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How To Avoid Double Tax in Singapore

27 Mar 2024  ·  Grof Writer
6 minutes Read

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How To Avoid Double Tax in Singapore
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Own a company in Singapore and are concerned about the possibility of double tax? No need to worry; we’ve got you covered! Singapore, a global financial centre, is famous for its favourable tax policies. However, if you’re a foreigner who has moved here to launch a business, you must consider essential factors to avoid double taxation. Understanding these intricacies is essential to ensure you pay only what is necessary. 


So, grab a pen and paper! By the end of this article, you’ll have all the knowledge necessary to navigate the complexities. More importantly, you’ll be able to evade double taxation as a company in Singapore. 


What is Double Taxation? 

Double taxation happens when two or more countries impose the same tax on the same taxable income. This poses a challenge because it means taxpayers are subject to taxes in both their home country and another nation. 

Understanding Double Tax in Singapore 

Double tax occurs when a company faces taxation on the same income in two different jurisdictions. In Singapore’s context, it specifically refers to a scenario where a company faces taxation on its income in both Singapore and another country where it conducts operations or earns income. 

To comprehend how to evade double taxation, it’s essential to grasp Singapore’s tax system and the concept of residency. Singapore adheres to a territorial tax system, implying that only income acquired from or within Singapore is liable to taxation. Thus, this is advantageous for companies operating in Singapore. It signifies that income generated outside of Singapore typically remains untaxed. 


What is a Double Tax Agreement (DTA) in Singapore? 

Singaporean businesses can take advantage of double taxation relief. This measure relieves or decreases the burden of paying taxes on the same income in multiple countries. Therefore, this relief is available through bilateral agreements between Singapore and other nations. 


Double Tax Agreement (DTA) Primary Purpose 

A DTA’s primary purpose is to prevent two countries from taxing the same income twice. It is a contract that comprehensively outlines both countries’ taxing authority and how to stop tax avoidance by sharing information. Most importantly of all, it aids taxpayers in claiming relief for taxes paid double overseas. 


Through this, Singaporean businesses can steer clear of the scenario where their income earned abroad is taxed twice. This provides significant advantages to companies engaged in overseas operations or cross-border transactions. By mitigating or eliminating tax obligations in one country, businesses can enhance their profit margins and maintain competitiveness in the global marketplace. 


An essential benefit of this lies in its promotion of international trade and investment by delivering certainty and clarity regarding tax responsibilities. Furthermore, it prevents situations where a company might face higher tax rates due to overlapping tax jurisdictions. 


As a matter of fact, Singapore has entered DTAs with more than 80 countries, including major trading partners like China, India, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Thus, these agreements establish precise regulations for determining how income should be taxed when it crosses borders between these nations. 


Effectively harnessing these DTAs allows Singaporean businesses to reduce their overall tax liabilities, ensuring they do not overpay for their international earnings. Therefore, this gives them a competitive edge compared to counterparts from jurisdictions lacking access to comparable double taxation relief mechanisms. 


Double taxation relief also stands as a pivotal pillar supporting the global expansion efforts of Singaporean businesses by minimising their international tax obligations. Moreover, Singapore’s extensive network of DTAs presents substantial opportunities for businesses engaged in international operations. 


Understanding Foreign Tax Credit 

Foreign income earned by your Singapore company can sometimes face double taxation – once in the foreign country and again when brought back to Singapore. There are two types of foreign tax credits your Singapore company might be eligible for to avoid this double taxation. 


1. Double Tax Relief (DTR) 

A DTR is a relief under an Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) to reduce double taxation in the form of a tax credit. It allows the Singapore tax resident to claim a credit for the amount of tax paid in the foreign jurisdiction against the Singapore tax that is payable on the same income. 

To obtain DTR, you must ensure that the foreign tax aligns with DTA provisions. Additionally, the credit is capped at the lower of the foreign tax paid and the Singapore tax that would have been owed on the same income. 


2. Unilateral Tax Credit (UTC) 

UTC is granted to all Singapore tax residents for foreign-sourced income received in Singapore from countries without DTAs with Singapore. 


Qualifying Conditions 

To claim foreign tax credit, your company must meet these conditions: 

  • Your company is a Singapore tax resident for the relevant basis year. 
  • The tax has been paid or is payable on the same income in the foreign country. 
  • The income is subject to taxation in Singapore. 


Companies in a Loss Position 

Businesses facing financial losses won’t receive foreign tax credits. 


Businesses with Permanent Establishments Overseas 

If a company has a permanent establishment (PE) overseas and earns income through it, that income is usually subject to taxation in the foreign jurisdiction. Furthermore, foreign tax credit is granted only when the income is also taxed in Singapore. 


Companies Earning Passive Income 

Passive income, such as interest or dividends earned outside Singapore, typically faces taxation in the foreign country upon receipt. However, when you remit this income to Singapore, it becomes subject to taxation here. As a result, Singapore offers a foreign tax credit when the income is taxed within its borders. 

Benefits of Double Tax Relief for Singaporean Businesses 

Double Tax Relief is crucial for Singaporean businesses that operate globally, offering several advantages that can greatly impact their financial well-being and competitiveness. 

1. Prevents Double Taxation: One of the key benefits of Double Tax Relief is its ability to stop businesses from being taxed twice on the same income in two different countries. This eases the financial burden and avoids unnecessary tax duplication. 


2. Boosts Cross-Border Trade and Investment: By reducing tax liabilities, Double Tax Relief encourages cross-border trade and investment. Businesses have more resources available for reinvestment or expanding into new markets, promoting economic growth. 


3. Enhances Clarity: Double Tax Relief provides clear guidelines on tax calculations and specifies which income is subject to taxation in each country. Therefore, this clarity eliminates confusion and helps companies plan their finances more effectively. 


4. Promotes International Cooperation: This relief mechanism fosters international cooperation through bilateral agreements between countries. Singapore has an extensive network of such agreements with over 80 countries, ensuring fair treatment and dispute resolution. 


Navigating Double Taxation Successfully 

Understanding double taxation is essential for businesses and individuals. It can be a significant financial challenge, even for expats and foreigners living in Singapore. To avoid unnecessary tax payments, it’s crucial to grasp how double taxation works and take steps to prevent it in your home country. 

Grof With Us 

If you’re looking to take your business to the next level or simply keep it running smoothly, Grof is here to help. We can handle your taxes and other administrative tasks so you can focus on what you do best – running your company. 


Reach out to us today to set up a free consultation. Let’s chat and dive into the specifics together!