Enhanced Loss Carry Back – Priority issue

Rule – A company that has assessable income for a particular YA may be eligible to offset the income with losses carried forward from a prior YA as well as losses carried back from a subsequent YA.

Consider this scenario. There could be loss carried forward from YA2006 available to offset the
assessable income of $80,000 in YA 2007 in addition to the loss carried back from YA2009.

Question – What should the priority of offset be? Should it be carry forward first, then carry back, or vice versa?

Answer – Based on section 37E(1) and (17) of the Income Tax Act, the losses brought forward would be deducted first.

Transfer pricing in taxation

In management accounting, transfer pricing is a topic which addresses the issues with regard to determining a price for the transfer of goods and services between two divisions in a decentralised set-up.

In taxation, transfer pricing relates to the following areas:-

  • When entity A sells goods on credit to entity B and the receivable remains outstanding beyond the normal credit term – Entity A may be deemed to have provided interest-free funding to entity B.
  • Entity A and entity B are related. Entity B uses entity A’s accounts department as its accounting resource. How much should entity A charge entity B? IRAS is prepared to accept a 5% mark-up on the basis that this has been a practice commonly adopted by related party service providers in Singapore as remuneration for providing routine support services. Other mark ups are acceptable. subject to arm’s length principle.
  • In the third situation, entity A and entity B are utilising a service provided in a cost pooling arrangement. Issue here is the way the costs are allocated between the entities.

What is a business’ commencement date?

I am duly notified today that IRAS has issued a directive in an attempt to define a business’ commencement date.

What is the definition of the business’ commencement date?
It is only when the business has established its profit-making structure and started its
first commercial activity that it can be regarded as having commenced operation.

What is profit-making structure?
No specific definition. It depends on the nature of the business. IRAS has however provided several examples in the directive.

If you were runnning a supermarket, it commences business when it opens its door and offers its goods for sale to the public. It is definitely not the date of opening ceremony.

For a manufacturing entity, it is the date the entity is in a position to start its first commercial production.

The start date for a hotel is simpler. It is the day it receives the certificate of registration.

A property developer seems to be getting a rough deal. The business commences when it buys its first piece of land or building for sale.

For a set up to provide professional service, it is deemed to have started business when it is ready to commence marketing activities. So if you are still in the midst of hiring staff and putting your office together, you have not started your business yet.

In case of doubt, you can always write in to IRAS for assistance.

UOLD case and S33A of Stamp Duties Act

Ion in the making

Who are the parties involved?
UOL Development (Novena) Pte Ltd vs Commissioner of Stamp Duties

What are the facts of the case?
In 2005, 53 owners at Minbu Road sold their respective properties on an enbloc basis to UOL Development after a tender. UOL Development’s lawyers subsequently sent separate letters of acceptance to each owner. UOL Development was effectively trying to treat this as 53 separate purchases instead of as an en bloc purchase.

The intended outcome was to reduce the stamp duties payable by UOL Development as the rate of stamp duties is progressively structured.

To illustrate
I assume each property is $1 million and the en bloc price is $53 millions.
The stamp duties payable for $53 mio en bloc price would be $1,584,600.
The stamp duties payable for $1 mio x 53 transactions would be $1,303,800.
A saving of about $280,000!!!

Decision of the Court
The Court ruled against UOL Development for reason that the original intention and contract was for a Sale & Purchase on an en bloc basis.

The Court also said that there was NO “sound commercial basis” for 53 separate contracts and the arrangement was “so contrived that it was clearly intended to reduce or avoid tax liabilities”.

Reference – Lim Gek Khim, “Tax Planning – When does it become tax avoidance?”, Singapore Accountant, Sep/Oct 2008.

Tax Planning or Tax Avoidance?

F1 in Singapore soon but Look at the mess!

As we consult with our clients on structuring a business and its activities, we often have to check ourselves as to whether we are helping the client to manage its tax exposure efficiently as compared to facilitating the client in avoiding tax.

What is it that so difficult, you may ask. Just go and find out the definition of tax planning and tax avoidance and; just follow the letters of the law.

Dr Richard Hu, the then Minister of Finance back in 1999, attempted to give some meat to the meaning of tax avoidance in the second reading of the bill to adopt Section 33A of the Stamp Duties Act. He said,

  • tax avoidance schemes are purely tax driven, with little or no commercial value or rationale.
  • tax planning are activities/ schemes structured to be tax efficient in accordance with the relevant tax laws.

But am I any wiser after the reading that? I don’t think so.

As we push the boundary of tax planning, are we edging closer to tax avoidance?

In my next posting, I will cite a real case for discussion.

Source – Lim Gek Khim, “Tax Planning – When does it become tax avoidance”, Singapore Accountant, Sep/Oct 2008.

R&D Tax Allowance (RDTA)

New allowance is deductible from Chargeable Income effective YA2009 – YA2013.

It is capped at 50% of the first $300,000 of Chargeable Income.

RDTA Computation

Chageable income
Less – RDTA set off
Less – Partial Exemption
Net Chargeable Income (A)

RDTA = 50% of A
Max – $150,000

Basic guidelines of how RDTA works
1. Compute RDTA for Year 1
2. Year 1 RDTA is available for setoff against net Chargeable Income for Year 2, 3 and 4
3. Any unutilised RDTA would be “lost” after 3 years
4. The setoff amount is the lower of RDTA OR incremental R&D expenditure by company for the year.

What is “incremental” R&D expenditure?

R&D expenditure for YA2009
Less – R&D expenditure for YA2008
Incremental R&D expenditure

S14D R&D

R&D expenditure now qualify for 150% deduction with effect from YA2009 – YA2013.

The R&D may not be related to the existing business / trade.

Mr Sum Yee Loong (assuming I heard him correctly) thus advised that if you want to start a new business with some R&D activities, you should it as a division in the existing business first.

You may push the division out as a separate business later.