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As a US expat living in Singapore, you may have to file taxes with both the Singaporean Government and Uncle Sam—or risk heavy fines. Here’s what you need to know.
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.
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.
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).
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:
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.
Even if you are required to file a tax return, the good news is that Singapore tax policy excludes several types of taxation, including:
So what taxes might an American living in Singapore be subject to? Here’s an overview of Singapore taxes for US expats.
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.)
Non-resident taxation works a little differently.
There is an annual property tax based on the value of buildings, houses, land, or tenements.
Singapore imposes excise taxes on a number of products, including:
Singapore imposes a 7% tax on business-related goods and services. The only exceptions to this tax are:
Singapore applies a stamp duty to several types of legal documents and transfers. This includes:
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.
Anyone who buys a home will generally have to pay a stamp duty. The tax rate is:
Renters are also subject to a stamp duty unless their lease has an average rent that is lower than 1,000 SGD.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
At Greenback Expat Tax Services, we’ve spent years helping expats file their taxes accurately, on time, and without a dollar wasted. Just contact us, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.