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Tax residency and working remotely, away from Singapore

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Myasis Dragon
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Re: Tax residency and working remotely, away from Singapore

Post by Myasis Dragon » Fri, 20 Nov 2020 8:54 am

theboomboom wrote:
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 11:56 am
Thanks Myasis Dragon. PNGMK is correct, I don't intend to leave Singapore and settle down elsewhere while retaining tax residency here. I know that is not possible. Instead, given that I am permanently WFH, I want to spend some time in other countries on tourist visas. Say spend a month or two maybe in Malaysia, then three months in Singapore and then two months back in my home country in the Netherlands, you get the idea. Basically, be more nomadic with a base in Singapore.

If I do this, I'll likely forego my lease in Singapore and stay either in Serviced Apartments or with my in-laws when I am back. To help me, my company is willing to put in a letter for secondment, but I am not sure how that works and if there are ifs and buts attached to that. Right now I am under the impression that I can do this provided I am in Singapore for >183 days, but I don't know what will happen if I spend less time here and don't settle down anywhere else. This will put me in a legal tight spot as I won't be a tax resident in Singapore, nor elsewhere, and technically avoiding taxes. This will bring its own sets of problems and is something I am looking to avoid.
Then, so long as you remain employed by your company, and so long as MoM continues to issue you an EP to work for that company, then you will always be tax resident in Singapore.

You would only be considered as non tax-resident if, for example, your company brought you over for five months. You would get a five month EP and be subject to non-resident tax. But your EP gives you residency status otherwise.

Things get substantially more cloudy when it comes to taxation in the country in which you are actually living. As others have noted, there are plenty of people who travel extensively and are out of Singapore for most of the week, if not more. But, they are also in other countries for short periods of time and don't worry about the tax situation.

If you're living in a country for longer periods of time, then things change. I offer you the following from my experience.

I had an American who worked exclusively in Kuala Lumpur. He used my home address in Singapore and was on EP. I paid him into a Singapore bank account. He was able to stay in KL for extended periods of time because my company rented the apartment. He paid his taxes in Singapore. This was technically illegal as he was working full time in KL, contracted into a KL company.

I kept an apartment in KL for about 18 months, again, rented by my company. I flew between Singapore and KL at least once a week, and although I had about about a 100 Malaysian immigration stamps in my passport, never once was I asked why I traveled back and forth so much. I thoroughly overstayed any 90 day social pass, and should have gotten a work permit (I had a Malaysian company, didn't want the financial obligation of applying for a work permit).

My view is that if you are working remotely for your Singapore company, you affect nothing in the country in which you are working, and you will not be found out... if there were to be any issue in the first place.

I will counter this with one more example. I had one employee working for my Thai company under a work permit (a million Baht deposit commitment). I had another employee that was on EP in Singapore to my company who flew back and forth, spending 3 to 5 days each week in Thailand. One night, she flew back, and being a slow night, the immigration official determined that she had spent 93 days out of 180 already and refused her entry to the country.

theboomboom
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Re: Tax residency and working remotely, away from Singapore

Post by theboomboom » Fri, 20 Nov 2020 11:53 am

Thanks all for the very helpful responses!

The consensus seems to be that having an EP makes you eligible for tax in Singapore by definition. MOM/IRAS doesn't really care how long you are in Singapore, provided you have an address and pay your taxes. When travelling to another country, I don't intend to overstay any tourist visa, so I don't think I should face any issues with being permitted into a country. I also can't stay too long back in my home country as my spouse would be on a tourist visa and staying there would make me a tax resident there (which I want to avoid).

I'll retain my bank account here and will remain working for the same company (for the foreseeable future). With regard to having an SG residence, I don't think there should be any issues having my registration with my in-laws, right? Even if I were to rent Serviced Apartments in the intermittent periods I'll be here.

Regarding the travel periods, I intend to do this only some time in 2022, I am hoping that by then the travel restrictions ease up. Also, my EP would have been renewed by then so that shouldn't be an issue either.

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PNGMK
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Re: Tax residency and working remotely, away from Singapore

Post by PNGMK » Fri, 20 Nov 2020 2:29 pm

I think you're going to be ok BoomBoom. Yes - your inlaws address is a good place to register with ICA.
I not lawyer/teacher/CPA.
You've been arrested? Law Society of Singapore can provide referrals.
You want an International School job? School website or http://www.ISS.edu
Your rugrat needs a School? Avoid for profit schools
You need Tax advice? Ask a CPA
You ran away without doing NS? Shame on you!

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malcontent
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Re: Tax residency and working remotely, away from Singapore

Post by malcontent » Fri, 20 Nov 2020 5:30 pm

I don’t believe that holding EP confers tax residency, but it does tie you to Singapore employment which confers a tax liability, regardless of the pass you hold and whether you qualify as a tax resident here or not.

Being liable to pay Singapore income tax does not exempt you from being liable to taxation in other countries, so you still need to look at the tax residency rules that apply in each country you intend to spend meaningful amounts of time in to be sure.

theboomboom
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Re: Tax residency and working remotely, away from Singapore

Post by theboomboom » Fri, 20 Nov 2020 6:30 pm

Pretty clear. Thanks for the replies!

robertcladner55
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Re: Tax residency and working remotely, away from Singapore

Post by robertcladner55 » Thu, 26 Nov 2020 10:02 pm

theboomboom wrote:
Mon, 16 Nov 2020 1:06 am
Sorry, if this question has been asked, but I searched for quite a bit and couldn't find anything relating to my question.

The pandemic has changed my company's view on having an office, and we have set-out to be a WFH/remote-work company. My company is supportive of anyone working from anywhere, so long it is in a legal way. Given this, I am exploring the idea of being (somewhat) nomadic and working from anywhere. But I am having a hard time fully painting the picture on how I would do that legally.

My situation is that I am on an EP and married to a SC. The company is based in Singapore. Now, to be clear on this, I don't want to avoid paying taxes. If anything, I want to remain a tax resident in Singapore, but be here for only a few months a year. From the IRAS website https://www.solutioncms.com/it-outsourc ... singapore/ I understand that I will be seen as a tax resident if I am in Singapore for >183 days, and otherwise only taxed for any income I have earned in Singapore at a flat rate of 15%. Now,
  • What happens if I have an EP, but I am not in Singapore, at all. Am I still then a tax resident? If not, will I be a tax evader as I won't be a tax resident anywhere else?
  • Same question, but what if I am in Singapore for <183 days? Do I only pay taxes based on the non-resident rate while not being seen as a tax-resident?
  • Are there other ways I can remain a tax resident while being away from Singapore?
Any help, either in the form of answers or directions to whom or which organisation to contact is deeply appreciated so thanks in advance!
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