Singapore Taxes : Part 3, abolish GST for bare neccessities
At Five Stars and A Moon, we are well in touch with the ground. We know that there are groups advocating the abolishment of GST for necessities.
They ask: “Why is GST imposed on bare necessities, don’t the rich eat the same as the poor?”
Let us first define “bare necessities”.
(No student has graduated without these necessities)
Lets take rice for an example. There are many types of rice. Basmati rice, Vietnamese Rice, Thai Rice, Sushi rice (or Koshihikari Rice, a premium rice from Japan) and even Organic rice. Which one should be the necessity?
The Thai Rice (most) Singaporeans consume is actually a premium rice, not at all a “necessity”.
(Rice is the bread of Asians)
A mobile phone is a necessity. So is a mattress. So is water, electricity and gas. To be able to classify, update and manage dispute of articles for tax exemption would mean IRAS setting up another department and system – this also means: someone needs to pay.
Many, many companies will want their products exempted from tax to boost sales. Tax free shampoo and conditioner anyone?
Maybe the Restroom Association of Singapore (Yes, such an organization does exist) will then want toilet cleaners, brushes and toilet paper also exempted from tax. Don’t you think GST on these products discourage “Good toilet behavior”. There will be no end to all the petitions.
Does the rich eat the same as the poor?
Even if we might eat the same amount (arguably), but how about the cost?
(the only thing fishy about this, is the price)
So if we decide to exempt fish from GST. This means the rich will save $85.68 (on this $1224 Sultan Fish) while the rest of us save a few cents from a $3.50 fish soup porridge.
Remember the GST Credits you received not too long ago?If you ran out and bought a shiny new iPhone, you’re probably not one of those that need help with taxes. This several hundred dollar cash handout by the Government is for Singaporeans to offset whatever they spend on GST, thus nullifying the tax altogether – specifically for expenditure on “basic necessities”.
In a nutshell, if we were to exempt GST from “necessities”:
1. Less overall GST collected due to people exploiting loopholes etc.
2. Rich pay much, much, much less GST while poor saves little
3. Higher cost for collecting GST including setting up GST assessment centres for new products as well as mediation and arbitration courts for GST and enforcement centres.
4. More bureaucracy, administration and difficulty of starting and running a businesses
5. GST Credits are available to help the needy nullify their GST expenditure
– Income tax is a tax on your earning power. GST is a tax on your spending power, thus can be seen as a tax on the rich.
– Instead of inefficiently spending more to create a brand new bureaucracy, this Government has decided to just give real money in the form of GST Credits for Singaporeans, needy or otherwise.
– Unless your business makes more than S$1m a year, you do not need to charge GST
– But let us not forget WHY we have GST in the first place. This tax brought in $8b to the country last year: it helped pay to keep this country running, clean streets, functioning lights, security, defense and a peace of mind for you and me.