Buy Things From Overseas Still Need To Pay GST!? Why Is That So?

As per our Customs Act: “Any fraudulent evasion of GST: A fine of up to 20 times the amount of tax evaded and/ or up to two years’ jail.”

On the local news, a 25-year-old Singaporean woman was arrested for failure to declare GST payment for SGD11,000 worth of branded handbags and accessories she had bought from Paris.

She had attempted to exit Changi Airport through the Green Channel “Nothing to Declare” without making the declaration.

Are we unware or are confused about this?

It appears that many Singaporeans are still unaware of or are still confused by this requirement to declare goods bought overseas and we need to pay GST.

So, here are some frequently asked questions for paying GST after you come back from overseas:

1. What type of purchases are subjected to the 7% GST?

All goods brought into Singapore are subjected to 7% GST. (Unless it is an exempt import. Please check this link for reference: https://www.iras.gov.sg/irashome/GST/GST-registered-businesses/Working-out-your-taxes/Importing-of-Goods/#title2)

GST is, hence, a tax on local consumption.

2. Are there methods of importing goods into Singapore that will be exempt from GST?

The method of goods being brought into Singapore does not matter. They can be imported through commercial shipments or hand-carried by travellers arriving on commercial flights for their OWN personal use.

3. Is GST a norm?

Goods Service Tax (GST) was first implemented in Singapore in April 1, 1994. In other countries, it is called Value Added Tax (VAT). There is no relief for liquor, tobacco products, petroleum and goods imported for commercial purposes.

4. What is GST relief?

GST purchases valued below SGD150 is not applicable for travellers who are out of Singapore for less than 48 hours.

For those who are away for more than 48 hours, GST is exempt for goods valued up to SGD600.

5. GST relief example:

For example, if you’ve travelled away from Singapore for a week or more and have bought SGD500 worth of goods, you would not need to pay GST since you are eligible for GST relief of up to SGD600 in purchases.

However, if you purchased SGD800 worth of goods on that week-long trip, you would be required to pay 7% GST on the excess of SGD200 (i.e. SGD800-SGD600=SGD200, the SGD600 will be eligible for GST relief).

6. Are all eligible for GST relief?

Holders of a work permit, employment pass, student pass, dependent pass or long-term pass issued by the Singapore government and crew members are not eligible for GST relief. Therefore, any purchase that are made must pay GST.

7. No receipts to show the value of my purchases. How?

If there are no receipts or lost, the value of the purchases will be assessed as according to the value of identical or similar goods when computing the GST that is payable.

8. What happens if anyone is caught for not declaring goods purchased abroad?

Travellers who are stopped at the checkpoints for not declaring goods purchased abroad for GST payment will be referred to Singapore Customs.

The GST due is collected from the travellers.

A failure to declare the value of your purchases is an offence under the Customs Act and the GST Act.

Under the Customs Act: Any person found guilty of fraudulent evasion of GST will be liable to a fine up to 20 times the amount of tax evaded and/ or be jailed for up to two years.

9. If a traveller buys a bag from the duty-free in Changi Airport and departs from Singapore, will the bag be taxed when arriving back to Singapore?

The purchased bag will be subject to 7% GST if it exceeds the one’s GST relief amount.

10. Are the items still subject to GST even if the price tag and packaging are removed?

Yes! They are still considered new and are subject to GST — as long as the traveller’s GST relief amount is exceeded when the new items are brought into Singapore.

11. If sales tax are already paid for an item in overseas and did not claim tax rebate, do we still have to pay GST?

GST is applicable for items imported into Singapore regardless of whether foreign sales tax was paid for the items overseas, as the items will be consumed in Singapore.

12. Are items that are shipped into Singapore subjected to GST?

For goods imported by post, a GST relief amount of up to S$400 per shipment is granted. GST is payable on the total value of the shipment, if the total value exceeds S$400.

13. When do we have to declare and pay GST?

Answer is everytime. Travellers should declare and pay GST for their purchases at the Singapore Customs Tax Payment office at the checkpoints. An advance declaration through the [email protected] mobile app is also available for travellers who wish to declare and pay taxes before arriving in Singapore. This app will generate an e-receipt that can be stored in the traveller’s mobile phone as a proof of your declaration and tax payment.

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