GST refunds: Retailers have to check buyers' eligibility

Mr Sethuraman Venkatasubramanian asked about the correct procedure for retailers to process tourist refunds for goods and services tax ("Query on GST refund for tourists"; last Wednesday).

Tourists can obtain GST refunds on goods they have purchased and are taking out of Singapore under the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS).

Retailers must verify that the purchasers are indeed tourists before issuing them with tourist refund claim tickets. This should be done by checking their identities against their passports.

The checks prevent an ineligible person from using another person's foreign passport to fraudulently obtain tourist refund claim tickets and claim GST refunds.

More information on TRS rules can be found in the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore's e-Tax guide, GST: Guide for Retailers participating in Tourist Refund Scheme, available on www.iras.gov.sg

In view of this, Mustafa Centre was correct in not processing the GST refund claim, since it could not establish the eligibility of the purchaser.

The Iras takes a serious view of retailers who flout TRS rules or abuse the scheme. We will not hesitate to terminate the TRS affiliation of retailers who are repeat offenders.

Members of the public aware of retailers who do not comply with TRS rules can e-mail us at gst@iras.gov.sg

We thank Mr Venkatasubramanian for his feedback.

Walter Lim

Director (Corporate Communications)

Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore


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