Tuesday, March 6, 2018

3 Tax Reliefs You May Not Know Of To Reduce Your Tax In 2018

The tax filing season is here again. All of us would have received an SMS from IRAS that we need to fill our tax by 15 April for paper filing and 18 April for e-filing. As our income goes up, tax can be quite a significant amount in the thousands. Just to give an example, a person whose take home pay is $3500 plus 3 months of bonus will end up paying $1425 in tax. We can actually reduce our tax by knowing the different reliefs which we may be eligible for. Let's explore the different reliefs in this article. You may not even know some of these reliefs existed.

Course Fees Relief

Those who have studied courses or part time diploma/university courses while working, you are actually able to claim course fee relief on the course fees you paid. The course fees claimable is the actual course fees incurred by yourself up to a maximum of $5500 each year regardless of the number of courses, seminars or conferences you have attended. You can claim only the portion of course fees which you paid. Any amount paid or reimbursed by your employer or any other organisation cannot be claimed.

There are a few criteria to meet for the course fees relief according to the IRAS website:

  1. Any course, seminar or conference you attended in 2017 leading to an approved academic, professional or vocation qualification
  2. Any course, seminar or conference you attended in 2017 that is relevant to your current employment, trade, business, profession or vocation; or
  3. Any course, seminar or conference that you completed between 1 Jan 2015 to 31 Dec 2016 which is relevant to your new employment, trade, business, profession or vocation in 2017
I have personally claimed this relief for my part time university studies before so I can ascertain that this is claimable. University course fees are definitely more than $5500 so just input this maximum amount for your claim. 

There are some courses which are not eligible for the relief. They are: 

  1. Courses, seminars or conferences for recreational or leisure purposes;
  2. Courses, seminars and conferences for general skills or knowledge (e.g. Internet surfing course, social media skills, basic website building skills and Microsoft Office skills); and
  3. Courses, seminars and conferences to acquire skills or knowledge for a hobby instead of your profession (e.g. photography, language and sports courses).
  4. Polytechnic/University courses if graduates have never exercised any employment or carried on any trade, profession or vocation previously.
For more info on this course fee relief, you can refer to IRAS guide here

CPF Cash Top-up Relief

A popular tax relief is the CPF Cash top up relief. If you top up your own CPF Special Account or CPF retirement account in CASH, you are eligible for up to $7000 tax relief per year. An additional $7000 tax relief is applicable if you also top up your family member's CPF special/retirement account.

Examples of family members are:
  • Parents or Parents-in-law;
  • Grandparents or Grandparents-in-law;
  • Spouse; and/or
  • Siblings.

For example, if John tops up $7000 cash to his CPF special/retirement account and also tops up another $7000 cash to his spouse or parents CPF special/retirement account, he will get a total of $14000 tax rebate for the year.

A point to take note is there are income threshold for top up of CPF for spouse/siblings. To claim tax relief for cash top-ups for your spouse or siblings, the spouse or siblings must not have an annual income exceeding $4,000 in the year preceding the year of top-up. Annual income includes taxable income (e.g. trade, employment and rental), tax exempt income (e.g. bank interest, dividends and pension) and foreign-sourced income regardless of whether it has been remitted to Singapore. This income threshold does not apply to parents, grandparents, handicapped* spouse or handicapped* siblings.

There are other limits which can be quite confusing to explain in this blog post. You can refer to IRAS page here for the detailed information. Anyway, you do not need to manually claim for this tax relief. The relief is granted automatically to those who are eligible based on records sent to IRAS by the CPF Board.

Parent Relief / Handicapped Parent Relief

If any of your parent is not working and is 55 years old and above in 2017 or is handicapped, you can claim tax relief also. If your parent is totally not working and does not have any form of income, you can claim $9000 per parent if they stay with you. If they do not stay with you, you can still claim this relief but it will be $5500. Do note that if they do not stay with you, you must have incurred $2,000 or more in supporting him/her in that year to be eligible for the relief.

The family members whom you can claim for this relief includes:
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Parents-in-law
  • Grandparents-in-law
For handicapped parent, you can claim $14000 per dependant if he/she stays with you and $10000 if does not stay with you. You can also share this tax relief with your siblings or other family members for all the above relief. 

You can click here for more information on the Parent Relief / Handicapped Parent Relief. 

There you go, 3 tax reliefs which you may be able to claim if you meet any of the above criteria. There are also other tax relief such as NSmen relief and reliefs for donations made in 2017 but all these will be automatically calculated for us. You should see the relief under your tax assessment form. Its good to file our tax early and get it over and done with.

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  1. one trick is to give your parents allowance in the form of CPF topup instead of cash!

    Also ask your parent to pass you some cash for you to top up.

  2. Lol, who doesn't know of these tax reliefs?! Talk about a presumptive title for a post.

    1. Hi Vikas,

      There are people who are not aware of these tax reliefs. Most people do not claim course reliefs even when they have went for courses eligible for tax reliefs.

      And for parent/handicapped parent relief you may not know of the pain which people face when their parents are disabled. Many people need the financial relief which they do not know of. This post is written because I had some friends and family members who asked me for tax reliefs because their parents are disabled and I realised many do not know how to claim for this relief.