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Am I subject to Singapore tax? I have never set foot there.

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romanv
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Am I subject to Singapore tax? I have never set foot there.

Postby romanv » Sun, 31 May 2009 10:13 pm

:???:

Hello

I hope someone can answer this question, or point me in the direction of where I can get an answer.

I work offshore on various ships, and I mostly work around the Brazlian coast or GOM.

I am an employee of a company in Singapore, though this set up is, I believe, for tax reasons by my company.

My company's main offices are in Aberdeen and Norway. I have been living in Thailand for the last few years, I have decided that I want to apply for expat status from the UK from last year (2008-2009).

My tax accountant told me to find out if this will effect my tax status in Singapore as there is a tax treaty.

So will I be liable to Singapore tax in this situation? I am obviously hoping not!

I have read the IRAS site but it is not clear about my situation. Do I fall under the 60 day exemption rule?

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Postby Strong Eagle » Sun, 31 May 2009 11:25 pm

Where do you get paid, that is, in what currency and into a bank in what country do you receive your paycheck? And, of secondary, but nonetheless important status, what is your nationality and passport. Do you have a contact that stipulates payment terms... where, currency, etc?

This information is needed to render an opinion (non legal of course).

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Postby romanv » Mon, 01 Jun 2009 10:54 am

I am a British ciitizen, with a British passport. I dont remember what my contract says about payment terms, I am at work and cannnot look it up.

I am paid in sterling into a UK bank.

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Postby Strong Eagle » Mon, 01 Jun 2009 11:08 am

romanv wrote:I am a British ciitizen, with a British passport. I dont remember what my contract says about payment terms, I am at work and cannnot look it up.

I am paid in sterling into a UK bank.


I am not a lawyer and have no special skills in income tax law. Now:

Under Singapore law you would not need to report this income as it is earned outside of Singapore and taxed outside of Singapore. Simply working for a Singapore company does not imply a tax consequence, it is where the money is earned and paid.

http://www.iras.gov.sg/irasHome/page04.aspx?id=104

As you can see from the above page, you can actually receive money in Singapore without tax consequences.

Its just a thought... and... have you ever thought about applying for a work permit in Singapore since you work for a Singapore company? Your personal income tax would be a lot less than the UK.

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Postby Zeenit » Mon, 01 Jun 2009 2:07 pm

Strong Eagle wrote:
romanv wrote:I am a British ciitizen, with a British passport. I dont remember what my contract says about payment terms, I am at work and cannnot look it up.

I am paid in sterling into a UK bank.


I am not a lawyer and have no special skills in income tax law. Now:

Under Singapore law you would not need to report this income as it is earned outside of Singapore and taxed outside of Singapore. Simply working for a Singapore company does not imply a tax consequence, it is where the money is earned and paid.

http://www.iras.gov.sg/irasHome/page04.aspx?id=104

As you can see from the above page, you can actually receive money in Singapore without tax consequences.

Its just a thought... and... have you ever thought about applying for a work permit in Singapore since you work for a Singapore company? Your personal income tax would be a lot less than the UK.



Not to be liable for UK tax you can only be in the UK for 90 days per tax year including weekends. So if this person is based in the UK it will not help their tax liability.
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Postby romanv » Mon, 01 Jun 2009 5:45 pm

income as it is earned outside of Singapore and taxed outside of Singapore


Thank you guys for your input. Its still as clear as mud though. :D

All this happening as I want to stop paying tax in the UK, as I dont live there anymore.

I dont mind paying for a clear interpretation. Anyone know a company to which I can direct this enquiry?[/quote]
Last edited by romanv on Mon, 01 Jun 2009 5:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Zeenit » Mon, 01 Jun 2009 5:51 pm

romanv wrote:Thank you guys for your input. Its still as clear as mud though. :D

All this happening as I want to stop paying tax in the UK, as I dont live there anymore.

I dont mind paying for a clear interpretation. Anyone know a company to which I can direct this enquiry?


Please tell me where you work, live all the time or if you live in the UK how many days per year. And where do you receive your salary.......which country. Sorry to ask again but you have told us THE UK on all points.
We can only help if we know the above points.
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Postby romanv » Mon, 01 Jun 2009 6:10 pm

^ its in the OP.

I appreciate it may be confusing, I dont think this is a common situation, though these days it must be becoming increasingly widespread.

To summarise:

I am a British citizen. (only in UK for short trips to see my family/friends)

I live in Thailand (about 5 months a year)

I work for a Singapore company though I imagine all it is is an office with a rather lonely secretary sitting there.

I work offshore on ships, mainly in Brazil and Gulf of Mexico, for the oil and gas industry. (about 6 months a year)

Salary receievd in sterling into a UK bank in the UK.

I wish to apply to beocme non-resident in the UK for tax purposes.

If I succeed in doing the above, do I pay Singapore tax?

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Postby Strong Eagle » Mon, 01 Jun 2009 6:34 pm

romanv wrote:
income as it is earned outside of Singapore and taxed outside of Singapore


Thank you guys for your input. Its still as clear as mud though. :D

All this happening as I want to stop paying tax in the UK, as I dont live there anymore.

I dont mind paying for a clear interpretation. Anyone know a company to which I can direct this enquiry?
[/quote]

Frankly, I have yet to find any reasonably priced accounting firm or lawyering office in Singapore that actually knows anything about international tax laws and tax treaties. They are not worth a bucket of warm spit. You could go to PWC and pay a couple of thousand for advice... which would be good, OR:

a) Contact the British embassy in Singapore (or elsewhere, although I think the SG embassy will be more familiar). Explain your situation. Get an opinion. Get them to give it to you in writing if you can. What I think you will find is this: As long as you are not resident in the UK all the income you earn outside the UK is not subject to UK tax so long as it has been subjected to some other jurisdiction's tax policy. Note that even if you do not live in the UK, if you have rental properties, investments, or other sources of income in the UK, they will still be subject to UK tax no matter where you live. I think though, that key to this whole line of reasoning is that you cannot receive your pay in the UK, otherwise it is subject to UK taxation.

It seems to me that you need to establish a permanent residence for more than 5 months per year because I know that Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and others have some variation of the 183 day rule to be considered a resident for tax purposes. So, one question to ask other agencies is how you qualify for full time living when away so much. Perhaps SMS can shed some light.

You don't say how it is you can live in Thailand for 5 months... I suspect you are under the radar. If you are legally entitled to live in Thailand, then you should be paying Thai tax for money received in Thailand, which, while not as good as Singapore, is still better than the UK.

If you are not legally entitled to live in Thailand, then you've got a bit of a problem and and a bird's nest on the ground, I suppose. From what I know you need to have a legal presence in Thailand in order to open a bank account. You have that, no problem... you don't have, you have no place to get paid.

Which brings me back to Singapore. Any reason your company would not file for an EP for you? With that work permit you could open a bank account and pay Singapore taxes and be legally entitled to have residence in Singapore. With that handled, you could pretty much continue to live and work as you do now... the key is that you are required to work for a Singapore firm and pay Singapore taxes.

So...

b) I'd contact your employer and the Ministry of Manpower to see that you could get an EP.

c) I'd contact IRAS (Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore) to confirm your tax status.

d) Make it happen.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Mon, 01 Jun 2009 6:50 pm

It's the age old tax dodge that Brits have been trying to do for years. Lot's of them incorporated in the Channel Island or Some other offshore island trying to avoid the British tax system. There apparently is a way to go about it. But Singapore isn't it. While working in the oil fields, it's easy to live in places like Thailand, that's why so many do. But I don't think it changes you tax status (Could possible do depending on the 183 day rule if it's valid up there). It's not so much flying under the radar as you work rotations of one or two months on and one month off. Normally you go into a country like Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, the 'peens and get a 30 day visa (in my day - now apparently 90 for a lot is possible in some countries like Singapore). After 4 weeks+ you rotate back onto the supply vessel, drilling rig, FPSO or whatever type of standby vessel you are on. You money is paid into any account you name. I worked that way for 11 years. I went for 10 years without ever stepping foot in the US at all (but it's different with the US as you cannot avoid you taxes as you are taxed on your world wide income). So, while I had one local wife, two local children, and three Singapore registered cars (and a bike) I lived here solely on a tourist visa for 11 years be fore applying for PR. I still cannot avoid my US taxes (aside from the 2555 that is). Oh, for the record, the company I worked for was a Singapore registered entity of the largest Diving company in the world at that time. But it was a US parent company. I got my jobs from the Singapore Office, Air Tickets and US dollar paycheck from the local office, but as I did not perform any "work" in Singapore, I wasn't required to have an EP nor would they get me one as it wasn't required to work in other countries regardless of where the vessel is registered. (The only time that would change is if the vessel was working inside Singapore's waters).

But, I know nothing about the British tax structure so SE's advice re the embassy is probably the way to go.

sms

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Postby romanv » Mon, 01 Jun 2009 7:00 pm

^I just read your post. I am working in a very similar situation to you. You have nailed it pretty much, only difference is that I am in Thailand and you atre in Singapore.

Thank you SE

Some foood for thought there. If I read you correctly, I cannot become non-resident in the Uk for tax as i receive my income there and to to establish a residence outside UK I need to get income in that country. I will have to look into that.

I should have known it wasn't going to be easy.

Just to be clear I am legally in Thailand. I used to come in on tourist visas or get the visa exempt stamp, but these days I am on the Non immigrant Ó' type visa, which is multi entry and good for a year, but is no good for work so the Thai govt. doesnt expect any tax from me.

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Postby Zeenit » Mon, 01 Jun 2009 7:36 pm

The Channel Isles is now a closed door. Uk residents over used that loop hole.
You cant move your tax liability until you find a country to move it to. No fancy Tax Lawyer can do anything for you but will take your money.....believe me.
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Postby Strong Eagle » Mon, 01 Jun 2009 7:46 pm

Zeenit wrote:The Channel Isles is now a closed door. Uk residents over used that loop hole.
You cant move your tax liability until you find a country to move it to. No fancy Tax Lawyer can do anything for you but will take your money.....believe me.


Yes, I think that is exactly the point. And if I were the OP, working for a Singapore company, I'd want to explore what it takes to obtain legal residence in Singapore. I think an EP would do it, and that would be about the first place I'd start. The OP could even sweeten the pot (assuming he would qualify under Singapore law... with less taxes paid he could strike a deal for a slightly smaller salary... and everybody comes out ahead.

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Postby jpatokal » Tue, 02 Jun 2009 9:51 am

You may also want to Google "Perpetual traveler" for a motley collection of sites purporting to explain how you can live tax-free by not being a resident anywhere. Just sprinkle salt liberally on all free advice...
Vaguely heretical thoughts on travel technology at Gyrovague


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