Do I need to register for GST?

What is GST

In Singapore, GST is a tax imposed:

(a) on the importation of goods only (collected by Singapore Customs at the point of importation into Singapore) and

(b) the supplies of nearly all goods and services made in Singapore by a taxable person in the course or furtherance of any business carried on by him.

From the above, it is important to note the following:

(a) GST is currently suspended on imported services

(b) the person must be in business to be able to charge you GST

(c) GST is charged for the supply of goods and services in Singapore only. If it is supplied outside Singapore, it will be out of GST scope or charged at 0% (Editor’s note: not all international services are out of GST scope or charged at 0%. Therefore, please refer to the IRAS website for further details.)

Compulsory Registration

It is compulsory to register for GST if the taxable turnover of a business :

(a) has exceeded S$1 million in the past 4 quarters (ending Mar, Jun, Sep
and Dec); or

(b) is expected to exceed S$1 million in the next 12 months.

A person who is liable to register needs to inform the Comptroller of GST within 30 days when his liability to register arises. In order to fulfill this obligation on a timely basis, he needs to monitor, at the end of every quarter, whether his taxable turnover for the last four quarters has exceeded S$1 million, as well as continuously monitor if his taxable turnover will exceed S$1 million at any time in the next 12 months.

Definitely not easy for a business owner to monitor his taxable turnover if he does not keep a proper set of accounts for his business, which unfortunately is very common in Singapore. By doing so, they face the risk of being registered retrospectively and heavy fines imposed by IRAS for late registration.

Voluntary Registration

Businesses that are not required to register for GST may still do so voluntarily. However, businesses are advised to consider this voluntary registration option carefully, weighing the costs and benefits of GST registration.

Exemption from Registration

Depending on the nature of the taxable supplies made by a business, the Comptroller may exempt the business from GST registration.

How can we assist

We encouraged businesses that have turnover of nearing $1 million to prepare their accounts, at least on a quarterly basis. This will enable businesses to know immediately the period in which their turnover exceeds the compulsory registration threshold of $1 million and take steps to apply for registration with IRAS and thus avoid being caught for non-compliance.

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