Singapore—In parliament on Wednesday, May 8, Second Minister of Finance Indranee Rajah said that there are around 164,000 Singaporean adults who live on private property but who do not declare their income.
Either these individuals have no yearly income at all, or their income is not taxable, as would be the case with dividends or interests. Or, there are some among them whose income may be taxable, but they may not need to file their tax returns after factoring in tax deductions and reliefs.
It is also possible that certain individuals among them have access to other funds, such as retirees who have private savings, as well as those who are financially supported by their families, Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reports Rajah as saying.
As the government only gathers information necessary for tax administration, it has no other information about these Singaporeans.
Rajah had been responding to Lim Biow Chuan, the Mountbatten SMC MP who had asked how many Singaporean citizens live in private housing but do not declare an income.
He also asked what else could be done to ascertain the financial situation of these individuals, particularly those with no income, and who could be “genuinely poor”.
People who live in private property cannot claim government budgetary provisions including GST vouchers and government-sponsored digital TV starter kits.
Lim said that there are some in his constituency who have said that this is “inequitable.” They had also complained of feeling “disadvantaged” because they live in private housing.
The Second Minister of Finance answered by saying that there are certain social schemes in place with particular groups in view. For example, GST vouchers are intended for people with lower incomes while other initiatives are meant for those who reside in private properties.
Then, there are also packages such as the Merdeka Generation Package and Pioneer Generation Package that are meant to “give recognition” to all Singaporeans.
Therefore, it would be too much of a generalisation to say that there is nothing for them at all in the Budget,” Rajah says.
She added: “The group that Mr Lim is talking about … some of them may have financial resources like savings or non-taxable income by way of dividends or their children may be looking after them.
The challenge then is how do you identify who has no income at all and need assistance.”
However, Rajah also encouraged individuals who need assistance to apply for it.
“The ones who don’t benefit from the broad-based schemes, we would encourage them to apply (when they have) a genuine need because the system does allow for appeals and consideration of particular circumstances.
They may have specific difficulties. We will address those on a case-by-case basis.”
She added, “The assurance we can give is that those genuinely in need will not be left without assistance.”/TISG