Singapore edging towards tax transparency

Singapore is trying to shrug off its growing reputation as a tax haven and most favoured destination for hiding tax evaded money: according to a report by Reuters.

Singapore is a small city-state, but has one of the world’s highest concentrations of millionaires.   Many of course genuinely move there, attracted by a top rate of Income Tax of 20%, and the absence of any Capital Gains Tax.  But tax investigators harbour suspicions that many people merely pretend to be tax resident there.  Until recently Singapore has not shared much information with other tax jurisdictions:  making it an attractive proposition for would-be tax dodgers.   A major concern to the tax authorities in the UK is the switch of illicit funds from Switzerland to Singapore as the Swiss banks once famous banking secrecy is being eliminated, following the recent Swiss Federation Tax Agreement.  Rumours that Swiss banks are actively encouraging clients to switch funds to Singapore are also fuelling interest by HMRC investigators: who are likely to turn their sights in that direction soon.

Singapore doesn’t want to become a global banking pariah, and is taking large steps to re-focus its business proposition.   Its central bank and financial regulator, The Monetary Authority of Singapore, wants to take steps to “protect the integrity and reputation of Singapore as a trusted international financial centre”.  Over the last three years, Singapore has agreed revisions to around half of the 70 tax treaties it has with other countries.  These changes make it easier for Singapore to exchange information on possible tax evaders.  In a further ramping up of these efforts, from July 2013, any bankers that help clients evade tax face a massively increased risk prosecution for Money Laundering.  Over 40 people were convicted of Money Laundering offences in Singapore in 2010 and 2011, with some £66m being seized or frozen.  Those numbers look set to increase after July 2013.

What does this mean for me?
If you have assets outside the UK and undisclosed tax liabilities then it is becoming increasingly obvious that the world is shrinking.  Tax authorities around the world are moving at an ever quickening pace towards a complete exchange of information.  It is becoming very difficult to confidently say that anyone can hide their money in any country that has a safe banking system.

Many people are choosing the alternative of attempting to regularise their affairs in the UK by making a voluntary disclosure on favourable lines.  The Swiss Tax Agreement is one such facility.  However, for most people wishing to clean up their historic tax liabilities, and who have offshore interests, the generous Tax Amnesty known as the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility still offers the best opportunities.

Worried about an offshore bank account?
Lynam Tax Enquiry Experts have substantial experience of the key issues.  We are helping many clients and their agents with the current tax amnesty.
*For a free, private, no obligation consultation, don’t delay, call Paul Lynam today: on 0845 643 9997