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Find out how to assess your personal reliefs and deductions correctly with these tips IMAGE: UNSPLASH/SCOTT GRAHAM

Tax Filing Season: Tips To Boost Your Savings

When it comes to #adulting, nothing is more tedious than filing your income taxes. In my first full-time job, I went about my life blissfully unaware of IRAS (Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore) and taxes.

As I was earning a relatively low starting pay then, my yearly income wasn’t taxable. Moreover, the company I worked for was part of the Auto-Inclusion Scheme (AIS).

My ex-colleagues used to say “Aiyah, when you earn more than you can worry about paying taxes.” Well, that time eventually came to pass and I was still clueless.

Biggest misconceptions about filing taxes in Singapore

A lot of employed Singaporeans assume that their companies will file taxes on their behalf. However, that’s not necessarily the case, especially if your company didn’t apply to be a part of AIS.

Unless you have received the No-Filing Service (NFS) notification, it is still compulsory to file your Income Tax Return, even after your employer has submitted your employment income details. This is in case there are other incomes you wish to declare or wish to claim for personal reliefs.

Speaking of which, it is important to understand what you are eligible for when it comes to personal tax income reliefs and deductions. As your salary rises, so will the amount of personal tax you will have to pay.

Here are 5 ways you can reduce your tax liability and boost your savings. Disclaimer - Be sure to check if they are applicable to you.


You can claim tax deductions on employment expenses

Does your current job allow you to work from home? Having a flexible work arrangement does have its perks, but the downside can be that you incur hidden home office expenses (such as electricity and Internet bills).

If this is not covered by your employee, it is possible to claim the amount as a tax deduction. However, you will need to produce supporting documents when requested by IRAS.

You can claim tax deductions on donations

Giving to charity shouldn’t require any incentives. But I must admit I did a double take when I found out that you can claim tax deductions of 2.5 times the amount you donated in a year! Yes, you read that correctly.

The only caveat is that the donation has to benefit an approved Institution of a Public Character (IPC) or the Singapore government. Such organisations include Yayasan Mendaki, National Kidney Foundation (NKF) or the Singapore Association for Mental Health.

Not sure which charity to choose? Have a think about which causes you strongly believe in and start from there.

You can claim tax reliefs from studying

I’m a huge advocate for lifelong learning. It is important that we continuously strive to upgrade our skills or risk being vulnerable to a volatile job market.

I recently wrote about surviving a company layoff exercise and it got me thinking if I should take up a digital marketing course to equip myself better in my current role.

If you’re in the same boat as me, the good news is that you can actually claim for Course Fees Relief. As long as the course you enroll in results in a recognised academic or professional qualification, you are eligible to apply for it. The relief covers tuition, enrolment and even examination fees.


You can claim tax reliefs from taking care of your parents

Filial piety is a core Asian trait. Especially here in Singapore, these values inform some of our government policies. For example, when it comes to applying for an HDB flat, you can enjoy a Proximity Housing Grant (Families) for staying close to your parents.

If you happen to be supporting your parents/grandparents either financially or physically (caregiving), you are eligible to claim for Parent Relief.

You can claim tax reliefs as an NSman

Finally, this is a big one. National Service is a key fabric in Singaporean society, whether it affects you directly (NSman) or indirectly (parent, child or spouse of an NSman).

As a way to recognise our contributions to National Service, the government has introduced NSman relief as a deductible for any type or national service done in the preceding work year.

In my case, I’ve been granted this deduction as I’m regularly called up for my In-Camp Training reservist cycle. NSman Wife and NSman Parent Reliefs are also claimable for spouses and parents as well.


Just started a family? You’re eligible for tax reliefs and rebates

Having a child is a huge financial commitment, so make sure you take advantage of the various schemes available. These include tax savings for both fathers and mothers; for example, the Parenthood Tax Rebate (PTR), where you can claim $5,000 for your first child, $10,000 for your second child, and $20,000 for each of your third and subsequent children. Meanwhile, working mothers are eligible for the Working Mother’s Child Relief, proportionate to a percentage of the mother’s earned income.

Ultimately, your life situation might change and certain tax reliefs will be now applicable to you where it wasn’t relevant before. Thus, you should always reassess your tax reliefs every year to ensure that you do not claim them incorrectly.

If you haven’t submitted your income tax return for Year of Assessment (YA) 2024 (for your income earned in 2023), don’t forget the deadlines are 15 April 2024 for paper filing or 18 April 2024 for e-Filing. All the best!

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