More power for tax officers

SINGAPORE - It will now be easier to administer the goods and services tax, and for government agencies to share information to combat serious tax crimes.

Under amendments to the goods and services tax (GST) Bill - passed on Monday - the Comptroller of GST can seize goods and arrest those suspected of making fraudulent claims under the Tourist Refund Scheme.

"The enforcement powers of the comptroller are being strengthened to enable him to carry out more thorough investigations, and effectively prosecute persons who have made fraudulent claims," Senior Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo told Parliament.

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) can now also share information with the Commercial Affairs Department and the police, to investigate money laundering from the proceeds of serious tax crimes.

The tax authority has also been given powers to disclose anonymous information to the Government for statistical or research purposes as well.

Regulations to specify who should repay GST, when there is non-compliance with the conditions of a GST scheme, have also been added.

One of the seven amendments to the GST Bill also grants Iras the power to deduct tax arrears from government payments to taxpayers, such as those to businesses under the Wage Credit Scheme.

Mrs Teo said that the Government incorporated feedback from a public consultation exercise in August on the draft Bill.

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