What is GST to You?
GST in Singapore is an abbreviation for goods and services tax. The goods and services refer to domestic consumption on local and imported items. There are exceptions however, and included are the sale or lease of residential properties that are exempt and those in relation to financial services. The current GST in Singapore is at a rate of 7% on the purchases or supply value and the selling price of goods or services. GST is the same as the Valued Added Tax (VAT) in many other countries with input and output taxes in it.
GST registration is of two types. One is compulsory and is required of businesses if at the end of a quarter their business trunover exceed S$1 million. The same GST registration is also required if in previous quarters the same condition existed or at any time if the taxable supplies will exceed S$1 million for a year. The quarters referred to relate to those in a calendar year meaning first quarter ending March 31, and so on. The application for GST registration in Singapore is to be made within one month before operations.
Voluntary GST Registration
The second type of GST registration is voluntary and this is for companies whose taxable supplies do not exceed S$1 million. A company may however opt to register for several reasons to include their business operations and scenarios. Also important is the economic benefit a business gets by passing the burden of the tax to its consumers. When the customers are GST registered, it is best that the company be GST registered to enable customers to claim the GST incurred. The company needs to make sure that customers are issued GST invoices and records are properly kept of the GST claimed. Another thing, if the suppliers of the business are GST registered, the business needs to claim the GST incurred from its suppliers too.
E-Learning Course or Seminar
The manager of a company or owner of a business needs to complete two e-learning courses. The first is "registering for GST" then take and pass the test before submitting the application form together with supporting documents for registration. The course assessment includes the duties and functions of to be GST companies and businesses; and considerations for voluntarily registrations.There is another course namely, “Overview of GST” which a business owner, partner, director, or trustee will take that happens after the registration and lasts for a quarter of a year. A choice to complete the course is open either through e-learning or through the seminar.You may skip these e-learning courses if you have experience managing other GST registered businesses in Singapore or the person who prepares your GST returns is an Accredited Tax Advisers (ATA) or Accredited Tax Practitioners (ATP)
Passing the Cost
GST tax is normally passed onwards to consumers, so GST will not be an additional cost to GST registered business entities. These business entities only act as collecting agents for IRAS, the Singapore tax authority. For non-GST registered business entities however, they will have to foot the additional cost since they are not entitled to pass onwards the costs to consumer. They can only adjust their selling price to recover the GST which is paid to suppliers that are GST registered or absorb the GST themselves by lowering their profit margin.
Exemption from Registration
Companies making GST exempted supplies, despite having sales exceeding S$1 million can apply for exemption from registration. These businesses are only taking back and not paying tax at all to the taxing authority. If purchases are over 90% from suppliers that are tax exempt themselves, and if the output tax from sales is less than the input tax from suppliers, then an exemption may be granted to these companies.