FRS39 Section 34A Assets on Capital account

FRS39 deals with financial assets.

Inventories and fixed assets are outside the scope of the FRS.

FRS39 requires us to categorise and differentiate our assets ie. as to whether our assets are capital or revenue in nature.

Gains or losses related to capital assets will not be taxable nor deductible.

FRS39 Section 34A Impairment claims

Old rule – General and specific provisions for bad and doubtful debts were not tax deductible.

New rule (since Mar 6, 2006)

  1. Both individual and collective impairment must be recorded in the income statement and be eligible for tax deduction.
  2. For specific provisions to be tax deductible – subject to detailed info being available. What info? Not define by IRAS.

All borrowing costs are now deductible

Current tax treatment
When is interest expense tax deductible?
Under section 14(1)(a), only interest expenses incurred on capital employed in acquiring income chargeable with tax is allowable against the income earned.

Only interest expenses, incurred on loans that are used to buy assets that make income that are taxable by IRAS, are therefore tax-deductible.

Thus if you used company’s loan facilities to buy “Mona Lisa” for your own enjoyment, then the interest expenses are not tax deductible. But if you charge entrance fees on people who come and see the painting, it would deductible against the income you generated.

Are other borrowing costs tax deductible against chargeable income too?
Under current treatment, the answer is NO.
New tax treatment
What is the effective date?
From Year of Assessment 2008.

What has changed?
Besides interest expense, the other borrowing costs will also be granted tax deduction under section 14 (1) (a). Examples of such borrowing costs are listed below:-
  1. Guarantee fees
  2. Bank option fees
  3. Discounts on notes and bonds
  4. Premiums on redemption of notes or bonds
  5. Prepayment fees/ early redemption fees
  6. Extension fees
  7. Increased costs due to any upward interest rate adjustments when
    certain event occurs as specified in the loan agreement
  8. Interest rate cap rate premiums
  9. Interest rate swap payments
  10. Conversion fees
  11. Cancellation fees
Why the change?
The people, who are “sufferring” from paying the bankers so many types of fees in different names all these years, have successfully persuaded the Authority to accept theses expenses as tax deductible.

On what basis?
The Authority now accepts the argument that all fees payable to the bank to secure a loan facility are part of “interest rate” payable. Without charging all these “miscellaneous” fees, the banks would ask for a higher interest rate from the borrowers anyway.

Last words – So the next time you are going to pay anything to the bank, please make sure they name the fees as one of the above 11 acceptable names above.

Revaluation surplus and tax issues with Yeo Hiap Seng

What is the issue?
Yeo Hiap Seng (YHS) said the revaluation surpluses ($215.3mio) accumulated for several pieces of land it owned are not taxable gain and has not made any tax provision.

PricewaterhourseCoopers, its auditors, has signed off on the accounts for the year ended Dec 31, 2006 while highlighting the “discrepancy” in the audit report.

The Inland Revenue authority (IRAS) has, expressed its disagreement with that position. It is currently reviewing the information submitted by YHS.

Further Explanation
YHS has chosen to make no provisions for tax liability on revaluation surpluses of $128.8 million and $86.5 million, on its tax counsel’s advice that they are capital accretion.

The Sterling / Gardenvista – condominium developments
Prior to obtaining the developer’s licence in Apr 1997, I presume that YHS would be saying that it was holding the land as long term investment or for its own use given F&B as its main business.

Only after Apr 1997, YHS, with the developer’s licence, is now officially in the property development business.

Thus any appreciation in the value of the lands it was holding prior to that date would go to Revaluation Reserve account. Thus YHS’s position that $215.3mio revaluation surplus is deemed not taxable.

In 2004, however, the IRAS said some revaluation surpluses may not be considered capital accretion. In Feb 2006, IRAS repeated that part of YHS’s $128.8 million surplus would not be considered capital accretion. It asked YHS for more information so that it could update its assessments. YHS made submissions to IRAS on June 9.

Loss Carry Back System

What was then?
Companies can either carry forward their unutilised capital allowances (CAs) and trade losses to offset future incomes (i.e. loss carry-forward) or transfer these unutilised CAs and trade losses to offset profit in related companies as part of group relief.

What was wrong?
These schemes may not provide adequate or timely support to smaller businesses that run into cash flow problems, particularly during a cyclical downturn.

What is the solution?
Starting YA 2006, a one-year carry-back of current year unutilised CAs and trade losses will be introduced.

The main features of the scheme are:

a) Only current year unutilised CAs and trade losses will be allowed to be carried back for one YA immediately preceding the YA in which the CAs were granted or the trade losses incurred.

b) Up to $100,000 of current year unutilised CAs and trade losses can be carried back.

c) The carry-back system will be available to all businesses, including sole proprietors and partnerships.

d) The current requirements for carry-forward of unutilised CAs and trade losses will similarly apply when these amounts are carried back i.e. no substantial change in shareholding and nature of business.

QAF and S44A

P/S – Singapore River on Sunday last.

QAF, the company best known for Gardenia bread, told its shareholders that they will receive 973 PSC shares and 284 Zhongguo Jilong shares as dividends for every 1,000 QAF shares held.

Advantages to shareholders
– Allow them to seek tax credits if the corporate tax is higher than personal income tax rate.
– Shareholders have the flexibility to sell the new shares received for cash.

Advantages to QAF
– goodwill with its shareholders
– no impact on its cashflow

Section 44A balances

P/s – Pic of a very majestic bldg to be converted into serviced apartments.

The one-tier corporate tax system will be fully implemented on Jan 1, 2008.

Under the “old two-tier” system, individual shareholders receiving section 44 dividends can claim a refund in part or all of the corporate tax paid.

Example
Under the “old” system, company pays $80 dividend nett of corporate tax rate of 20%. The gross dividend would be $100. $20 has been paid by the company to IRAS. The $20 is placed in the Section 44 account.

Let us assume the individual shareholder’s personal income tax rate is 10%. $10 (ie. $100 x 10%) would be taken out of IRAS’s Section 44 account as credit against the tax payable by that individual.

What is the difference?
Under the one-tier system, the $80 received by the individual would be treated as exempt income. No adjustment of $10 would be given. Effectively, the individual pays a tax rate of 20% for that income.

What to do?
Companies, with accumulated profits which qualify for Section 44 credits and have the liquidity to pay dividends, may consider paying dividends before end of 2007.

So think about it.

GST in your F&B bill

Dear friends,

When you makan at a restaurant, the restaurant will almost definitely hit you with a 10% service charge on actual F&B that you consumed.

Let us take a simple example.

2 steaks @$25 $50.00
A bottle of Cardonnay $40.00

subtotal (1) $90.00
10% service charge $9.00
subtotal (2) $99.00

How much is the GST payable?
Answer – 5% of ($90.00 + $9.00) = $4.95

Mrs Lee, Director of Corporate Communications, IRAS said GST is applied on the final value of goods or services (including any indirect taxes/duties) consumed in Singapore.

P/S – For those who have gone to a movie recently – can share how they calculate GST for your movie ticket?

Reference – Straits Times – Inbox – page 45, Nov 19, 2006.

Bodyguard expenses not tax deductible

What is the issue?
A company seeks the High Court’s decision to allow the expenses for the body guards for a director as tax-deductible expenses.

Decision – The High Court ruled that the expenses are not tax-deductible.

On what ground?
The costs of hiring the bodyguard in this case are ruled not wholly and exclusively incurred in the production of income. [Mr Goh Sher Wee’s voice on this line echoes in my empty head.] The company concerned is in the business of exhibiting motion pictures.

How much monies involved?
About $70,000 costs of body guards per annum. So at 20% corporate tax for example, that would translate to $14,000 in tax deductibles per annum. If the expenses were incurred back in 1970s till 2006, the amount involved would be substantial.

What defence has the appellant’s counsel presented?

  • In 1972, there was a kidnap attempt. 4 men with guns. Shot the director in the arm. Director managed to escape.
  • CID recommended that the director be given the necessary protection.

Information I don’t know

  • When were the expenses incurred?
  • What has a 1972’s incident got to do with 2006?
  • What was the motive for attempted kidnap? Was it business-related?

Even if the director is a key man to the company, the company cannot be incurring expenses for director’s personal matters.

In my opinion, there maybe some grounds for appeal if one can prove that the kidnap attempt was a consequence of the director’s action in effecting his duties for the company. The company would then be obliged to act responsibly in return.

Similarly, the President of USA is well protected at the expense of the nation and certain banks may pay for the insurance of credit card debt collection employees.

To pay IRAS/GST for service?

The front page of Business Times today presented a proposal for companies to pay for official GST help.

What is the pricing?
For advance GST guidance, $525 for each query of initial 4 hours plus $131.25 per subsequent hour. Please double the charges for express service.

Why charge?
My initial response is why. Are companies or their representative in the form of tax agent or untrained accounting staff abusing GST administration with excessive superfluous queries? Does this move contribute to higher business costs? How does GST administration justify the proposed pricing? Are there similar models operated by other government agencies or statutory boards or corporatised entities? What is/are the objectives and roles of IRAS in relation to the the “bigger picture”? How will the new pricing model contribute to that bigger picture?

Why don’t charge?
I humbly drawed on my experience in the property development. The architect submits plans to the various government entities for guidance and approvals for the intended development. Relevant fees are payable. You have to pay for the use of Court facilities too. Should the same be acceptable for GST’s official guidance?

There maybe some justifications.

  • Firstly, there is a need for a pricing mechanism to allocate resources efficiently as resources within IRAS/GST administration is finite too (just like everywhere else).
  • Secondly, the businesses of today are relatively complex as they traverse across national boundaries. Such business would require some level of certainty in the form of official guidance to avoid resource-sapping effort trying to recover from skirmishes with law. They want to focus on doing business. Thus the “small” sum payable for that peace of mind is definitely worthwhile.

Does it increase the costs of doing business in Singapore?
Some of these companies may be paying their tax agents for advice already. As the fees are applicable to advance (and not normal) queries, I presume such queries would only be relevant to bigger and complex companies. The fees thus would be relatively nominal.

Is there a possibility that IRAS/GST recycle official guidances? No two property development applications will ever be the same. So will 2 applications for GST guidances be similar?

Other implications
The fees, when applied, may implicitly provide a check and balance on the performance of the tax agents.

The application of the fees may also change the relationship between IRAS/GST and the enquirer. When a fee is paid for an official guidance, does it imply is a higher level of responsibility? How was it done before? Were there any official guidances given out in the past? Or does IRAS/GST wait until the actual occurrence of the transaction and relevant documents submitted for review before an official judgement is given?