Singapore's million-dollar club grows

SINGAPORE - More people made it to the millionaires club last year, with 4,220 taxpayers having assessable income of more than $1 million each.

Their combined income came to $8.06 billion, according to the annual report of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) released on Thursday. They forked out $1.49 billion in income tax.

In 2011, in comparison, there were 3,870 people in this group and they earned $7.45 billion. These could be Singaporeans, permanent residents or foreigners.

A further 12,921 people earned between $500,000 and $1 million each last year, up from 11,092 people in 2011.

Iras collected 7.6 per cent more cash in its latest financial year, as the economy grew moderately and the buoyant property market yielded more in stamp duty collection. Total taxes collected came to $41.4 billion for the 12 months to March 31, up from $38.4 billion in the year before, said

The money made up 74.1 per cent of all operating revenue for the Government. The remainder was collected by other agencies for other types of payments - such as certificates of entitlement and Electronic Road Pricing.

Iras' collections include corporate taxes, individual income taxes, goods and services tax (GST), stamp duties, property tax and betting taxes.

For the financial year, corporate income tax grew 5.8 per cent to $12.8 billion, owing to improved company profits. Individual income tax collection grew by 12.2 per cent to $7.7 billion, due to higher salaries and the cessation of one-off personal income tax rebates given earlier for income earned in 2011.

GST collection rose by 4 per cent to $9 billion, in line with the moderate growth in private consumption expenditure. Stamp duty collections jumped 35.7 per cent to $4.3 billion. The rise was due to the introduction of the additional buyer's stamp duty in December 2011 - intended to cool the property market - and more property transactions.

Property tax collection fell by 3.1 per cent to $3.8 billion, due to an earlier change in some policies that affected the timing of collection of the taxes. The changes had led to more collections in the previous financial year - April 2011 to March last year.

Taxes from betting activities dipped by 2.9 per cent to $2.3 billion. This included duties on Singapore Pools bets like 4D, Toto, Big Sweep and sports betting, and levies on the casino operations of the two integrated resorts.

Iras also highlighted its high level of tax compliance - essentially, that almost all parties pay their taxes on time. Tax arrears declined to a record low of 0.79 per cent, among the lowest in the world.

"Our ongoing efforts to promote a high level of voluntary compliance have resulted in more individuals and businesses filing their tax returns and paying taxes on time," said Dr Tan Kim Siew, Commissioner of Inland Revenue. "On-time filing rates have improved across all tax types."

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