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Working Remotely from Singapore as a Tax Resident - which pass/structure?

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Re: Working Remotely from Singapore as a Tax Resident - which pass/structure?

Postby PNGMK » Mon, 19 Feb 2018 2:05 pm

Strong Eagle wrote:
PNGMK wrote:
Strong Eagle wrote:
There must be a couple of contributing factors. I closed my business accounts at UOB in Singapore three years after I left. They were informed of my new overseas residence, I never had an issue with any banking facilities, which I had to use from time to time as I wound down the company.

I still have my personal account at Stan Chart, now five years since I left. If I put any money in it, and it doesn't meet minimum balance thresholds, they charge me $4 per month until my balance goes to zero. They leave the account active for about six months, then make it dormant. If I deposit a few dollars into the account, it becomes active again, and they start taking their $4 surcharge again until the balance goes to zero, at which time we repeat the cycle.


The banks seem to all vary differently on policy and risk but they will all know that the OP's EP has expired and at some point she will run out of time. There has definitely been an uptick in KYC audits since the 1MDB scandal but maybe it's died down for awhile. Having a valid postal address to send mail to definitely helps (I'm acting as a postal agent for a few ex Singapore friends bank accounts).


That is very true. They have also had 14 years of experience with me and my company. Our outgoing transactions were for employees, airlines, hotels, apartments. Our incoming transactions were all from large MNC's.

Starting fresh, with unknown vendors and unknown sources of income is indeed another story.


Absolutely - we very much going back to the days when you either need history or a reference to get a bank account here. When I first came to Singapore my employer vouched for me at HSBC where they banked so I could open an account.
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Re: Working Remotely from Singapore as a Tax Resident - which pass/structure?

Postby ParanoidAndroid » Mon, 19 Feb 2018 9:37 pm

Monday update:

Called Australian High Commission and learned the reason they can't witness/notarise statutory declarations relating to de facto status is that Singapore does not legally recognise de facto marriage. And since they're in Singapore they don't want to say anything that contradicts local laws, it opens up a whole mess of legal/diplomatic shit they just don't want to get into. Fair enough.

So notarisation even by an Australian notary in Singapore doesn't work; being physically in Australia is the only option. On the plus side it does not have to be done in our home state (a five hour flight to Perth beats eight hours to Sydney). On the minus side, AHC said LTVPs are not usually granted on merit of de facto status. Chances increased if my partner makes a lot of money. And apparently Singaporean authorities love documents, ideally old documents of bank statements and whatnot going back to cohabitation in Australia. Okay.

Called Ministry of Manpower and got confirmation that providing an affidavit notarised in Australia will be accepted for LTVP application. 'Can you let me know what other documents are required that we may only be able get in Australia? So we don't have to fly back again later.' Cannot. Affidavit is first document required, we may request further documents later on a case by case basis. 'Can you let me know what types of documents are usually requested to support an application?' Also cannot. Okay.

Also sent some requests for consultation to US tax lawyers based in Singapore, which I really should have thought of earlier. They all market themselves toward American expats but should still be qualified to advise a non-resident alien. Will update again with the outcomes.

Also learned that the Canadian thing is out; no treaty benefits for people who don't reside in Canada, doesn't matter where the company is registered.

I've come around to thinking that filing at least some tax in the US might be a good idea to placate the IRS and the banks and generally appear less money launder-ish. If it's active income connected to US I should pay at graduated personal rates. That would be okay if I could swing 50/50 US and foreign income, i.e. file 50% with IRS and 50% with IRAS. Hopefully deduct COGS on the US side, makes sense I think since the active US income will all come from product sales.

Really hope I can make the US LLC work, despite the potential drawbacks. I'll be purchasing from China in USD. Without a US bank account, Stripe or PayPal or whatever gateway will auto-convert to SGD at settlement (fees) and I'll have to reconvert to USD to pay suppliers (more fees).

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Re: Working Remotely from Singapore as a Tax Resident - which pass/structure?

Postby Strong Eagle » Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:04 pm

Also sent some requests for consultation to US tax lawyers based in Singapore, which I really should have thought of earlier. They all market themselves toward American expats but should still be qualified to advise a non-resident alien. Will update again with the outcomes.


Good luck with that. If you hook up with someone from KPMG or PWC, you'll probably get correct answers, but at a king's ransom. There are a handful of qualified Singapore based tax accountants, and they are hard to engage and also relatively expensive. If you think you want a Wyoming LLC, then look up some CPA's in Casper and ask away.

I've sent a request to my accountant... I'll probably hear back today.

If a USD denominated account is what you are after, at least Citibank in Singapore offers such an animal. And, you can use the money changers at Raffles Place to get the best exchange deal.

Not terribly surprising about the hoops you have to jump through for a common law marriage. Singapore is still mighty backwards when it comes to some things... including recognition of gay rights.

You're back to the first question: What are you going to do about your legal residence in Singapore? And were it I, I'd be going after a Singapore company and EP, along with a dollar denominated bank account. The only place that I have ever found worse than the US for business tax filings is Thailand.

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Re: Working Remotely from Singapore as a Tax Resident - which pass/structure?

Postby Strong Eagle » Tue, 20 Feb 2018 7:06 am

My accountant was kind enough to provide a bit of information for me/you.

She prefaces her comments with, "I am not an expert in selling goods in the US and when there is a breach of the “doing business” and “effectively connected” status of income that becomes taxable in the US. I can do some research on the matter if needed, but that may take some time."

She brought up the following points,

Even if you are using a fulfillment company to pack/ship your goods in the USA, one of the factors that comes into play about "doing business" is where the title to the goods is transferred. If you import the goods to the USA, then transfer to the fulfillment company, you would probably be considered to be holding inventory in the USA and subject to "doing business".

Qualifying again on the basis of very limited information, she is of the opinion that income from consulting would not be differentiated from income from the sale of goods and would be taxable on your own US income tax return. She advises caution in trying to setup any kind of consulting arrangement because you might be hit with "unexpected reporting and tax requirements. Foreign reporting and tax matters can become quickly complicated."

If you want to make contact with her directly, I'll PM you information. The only way to get a valid opinion of what you're getting yourself into is to consult with an accountant about your specific plans and circumstances.

Good luck.

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Re: Working Remotely from Singapore as a Tax Resident - which pass/structure?

Postby ParanoidAndroid » Fri, 23 Feb 2018 4:01 pm

Many thanks for taking the time to reach out to your accountant and get back to me with information (wow I nearly typed 'revert' just then). Her advice pretty much lines up with what I've managed to glean from other sources, which is reassuring.

Have booked a meeting with a JP in Australia next month, and a consult with a Singapore-based US tax lawyer and accountant who's part of a multinational group that deals with international tax planning (according to their legit-looking website). Will update in a couple of weeks with how that turns out.

Hopefully everything can be wrapped up by the end of March, or at least a clear way forward emerges. If the US tax guy does not work out then I may take you up on an intro to your accountant, thanks again for offering. :)

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Re: Working Remotely from Singapore as a Tax Resident - which pass/structure?

Postby PNGMK » Fri, 23 Feb 2018 4:42 pm

Please update us. I once had an offshore entity via OCRA. They have an office in Singapore and may be able to advise on entities and I am sure they will know about banks and payment gatways.
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Re: Working Remotely from Singapore as a Tax Resident - which pass/structure?

Postby Strong Eagle » Fri, 23 Feb 2018 10:58 pm

ParanoidAndroid wrote:Called Australian High Commission and learned the reason they can't witness/notarise statutory declarations relating to de facto status is that Singapore does not legally recognise de facto marriage. And since they're in Singapore they don't want to say anything that contradicts local laws, it opens up a whole mess of legal/diplomatic shit they just don't want to get into. Fair enough.


Not that I don't love the land down under and all the folks I've met that hail from there, but the folks at the Singapore version of the Australian High Commission are a bunch of pissy wankers, far more concerned about "face" than helping their citizens, or someone like me, attempting to setup a business relationship in Australia.

Fact is, Singapore DOES recognize other country common law marriages... even the types of passes you can get under common law marriage are listed on the MoM website. And, people who have posted on this forum previously have had success in demonstrating common law marriage.

The point is not whether common law marriage is legal in Singapore, it's all about whether it's legal in the country of the applicants. It's about recognition of marriage from other countries, and the reciprocal, recognition of Singapore marriages in Australia and the rest of the world.

Your Australian High Wankers can't be bothered to help you. If it's legal in Australia, Singapore will recognize it, they just want the documentation. That "legal/diplomatic shit" is so much crap... you've got the ultimate in useless bureaucratic scheisskopfs waiting for you to simply go away. I'd contact your MP, or anyone, anything else that could put pressure on the local wankers.

Christ, being common law married is not like, gawd forbid, a gay person, of whom Singapore still refuses to acknowledge.

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Re: Working Remotely from Singapore as a Tax Resident - which pass/structure?

Postby Strong Eagle » Fri, 23 Feb 2018 11:05 pm

ParanoidAndroid wrote:Many thanks for taking the time to reach out to your accountant and get back to me with information (wow I nearly typed 'revert' just then). Her advice pretty much lines up with what I've managed to glean from other sources, which is reassuring.

Have booked a meeting with a JP in Australia next month, and a consult with a Singapore-based US tax lawyer and accountant who's part of a multinational group that deals with international tax planning (according to their legit-looking website). Will update in a couple of weeks with how that turns out.

Hopefully everything can be wrapped up by the end of March, or at least a clear way forward emerges. If the US tax guy does not work out then I may take you up on an intro to your accountant, thanks again for offering. :)


Use of "revert" means automatic revocation of all passes, credentials, certificates, and attendance awards you may have received! :cool: :mrgreen:

I judge there are two kinds of accountants in this world: The ones who look at all applicable laws and regulations, then provide you with guiding advice to ensure that you are in compliance with all of the requirements, and those that are looking for loopholes to be exploited for fun and profit, which will make both you and the accountant richer.

Just ask Paul Manafort how that's been working out.

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Re: Working Remotely from Singapore as a Tax Resident - which pass/structure?

Postby PNGMK » Sat, 24 Feb 2018 7:37 pm

Strong Eagle wrote:
ParanoidAndroid wrote:Called Australian High Commission and learned the reason they can't witness/notarise statutory declarations relating to de facto status is that Singapore does not legally recognise de facto marriage. And since they're in Singapore they don't want to say anything that contradicts local laws, it opens up a whole mess of legal/diplomatic shit they just don't want to get into. Fair enough.


Not that I don't love the land down under and all the folks I've met that hail from there, but the folks at the Singapore version of the Australian High Commission are a bunch of pissy wankers, far more concerned about "face" than helping their citizens, or someone like me, attempting to setup a business relationship in Australia.

Fact is, Singapore DOES recognize other country common law marriages... even the types of passes you can get under common law marriage are listed on the MoM website. And, people who have posted on this forum previously have had success in demonstrating common law marriage.

The point is not whether common law marriage is legal in Singapore, it's all about whether it's legal in the country of the applicants. It's about recognition of marriage from other countries, and the reciprocal, recognition of Singapore marriages in Australia and the rest of the world.

Your Australian High Wankers can't be bothered to help you. If it's legal in Australia, Singapore will recognize it, they just want the documentation. That "legal/diplomatic shit" is so much crap... you've got the ultimate in useless bureaucratic scheisskopfs waiting for you to simply go away. I'd contact your MP, or anyone, anything else that could put pressure on the local wankers.

Christ, being common law married is not like, gawd forbid, a gay person, of whom Singapore still refuses to acknowledge.

I wholeheartedly agree. The AHC has steadily redused forms of assistance available while increasing fees to Australians since I moved here in the 80s. Most Aussies here wouldn't piss on anyone working there is they were on fire. Bunch of overpaid arses who forget they are the servants of the people and the ambassador is an overpaid messenger, not an elected leader. If you with DFAT and reading this take this as a message of extreme discontent.
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Re: Working Remotely from Singapore as a Tax Resident - which pass/structure?

Postby ParanoidAndroid » Mon, 26 Feb 2018 4:19 pm

PNGMK wrote:Please update us. I once had an offshore entity via OCRA. They have an office in Singapore and may be able to advise on entities and I am sure they will know about banks and payment gatways.


Thanks for the OCRA tip. It's tax season so I couldn't get an appointment with the tax/biz consultant until next week but will definitely update then. Maybe Singapore entity will turn out to be best bet after all; we'll see.

Preferable tax rates and payment gateways and all that aside, I naturally gravitate toward the option that brings the least amount of bullshit to deal with (including and especially other people). With all the cautions against US entities - and this assumes the US tax burden won't be ridiculous, a big if - the LLC comes with a lot of plusses, at least on the surface. Set up in one day, $1 paid up capital. Single owner, no board, no hired local director with the potential to screw you over. No secretary, no annual meetings and minutes. Eff-all registration and compliance fees. The quarterly filings would be a bit of a drag, is all. Perhaps I'm missing the bullshit that lies beneath the surface.

Though compared to Singapore entity with EP ... ugh. 50k paid up (at least), multiple moving parts/people to keep track of, and the unutterable joy of crafting/selling a business plan in government-friendly bullshit Marketingspeak to justify my reason for existence to MOM. And I still may qualify for US ECI anyway.

Strong Eagle wrote:I judge there are two kinds of accountants in this world: The ones who look at all applicable laws and regulations, then provide you with guiding advice to ensure that you are in compliance with all of the requirements, and those that are looking for loopholes to be exploited for fun and profit, which will make both you and the accountant richer.


Definitely want the first kind. Getting audited, sued, deported, imprisoned or any combination of the above would be the ultimate in bullshit to be avoided at all costs. :mrgreen:

Strong Eagle wrote:Your Australian High Wankers can't be bothered to help you. If it's legal in Australia, Singapore will recognize it, they just want the documentation. That "legal/diplomatic shit" is so much crap... you've got the ultimate in useless bureaucratic scheisskopfs waiting for you to simply go away. I'd contact your MP, or anyone, anything else that could put pressure on the local wankers.


Though you make a good point, my instinctive reaction to this reasonable suggestion reveals how the Australian psyche enables such bureaucratic wankery. Find an MP or someone to complain to? Yeah nah, it wouldn't change anything anyway; I'll take the faster and more expensive path of lesser resistance, and save myself the aggravation.

It's been my observation (of myself and others) that the average middle class Australian has too much money and too little interest to want to fight against being strategically gauged by either politicians or companies. We'll bitch about it of course; taking action is another story. :roll:

'Australia Tax' refers to the tendency of international companies to charge more in Australia for the same product. Probably Adobe Photoshop is the most well-known example: for years it was cheaper to fly return to Los Angeles from Sydney and buy the software there, cost of flights included. The Adobe CEO's rationale for the price difference? 'Because I can, they'll still buy it.' I think this has been corrected by Adobe now, but it took a hell of a long time to build up enough consumer outrage.

Another example that remains current: the toll on the Sydney Harbour Bridge was originally put in place with the promise that it would be removed when the bridge was paid off. Yet 30 years after the bridge was fully paid for, thousands of people still pay a (much higher) toll on a daily basis. Upwards of $80 million in toll revenue per year against $15 million in bridge maintenance costs.

My de facto in-laws came to Australia as refugees and after 40 years, they remain amazed at the general populace's apathetic acceptance to getting f*cked. In their view, 'If the government had tried that in the old country, the people would have torn the bridge down.'

One more reason to be pro-immigration. :lol:

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Re: Working Remotely from Singapore as a Tax Resident - which pass/structure?

Postby ParanoidAndroid » Thu, 08 Mar 2018 4:46 pm

Tax lawyer / CPA meeting update:

On the US LLC side, his position was that as a non-resident alien with a drop shipping e-commerce store, no US federal income tax will apply provided it's structured in a certain way. If I make sure my website T&Cs state that the title passes to the customer at point of purchase (while goods are still outside the US), and my website server is not in the US, it should negate even the need to file a federal tax return (though apparently some people do this as a precaution anyway). Will still need to file a return in the state of incorporation, and deal with state sales taxes.

But at least US federal tax won't be an issue, which was the main thing I was concerned with. I'll be able to remit to Singapore directly and pay taxes here at the personal rates.

On the working in Singapore side, he was of the opinion that if I get an LTVP I could incorporate in Singapore if I wanted to, and get an LOC to work for it while residing here. Apparently this happens all the time and he's helped many LTVP holders do this. Another suggestion was to register a Singapore entity which could own the LLC, as an extra layer of asset protection and privacy.

I brought up the idea of getting the products made here in Singapore vs. China, which will be more expensive but having dealt with Chinese suppliers before I think it will greatly reduce the QC and miscommunication issues. If I went with just the US entity, he thinks a case could be made that I'd still just be working on a foreign-owned e-commerce business, provided the products weren't intended for sale in Singapore, but MOM might/might not want to have a discussion about it at some point. If through a Singapore entity, he suggested setting it up in a duty free zone to avoid GST, and with an LOC there'd be no ambiguity about whether products could or couldn't be made here.

I was surprised to hear that it's apparently so easy for an LTVP holder to set up a company and get an LOC to work for it. There's been so much said on this board about how much work it is to get an EP for your own company, I'd have thought this was the sort of loophole MOM would have closed by now?

Anyway neither option will work until I can legally stay in Singapore, so I'm off to get officially de facto married in Australia next week (oh the romance! :love:). Will update again with how the application goes.

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Re: Working Remotely from Singapore as a Tax Resident - which pass/structure?

Postby PNGMK » Thu, 08 Mar 2018 5:06 pm

Since your post I have run into a friend who is Canadian. He resides in the USA but is not a green card holder. He originally went in via the Nafta investor program. He uses a multiple of companies around the world and pays no US income tax unless the payment is taxed at sourced. I asked him how he pays himself out of his Wy. entity and he stated he issues loans to himself on a rotating basis which are then paid off from income outside that LLC. Good for thought. He also recommends Estonia and Gibraltar as entity countries but doesn't have the payment gateway issue you do. He has no personal bank accounts in the USA and manages to avoid being resident for tax there. So it is possible but he suggested as you have picked up that you should have the Wy. entity owned by another entity from outside the USA.
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