Taxes in Singapore: A Complete Guide for US Expats

Taxes in Singapore: A Complete Guide for US Expats

Living as an Expat in Singapore 

With its vibrant culture and thriving economy, it’s no wonder Singapore is such a popular destination for US expats. And because Singapore is considered a tax haven for corporations, many business owners are drawn to the tiny island nation. 

But what are Singapore’s taxes like for US expats? Let’s take a look.

What Are Singapore Taxes like for US Expats?

First things first: Do Americans living in Singapore have to file taxes at all? 

The short answer is yes. First, virtually all US citizens are required to file a US Federal Tax Return every year, regardless of where they live. But on top of this, most expats living in Singapore will need to file and pay taxes to the Government of Singapore as well. 

What Are the Tax Filing Requirements in Singapore?

Generally, Singapore requires residents to file a personal tax return if their income exceeds 20,000 Singapore dollars (SGD). However, there are no hard and fast rules for tax filing thresholds.

If you are required to file a tax return, Singapore’s Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) will send you a letter, form, or SMS informing you of your obligation. If you are not required to file, the IRAS will send you a notification that you have been selected for No-Filing Service (NFS).

Who Is Considered a Resident of Singapore?

In some cases, the tax obligation for a US citizen living and working in Singapore will depend on whether they’re considered a resident or non-resident.

In Singapore, you are considered a resident if:

  • You are in the country for at least 183 days of the year prior to the year of assessment, or
  • You are employed in Singapore

If you live in Singapore for an uninterrupted period spanning three calendar years, then you will be considered a resident for the entirety of those three years, even if you only lived there for a portion of one or two of those years.

For example, if you moved to Singapore in August of 2019 and remained there until February of 2021, you would be considered a resident for all of 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Finally, US citizens who work in Singapore over at least 183 days spanning two calendar years will be considered residents of Singapore for the entirety of both years, regardless of how much time they spent in Singapore each year.

The IRS tax code is 7,000 pages. Want the cliff notes version for expats? Let us help.

What Types of Taxation Does Singapore Have?

Even if you are required to file a tax return, the good news is that Singapore tax policy excludes several types of taxation, including:

  • Capital gains tax
  • Gift tax
  • Estate tax
  • Inheritance tax
  • Net wealth tax

So what taxes might an American living in Singapore be subject to? Here’s an overview of Singapore taxes for US expats.

Income Tax

Singapore uses a territorial tax system. This means that individuals and companies in Singapore are taxed on only their Singapore-sourced income, while their worldwide income is largely exempt. However, the exact rules for this are complex, and determining what income you’re required to report can be difficult. This is especially true for business owners.

Residents of Singapore who are required to file their taxes are taxed at a progressive rate, listed below in SGD. (The income is listed after the personal allowances have been taken out.)

Income Tax Rates in Singapore

IncomeTax Rate
Under 30,000 SGD2%
30,000–40,000 SGD200 plus 3.5% of income over 30,000
40,000–80,000 SGD550 plus 7% of income over 40,000
80,000–120,000 SGD3,350 plus 11.5% of income over 80,000
120,000–160,000 SGD7,950 plus 15% of income over 120,000
160,000–200,000 SGD13,950 plus 18% of income over 160,000
240,000–280,000 SGD21,150 plus 19% of income over 200,000
280,000–320,000 SGD28,750 plus 19.50% of income over 240,000
Over 320,000 SGD44,550 plus 22% of income over 320,000

Non-resident taxation works a little differently.

Non-Resident Tax Rates in Singapore

  • Non-resident employment income is taxed at 15% or resident rates with personal reliefs, whichever is higher
  • All other forms of non-resident income are taxed at a flat rate of 22%

Property Tax

There is an annual property tax based on the value of buildings, houses, land, or tenements.

  • For owner-occupied residential property, the rates range from 0%–16%
  • For residential property not occupied by the owner, the rates range from 10%–20%.
  • For land and non-residential properties, the tax rate is 10%

Excise Tax

Singapore imposes excise taxes on a number of products, including:

  • Liquor
  • Wine
  • Tobacco products
  • Motor vehicles
  • Gasoline
  • Gambling winnings

Goods and Services Tax

Singapore imposes a 7% tax on business-related goods and services. The only exceptions to this tax are:

  • Financial services
  • Sales or rentals of residential properties
  • Imports of precious metals

Stamp Duties

Singapore applies a stamp duty to several types of legal documents and transfers. This includes:

Stocks and Shares

The transfer or sale of stocks and shares are subject to a stamp duty of 0.2% on the price or market value of the shares transferred, whichever is higher.

Sale of a Property

Anyone who buys a home will generally have to pay a stamp duty. The tax rate is:

  • 1% for the first 180,000 SGD of the sale price
  • 2% for the next 180,000 SGD of the sale price
  • 3% for the next 640,000 SGD of the sale price
  • 4% for any remaining portion of the sale price

Lease of a Property

Renters are also subject to a stamp duty unless their lease has an average rent that is lower than 1,000 SGD.

  • For leases covering a period of up to four years, the tax rate is 0.4% of the total rent
  • For leases lasting longer than four years, the tax rate is 0.4% of four times the average annual rent for the period of the lease

Corporate Tax

Singapore’s headline corporate tax rate is a flat 17%. The rate has decreased steadily over the years, making Singapore all the more attractive for business owners and investors.

Social Security

Singapore’s equivalent of a Social Security system is the Central Provident Fund (CPF). Foreigners living in Singapore are not required to pay into CPF unless they are approved for permanent residency status.

If an expat does decide to become a permanent resident of Singapore, then they will contribute to CPF through their income. The CPF tax rates are:

  • 20% for employees
  • 17% for employers

Self-employed permanent residents who earn at least 6,000 SGD in a year are required to contribute 6% to 8% of their monthly income to their CPF MediSave Account, with a cap of 5,760 SGD.

Does the US Have a Tax Treaty with Singapore?

Currently, there is no tax treaty or totalization agreement between the US and Singapore. Neither side has agreed to clear terms defining which country should receive the income tax for an American living abroad in Singapore. Learn more about what no tax treaty between the US and Singapore means for expats here.

What Tax Forms Do US Citizens Living in Singapore Have to File?

As an American living in Singapore, you may have to file tax forms with both the Singaporean and US governments. Let’s take a look at some of the most common for each—as well as their deadlines.

Singapore Tax Forms for Expats

Individual Income Tax Form

US expats living in Singapore may have to file an income tax form every year. If this is the case, there are three forms to choose from:

  • Employed Singapore residents should file their taxes using Form B1
  • Self-employed Singapore residents should file their taxes using Form B
  • Non-residents should file their taxes using Form M

No matter which form you use, your annual Singapore tax return is due on April 15 if you file a paper return, or April 18 if you file electronically. However, unlike US taxes, you typically do not have to pay your Singaporean taxes until later in the year. The exact deadline is one month after you receive a notice of your tax debt, which is usually sent out in September.

US Tax Forms for Expats

IRS Form 1040: Individual Income Tax Return

Form 1040 is your individual income tax return. Virtually every US citizen is required to file this form, regardless of where they live. Plus, you are required to report your worldwide income, not use income that came from a US source.

The standard due date for Form 1040 is April 15, but expats get an automatic filing extension until June 15. You can even request a further extension to October 15 if necessary.

IRS Form 8938: Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets (FATCA)

Any US citizen who owns foreign assets worth more than a certain amount must file a FATCA report with the IRS. The threshold for filing depends on your filing status and whether you qualify as a resident of a foreign country.

You should file your FATCA report at the same time as your US individual income tax return.

FinCEN Form 114: Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR)

If you have a total of at least $10,000 USD in one or multiple foreign bank accounts, you have to report it by filing FinCEN Form 114, better known as FBAR.

This form must be filed electronically through the FinCEN BSA E-Filing System, and is due on April 15. (But if you miss that deadline, it automatically extends to October 15.)

Get Expert Help with Your Expat Tax Return

Hopefully, after reading this guide, you have a better understanding of the nuances of Singapore taxes for US expats. If you’d like to learn more, though, our team of expat tax experts are always standing by to help.

Don’t just guess. Get the best advice from one of our expat expert CPAs and EAs.
Whether you need tax advice to prepare for a move abroad, to buy property or even retire, Greenback can help. Consults upfront can help avoid costly mistakes and stress later.
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