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Singapore financial firms to establish tax status of customers

Financial institutions (FIs) in Singapore must establish customers' tax statuses, under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) that came into force at the start of this year.09 Jan 2017

The CRS is an internationally agreed standard for the automatic exchange of information (AEOI) on financial accounts between jurisdictions for tax purposes. It has been endorsed by the OECD and the Global Forum for Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.

Singapore has committed to commence AEOI under the CRS in 2018. However, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) has said that financial firms must now send it the financial account information of any customers resident in jurisdictions with which Singapore has a Competent Authority Agreement (CAA) to exchange information.  

Account holders will be asked to supply any documents needed to prove their tax residency status.

Singapore currently has CAAs with Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Norway, Italy, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Iceland, Malta, Ireland, Latvia and New Zealand.

For accounts opened before 1 January, FIs should contact account holders to confirm their tax residency status if the FIs hold information that indicates they could be foreign tax residents. For new accounts opened on or after 1 January accountholders can complete a self-certification form.

"It is important that account holders cooperate fully with their FIs when approached. If the account holders do not respond to their FIs' requests to confirm their tax residency status, the FIs will have to treat the account holders as tax residents in the respective foreign jurisdictions, based on the information available to the FIs,'' IRAS said.

IRAS warned customers that they must provide accurate information.

"Account holders should also inform their FIs of any change in circumstances, such as long-term job postings to a foreign jurisdiction, which may affect their tax residency status. Account holders are also reminded to ensure that all submissions to FIs are accurate. Deliberately providing false information to the FIs on an account holder’s tax residency status is an offence under the CRS law," it said.