes low even if it limits support to the needy" and "higher taxes for greater support for the needy".
Overall, 42 per cent wanted to keep taxes low, while only 33 per cent said they supported higher taxes. The rest were neutral.
But support for higher taxes grew with the incomes of respondents. Among those making monthly incomes of $5,000 and above, over four in 10 supported higher taxes, outstripping the three in 10 that wanted to keep taxes low.
Celebrity photographer Dominic Khoo, 35, who is among the high-earners, is willing to pay more tax but adds: "My answer to higher taxes is yes, on condition that the assistance goes to those truly struggling to survive."
The questions were phrased to draw out respondents' attitude to personally paying higher taxes rather than to the country having a higher tax schedule. Besides income tax, the goods and services tax was also mentioned. Researchers said that this likely accounted for the reluctance among the lower-income.