When a person is making payments (where withholding tax is applicable) to a non-Singapore tax resident, he must account (i.e. withhold) for the withholding tax at the earliest of the following dates:
- When the liability to pay the income arises;
- When the income is credited to the account of the non-resident person (or reinvested, accumulated, capitalised or carried to any reserve of any other account however designated, or otherwise dealt with on his behalf); and
- When actual payment of the income is made.
The due date for payment is by the 15th of the second month from the date of payment. Failing which, late payment penalties would be levied.
The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (“IRAS”) has issued the e-Guide “Determining the Date of Payment or Deemed Payment for the Purpose of Complying with Withholding Tax Obligations” (2022 e-Guide) on 8 November 2021. The 2022 e-Guide replaces the IRAS e-tax Guide “Clarification on Date of Payment of Income for the Purposes of Withholding Tax under Section 45 of the Singapore Income Tax Act and Changes to the Withholding Tax Regime Which Takes Effect from 1 April 2003”.
To assist taxpayers, the 2022 e-Guide has expanded the examples to illustrate on how the date of payment or deemed payment for withholding tax is to be determined. Examples are provided for the following scenarios:
- Date of payment of income where there is a contract or agreement
Where the date on which income is payable to the non-Singapore tax resident person is stipulated under any written contract or agreement, the date of payment will be the due and payable date as stipulated therein. However if there is an additional condition that the payment is only payable upon demand by the non-resident, then the due date will be date printed on the demand note or the date voluntary payment is made by the Singapore payer.
- Date of payment where demand for payment is in the form of an invoice
Where there are payment terms for an invoice (e.g. a 30 day credit term), the deemed date of payment remains as the date of the invoice.
- Date of payment of income where there is an accrual in the payer’s account
Where the liability to pay has not arisen and the Singapore tax resident accrues the amount into its financial accounts as at year end, the accrual amount will not be allowed a tax deduction for the basis period for that year of assessment.
- Date of payment of income where there is no physical pay over of cash
Where the payment is contractually due, the contractual due date for payment remains as the deemed date of payment, even if the non-Singapore tax resident:
- Instructs the Singapore tax resident to credit the amount into a designated account
- Instructs the Singapore tax resident to settle the non-Singapore resident company’s outstanding liability with its subsidiary company
- Agrees to the Singapore tax resident’s request (in the case of a loan) to add the interest payable to the principal amount.
Please note that the 2022 e-Guide does not cover the determination for date of payment for directors’ remuneration. Taxpayers are expected to refer to IRAS’ e-Tax Guide “Tax treatment of Director’s Fees and Bonuses from Employment (Second Edition) issued on 12 September 2014 on this matter.
With the clarification provided in the 2022 e-Guide, IRAS will expect greater compliance by taxpayers on withholding tax requirements. It is expected that the IRAS will increase focus on this area in future audits.
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