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Epica Guide Series

Singapore Goods & Services Tax(GST) Guide

Learn all about Singapore GST in this guide.

Watch the video or read below

Guide to Singapore GST (Part 1)

Almost 26 years back, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was implemented in Singapore. This act has been modeled on the lines of Value Added Tax (VAT) legislation of UK and GST legislation of New Zealand. IRAS (Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore) is designed to act as the agent of the Singapore government administers, assesses, collects, and enforces payment of GST. Introduction of GST is considered as a means to lower corporate and personal tax rates while keeping and maintaining a stable revenue base for the government. GST is an indirect tax because it taxes expenditure. Presently, the rate of GST is 7%. Between 2021 to 2025 (Exact date not confirmed) the GST rate will be raised to 9%.

The article is a complete guide that will provide a detailed insight to the critical concepts of GST in Singapore tax system, and how it relates to the Singapore Companies, definition of GST, advantages, and disadvantages of GST registration, registration requirements, filing GST returns, and schemes to aid businesses.

What is GST?

Goods and Services Tax (GST) in many other countries, also known as Value Added Tax (VAT) is a type of consumption tax that is imposed on the import of goods into Singapore and the supply of goods and services in Singapore. GST is applied as an indirect tax at the rate of 7% to the selling price of the products and services that are offered by the GST registered business entities in Singapore.

GST doesn’t incur any cost to the company because the GST tax is charged to the end consumer. In the case of GST, businesses are just like collecting agents for the Singapore tax Department.

If you make any purchases at a supermarket, mall, or at the restaurant, the receipt will usually state that 7% GST is collected. Businesses are required to keep this GST amount with them and remit it to the government on a quarterly basis.

What is GST for your Company in Singapore?

Goods & Services Tax

If you are a GST registered business in Singapore, you are required to collect the GST on the products, services, and goods that you provide and pay it to the Singapore tax authorities. For instance, if you are selling a product of yours for S$100 to your customers, you are required to invoice your customer S$107, i.e., S$100 for the product and S$7 as GST. This invoiced GST is then paid to the Singapore Tax Authorities on a quarterly basis via GST tax filing. All companies incorporated in Singapore are not automatically registered for GST. Those companies which have met specific standards and conditions are required to apply for GST registration to IRAS, and only then are they allowed to charge the GST and collect it on behalf of the authorities.

Exemption for Small Companies

In order not to burdon small companies with GST accounting, the IRAS has given companies with less than 1,000,000 SGD annual revenue, an expemtion from GST registration. These companies are not required to register for GST nor they can charge and collect GST.

GST Registration

The registration for GST is segmented in two categories:

  • Compulsory Registration
  • Voluntary Registration

Compulsory Registration

Goods & Services Tax - Compulsory Registration

Registering for GST becomes compulsory when

  • the turnover of your business in the past 12 months is more than S$1 million– this is known as the retrospective basis OR
  • you are making the sale, and you expect your business to S$1 million for the next 12 months – this is known as the prospective basis. This also includes any contracts or agreements that you might sign and expect the revenue to exceed S$1 million in the next 12 months.

Whenever your business revenue exceeds S$1 million, you are required to register for GST within 30 days. Not doing so within the given time will result in penalties from Singapore tax authorities. There is also an anti-avoidance mechanism in place to ensure that businesses are not manipulating their revenue to keep it under S$1 million, thereby avoid registration.

Voluntary registration

Goods & Services Tax - Voluntary registration

Even if you are not liable to compulsorily register, you may also voluntarily register for GST, keeping in view the business operations of your company. Your company should have plans to make sales or should have already started making sales in Singapore (on taxable supplies). You should remember that there are additional conditions if you choose to register voluntarily for GST.

On voluntary registration, you are bound to remain registered for at least two years and comply with the GST regulations like maintain all your records for at least five years and filing the GST return on a quarterly basis even after you have deregistered from GST or ceased your business.

When do Companies Registere Voluntarily

If in your business scenario, you pay a lot of GST on input (Purchase) side and if you are not registered for GST then this input side GST will become your cost. If you are in the trading business then this cost can be significant. In this case, you can register for GST voluntarily to get the refund of input GST back.

How to get an exemption from GST Registration?

If your company makes only zero-rated supplies, you can apply for exemption of your company even in case your taxable turnover exceeds the limit of registration. This enables you to escape from GST registration and GST filing. IRAS will grant the permission if;

Goods & Services Tax - De-registration
  • More than 90% of your supplies are zero-rated
  • Your input tax is higher than output tax


You are allowed to cancel your registration when;

  • Your business ceases
  • Your business is sold to another person
  • Your sales figures do not exceed S$1 million.

For de-registration, you must submit the concerned application form within 30 days from the day of cessation to the tax authorities along with the relevant documents.

Offsetting input side GST

The tax that you company charges from the customers is called GST. Whereas, the tax you give your supplier is called input tax. So you can offset your GST, by paying to or claiming form the Singapore tax department the difference between the input tax and the GST of your sales.

For example, if in a period you have made taxable supplies worth 100,000 SGD and collected tax on it of 7000 SGD. At the same time, you have also incurred expenses and spend on purchases worth 60,000 SGD and has paid GST on the input side of worth 4200 SGD. Then, in this case, you will pay net 2800 SGD as GST to IRAS.

Goods & Services Tax - International Services

GST on International Services

If your services fall within the scope of Section 21(3) of the GST Act, your services are considered as international services. As per the GST act, international services are zero-rated, which means 0% GST is charged on these services. However, keeping in view the types of services, you may be required to know your customer’s belonging status (local or overseas) before your supply of services can be zero-rated.

It is important to note that all services provided to overseas customers are not zero-rated. International services that are covered under international services are, Advertising Services, Co-location Services (for computer server equipment), International Transport (for Goods and Passengers), Lease or Hire of Transport, Services Performed Completely Overseas, Services Related to Goods for Export and Goods Moving Outside Singapore, Services Related to Land/Buildings/Goods Located Overseas, Services Supplied to Overseas Person, Supplies Related to Ships or Aircraft, Services Related to Electronic System, Services Performed on Goods Stored in a Warehouse under the Specialised Warehouse Scheme, Supplies Related to Air and Sea Containers, Telecommunication Services and Trust Services.

If you perform any services to the overseas company, but the performance of the contract is in Singapore then such services are still GST taxable. For example, an overseas company may engage you to perform market research in Singapore.

GST on supplies out of Singapore

Goods & Services Tax - Supplies out of Singapore

If at the point of supply based upon the time of supply for exports, you are sure that the supplied goods will / have been exported and you have the required documents as well, you can charge GST at 0%. The type of exports, where you control the export process and also have the custody of the goods to be exported, are called direct exports, and these can be taken as zero-rated if the required documents are maintained within 60 days. On the other hand, if you do not have the custody of the goods to be exported nor the control of export arrangement, they are called indirect exports. These are considered as local supply and will be charged with GST.

SO technically, of you are arranging a logsitc service provider to take good out of Singapore for delivery then zero rated tax is allowed. But if you are selling goods to anather Singapore based company, which in turn is going to export the goods then charging 0% GST will not be allowed.

Supplies that are exempt from GST include:

Exempt supplies cannot be charged with GST. The input tax that is incurred on making exempt supplies is not claimable. Following is the list of services that are exempted of GST:

Goods & Services Tax - Exempt Supplies
  • Tokens for Digital payment (with effect from 1 Jan 2020)
  • Financial services;
  • IPM (Investment Precios Metal)
  • Residential Properties

Out-of-scope Supplies

Out of scope, supplies are those supplies which do not come under the scope of the GST act. Following are examples of out of scope supplies:

  • Private transactions
  • Transfer of business as a going concern
  • Sales made within Zero GST Warehouse
  • Sales of goods and services from a place outside Singapore to another location outside of Singapore. This is also called Third Country Sales.

GST Registration for Foreign Companies

If you are a foreign company, without any presence in Singapore, still you may be subjected to GST registration, if you bring in products or services into Singapore worth more than 1,000,000 SGD in a year. There is a separate procedure for this registration and quarterly reporting.

To take care of cross border transactions in digital economy, IRAS has introduced two new GST measures from 2020. Which are as follows.

Goods & Services Tax - Reverse Charge

Taxing B2B imported services by way of Reverse Charge (RC)

From 1 Jan 2020, if you are either:

  • a GST-registered partially exempt business that is not entitled to full input tax credit; or
  • a GST-registered charity or voluntary welfare organization that receives non-business receipts,

you will be required to account for GST on all services that you procure from overseas suppliers (“imported services”) as if you are the supplier, except for certain services which are specifically excluded from the scope of reverse charge.

You will be entitled to claim the corresponding GST as your input tax, subject to the normal input tax recovery rules.

Goods & Services Tax - Overseas Vendor Registration

Taxing B2C digital services by way of an Overseas Vendor Registration (OVR)

If you belong outside Singapore, you are required to register for GST in Singapore if you:

  • have an annual global turnover exceeding $1 million; and
  • make B2C supplies of digital services to customers in Singapore exceeding $100,000.

Once registered for GST, you are required to charge and account for GST on B2C supplies of digital services made to customers in Singapore.

Should you do the Voluntary GST Registration for your Company?

The following are the benefits and drawbacks to register voluntarily for GST that would help you decide whether to voluntarily register for GST or not.

Goods & Services Tax - Benefits


  • Since most of the large businesses are GST registered, so getting your business registered for GST gives a signal to your customers that your business is well established and is of substantial size.
  • Businesses do not suffer from the cost of tax as the actual taxpayer is the end-user.
  • GST is not applied to saving, and investments; only consumption is levied. This encourages people to invest and save in productive activities.
  • If you spend substantially on input tax, then voluntarily registering for GST helps you to get a refund of such tax paid.


Goods & Services Tax - Drawbacks
  • It adds to the administrative burden that comes with the GST registration.
  • One may either need to study the complexities of GST or hire an accountant to undertake this work, which can be very cost-effective.
  • Being registered, your selling price increases by 7%. Your customers who are not registered will not be able to reclaim the GST they paid, making them not very pleased about it.
  • GST can be burdensome for smaller businesses / lower-income groups, especially during the time of increased inflation when 7% tax is to be paid on high prices of daily essentials.

What all goods and services are subjected to GST?

Goods & Services Tax - Taxable supplies

Taxable supplies are levied with GST. The taxable supply is the one that is made in Singapore, other than the exempt supply. So the taxable supply can either be a standard rated (7%) or zero-rated.

Almost all the local good and local services of Singapore are Standard rated.

Zero-rated supplies of goods and services are levied with 0% GST. Export of provisions and goods of international services are mostly zero-rated supplies. Therefore, companies that make zero-rated Zero-rated supplies can claim their input tax, which they have paid on purchases.

What is the GST registration procedure?

Goods & Services Tax - Registration Procedure
  • GST F1, which is the form for Singapore goods and services registration along with other supporting documents, is needed to be sent to the tax authorities.
  • An additional form known as GST F3 that gives the details of all the partners must also be completed if there are partnerships in the business.
  • However, if you have access to your corppass account then this application now can be filled in online also.
  • For overseas companies, there are separate application procedures / forms available. A local agent must be appointed by the foreign registrants. This agent will act on his/her behalf and is required to include a letter stating the same along with the application form.
  • The process of registration takes up to three weeks. You will receive a notification whenever your registration is successfully completed. The notification letter will contain your GST number, the date with effect from which your business becomes registered, filing frequency, filing due dates, and other special instructions. GST returns must be submitted electronically.
  • In case you are voluntarily registering for GST, then you will be required to complete an online GST learning course.

How to pay, charge, and implement GST?

Goods & Services Tax - Pay, Charge and Implement
  • If your company is GST registered company, you are responsible to charge GST on the supply of goods and services and remit the tax collected to IRAS.
  • The preferred method of payment is GIRO payment arrangement via a Singapore bank account of your Company.
  • You can collect the GST either by
    • Charging on top of selling price
    • Or, by absorbing the GST and treating the sale price as GST inclusive
  • If your company is GST registered company, you must show GST inclusive prices on all the prices that are advertised, displayed, published, or quoted in writing or verbally. If you fail to do so, it is a punishable offense and is liable to penalty. However, for goods and services that are subject to service charge, prices can be displayed, excluding the GST.
  • An invoice for tax must be issued to the GST registered customers so that they can claim their input tax on the purchases that are standard rated. This invoice contains information about what was sold and the respective GST that was charged on it.
  • As part of your business records, the tax invoices must be retained for at least five years.
  • The tax invoices are not necessarily required to be submitted with your GST return. It is to be issued within thirty days from the time of supply. A tax invoice may not be required for exempt and deemed supplies, zero-rated, and to the non-GST registered customer.
  • You must issue a receipt (serially printed) to the payer when payment has been made to you, and you have not issued a simplified tax invoice or tax invoice.
  • You must keep records of all your transactions that are affected by GST. In addition, maintaining a GST account of all your input and output taxes according to the accounting period will help you a great deal in completion of your GST returns.
  • Input tax claims should be made in the accounting period as per the import permits and the date of the tax invoice.

How to file GST returns?

Goods & Services Tax - File Returns
  • You are required to submit your return GST F5 to the authorities quarterly, depending upon your accounting cycle.
  • You must mention in your return the total value of your sales, purchases, and exports from GST registered entities, the GST collected, and the GST claimed for a specific accounting period.
  • GST Returns are filed online.
  • Once you have e filed your GST F5, your next GST return will be made available online at the end of your accounting period.
  • GST F5 can be file electronically up to one day after your accounting period ends.
  • IRAS must receive your return within a period of one month after the end of your accounting period.
  • If there is no tax due, even then, you are required to submit a Nil return.
  • Regardless of the fact whether the net GST declared is a payable or refundable amount, IRAS will impose the late submission penalty if your GST return is not filed within the prescribed time.
  • You will receive the GST refunds within thirty days from the date when you submitted your tax return.

What are GST Support Schemes by Singapore Government ?

There are several assistance schemes offered by Singapore Government with regards to GST. These schemes help create a pro-business environment and ease the cash flow for businesses.

Goods & Services Tax - Support Schemes
  • Tourist refund scheme – This scheme allows tourists to claim a refund on the goods bought in Singapore from registered retailers if the goods are taken out of Singapore.
  • Gross Margin Scheme – GST is applicable only on the gross margins of the goods.
  • Cash Accounting Scheme – This is a special scheme for small businesses whose yearly sale is not more than S$1 million.
  • Major Exporter Scheme (MES) – This scheme is helping the cash flow of big exporters who have substantial imports.
  • Hand-Carried Exports Scheme – Your goods are hand-carried out of Singapore via Changi International Airport if you want to zero-rate your supply of goods that are made to a foreign customer.
  • Zero GST Warehouse Scheme – To minimize red tape and bypass the GST process, businesses can transform their warehouses into zero-GST warehouses.
  • Discounted Sale Price Scheme – This scheme allows you charge 50 % GST on second-hand vehicles.
  • Import GST Deferment Scheme (IGDS) – This scheme allows you to pay GST when your monthly return is due instead of at the time of import.
  • Other Industry-Specific Scheme – There are several other industry-specific schemes offered by the Singapore Government, such as marine, logistics, etc.


Can a Non-Registered Singapore Company Charge GST?

No. Non registered companies are not allowed to charge GST. It is an offense and can be litigated.

Is it a Must to Collect GST, if Company Exports Goods and Services out of Country?

No. Goods and services exported for foreign customers are known as zero-rated supplies, and GST tax is not applicable to it.

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