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Working from Home in Singapore (for a US Company)

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Working from Home in Singapore (for a US Company)

Postby uscate » Wed, 19 Jun 2013 6:57 pm

I’m an HR recruiter, and am currently in discussions regarding a work from home situation with my husband’s company (US based - I worked for them as a contractor before we moved here). I’m here on an LTVP (not a DP), and will be working for the company’s US headquarters, NOT for the Singapore branch. This is not an entry level role.

This is still in discussion phase, so nothing has gotten to the gahmen.

I have read this from Strong Eagle: Here's the deal... the only way you make this work is to work online, from your home, and deposit all your earnings in Canada. You will not be subject to Singapore tax... indeed, you will not even report anything... under the radar, as it were.

Or... as a DP, you create a company, get a LOC, get paid in Singapore and file your taxes here instead of Canada.

If you are not "present" in the Singapore marketplace, that is, if you do not do anything that ends up in Singapore, then do the first thing. For example, I managed my properties from Singapore, properties in the US, including buying and selling... none of this ended up on my Singapore return.


Although I'll be working online solely for the US, my concern is twofold:
A) I'm here on an LTVP and am from the US, not CN....
and
B) the Singapore HR may not know what’s up, and the US HR folks are relying on them for information


Any advice??

Thanks -

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 19 Jun 2013 7:21 pm

Honestly, I foresee problems as, while you will be technically working for a US company, I believe the fine print says something like as long as you are working for a foreign company "that has NO presence in Singapore".

As a former headhunter, I worked for a local company but it was common knowledge that somebody who was not licensed as an agency in Singapore could be contacted by a foreign MNC via their home office, hire the individual and after hiring, the foreign office transferring them to their Singapore subsidiary Thereby circumventing both the licensing of the agency, MOM and IRAS. They are pretty wise to this. So, just a word of advice, be very, very careful.

My advice. Don't do it.

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Postby uscate » Wed, 19 Jun 2013 7:38 pm

Hi SMS - Thanks for your quick response, but that wasn't the advice I was looking for.... :o

Does this color the picture any differently?: The division here in Singapore, while part of the global corporation, is a different legal entity than the US headquarters....

This may be splitting hairs, but I figured I'd throw that out there.

I'm not getting any hopes up, but am hoping there's some way to make this work, although perhaps not so much...

Thank you again for your advice - and I'll try not to sulk if it's not what I want to hear....

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 19 Jun 2013 9:20 pm

Normally Singapore presence here of an MNC is a locally registered company. The link is still there, unfortunately. Give it a try, but don't be surprised if it all turns to stinking brown stuff. Very few US companies here are wholly owned by the parent company, but most are subsidiaries in one form or another. I'm not a legal beagle so don't know if there is a legal way around it or not aside from keeping a very, very low profile (including staying out of the local office).

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Postby uscate » Thu, 20 Jun 2013 12:49 am

Thanks SMS!! Fingers crossed!

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Postby Strong Eagle » Fri, 21 Jun 2013 12:46 am

Cate, this is really a gray area. Singapore law really hasn't caught up with the idea of telecommuting. and there are two things to be looked at.

A - Do you need a work permit?

The answer to this question appears to be "no". You are not working in Singapore. You are not in competition with any Singaporean for a local job. You are not working for a local company. So far as I can tell, you couldn't apply for a work permit because there is no company that would be submitted it.

The Singapore company must be a different legal entity... it is a Singapore company, not a USA one. It is probably a wholly owned private limited. If you were working for this company, you would need a work permit and would pay Singapore personal income tax, even if your salary came from the USA corporation.

B - Do you need to pay income tax?

Income that is foreign sourced is not subject to tax. The question is whether or not the work you do for the USA employer is subject to Singapore income tax. At http://www.iras.gov.sg/irasHome/page04.aspx?id=13826, the statement is made, "The service income is considered foreign-sourced if the services are provided through a fixed place of operation in a foreign country. A fixed place of operation refers to a place of management, an office or some floor space where the taxpayer or its employees provide the services. "

So, by telecommuting, are you providing services at a fixed place of operation in a foreign country? Although I've not seen anything specific about this, I think the answer is "yes" because you provide your HR services at the USA company, even though you have emailed them in from Singapore. You may have access to company servers located in the USA.

If you are intending on contracting, the situation becomes much more murky. You don't work for the company, you work for yourself. You don't have an operation in a foreign country, your operation is here in Singapore. The same page says, "The service income is considered Singapore-sourced and taxable if:
• The services are not provided through a fixed place of operation in the foreign country and;
• One is carrying on a trade, business or profession of providing such a service in Singapore."


In summary, I believe you don't need a work permit and if you are contracting to the USA firm, which you implied with your original question, then you will be liable for personal income tax in Singapore.

The alternative is to create your own company here, and go to work for it. Not an Entrepass. Several professionals have gone this route and there are a few threads on this subject in the Careers forum.

For more information on tax exemptions for foreign sourced service income see: http://www.iras.gov.sg/irasHome/uploade ... Income.pdf

Your best bet is to call IRAS to determine if you are taxable based upon your circumstances.

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Postby uscate » Fri, 21 Jun 2013 1:28 am

Thank you for your in depth response Strong Eagle!

I will be a "permanent employee" of the US corporate headquarters - I will not be contracting with them. It sounds like that may actually make my life easier, rather than more difficult.

I'm hoping that this all comes to pass, as I'm learning that it is more boring being a "lady who lunches" than I had initially thought possible -

Thanks to you and to SMS for your replies.


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