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22 August 2009

Singapore has no plans to alter property tax system

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Singapore's Ministry of Finance (MOF) said on Friday it will not change the current tax structure for property sales after negative feedback from the public, reported state TV broadcaster Channel News Asia.

The report quoted observers as saying that maintaining the current regime would keep the tax system simple, and avoid confusing sellers - which is critical in a property market that is currently in recovery mode.

Experts said the proposed changes to tax individuals who sell property before a four-year period were designed to shed some light on what defined a trader who sells property as a main source of income.

"Some people may see that the rules were not very clear, so the proposed amendments were to throw some clarification on the matter, but the government has also gone to length to say that this is not an anti-speculation measure or a capital gains tax through the back door," said independent property consultant Nicholas Mak.

The ministry held public consultations, where some said the system should be kept simple and not confuse the market. Experts said this is particularly important during a time of economic recovery, and to keep funds flowing into Singapore.

"The foreign market is looking into Singapore as a potential investing destination, so we have the advantage. If you tweak the tax regime, any uncertainty or any changes may send the wrong signal to investors," said Donald Han, MD of Cushman & Wakefield.

For now, property sellers will continue to be judged on a case-by-case basis to determine if they should be taxed.


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