The Lunar New Year is coming and this involves much festivities as the Chinese community celebrates this holiday season. During this period, many people would go shopping for festive goods such as food and beverages for their reunions and gatherings.
Many Singaporeans also take this opportunity to head over to Malaysia to buy their Chinese New Year goods as they can save more money. Strong currency, mah! However, if you are planning to do so, then take note that your shopping hauls could be subjected to Goods and Service Tax (GST) at 7% when you get back to Singapore.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Singaporeans who travel out of Singapore for less than 48 hours are subjected to GST for goods more than S$150 (approx. RM445) per person.
2. Singaporeans who are away for more than 48 hours get a higher tax relief and will only need to pay GST if their goods cost more than S$600 (approx. RM1,785) per person.
3. GST is only charged on the value of the goods that exceeds the GST relief. This means that if you buy S$800 (approx. RM2,380) worth of goods on a three-day trip to Hong Kong, you are only charged GST for the extra $S200 (approx. RM595) worth of goods. For example, 7% of $S200 (RM595) equals to S$14 (approx. RM41).
4. Gifts are also subject to GST, as long as it is a new item. Even if you don’t have a receipt, the value of the goods will be calculated by assessing the values of identical or similar goods.
5. Remember to keep the receipts for your purchases to enable the officers to calculate the amount of GST you need to pay. Taxes can be paid at the Singapore Customs’ Tax Payment Office or at the self-service Tax Payment Kiosk at the checkpoints.
This tax is actually not new and has been implemented ever since Singapore enforced GST in 1994. You may think that you can evade this tax by not declaring your items but this is actually an offence. If any Customs officer finds that you are hiding your items, offenders could be fined up to S$10,000 (approx. RM29,780) and get a maximum jail term of three years. They’re serious about this!
In fact, a 25-year-old woman has been previously arrested for trying to evade GST as she tried to walk past Customs with a load of branded items. She was stopped for trying to bring in S$11,000 (approx. RM32,760) worth of branded bags and accessories on a flight back from Paris, according to Singapore Customs Facebook page.
While it can be rather difficult for the Customs officers to check every single person who enters Singapore, this doesn’t mean that you would not be one of the “lucky” people who are randomly selected to get their bags checked. Better to declare and pay up!
For more information on Singapore’s customs rules, check out their website here.
Don’t evade your taxes!
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