Developing International Tax Expertise essential to Singapore’s role as a global business hub

5 April 2013

The Asia-Pacific Regional Tax Conference to discuss current taxation issues in the Asia-Pacific region took place on 2 April 2013.

In the opening speech at the Conference, which was jointly organised by the Tax Academy of Singapore & IFA Singapore, the Minister of State for Finance And Transport, Mrs Josephine Teo, talked about what Singapore is doing to facilitate international business growth and cross border transactions, and urged the Tax Academy to be the catalyst for Singapore to become the regional centre of excellence in tax education and leading regional tax knowledge hub.

Mrs Teo pointed out that MNCs in Singapore are taking advantage of their proximity to emerging economies to expand their regional presence. In addition, Singapore companies are also expanding internationally. While Singapore has a wide treaty network to overcome instances of double taxation, in order to promote international business growth and cross border transactions, Mrs Teo said: “treaties alone are not enough and implementation matters just as much.” With the imposition of stricter penalties and documentation requirements, as well as increased audit activities, transfer pricing has now become a leading risk management issue for cross-border businesses.

In line with Singapore’s commitment to support real and substantive businesses operating in a cross-border context, Mrs Teo informed attendees that the “IRAS intends to deepen its transfer pricing capability to assist businesses with cross-border transfer pricing issues.” Since 2006, the IRAS has put in place guidelines to help businesses better understand their transfer pricing risks, and to adopt sound practices that will manage their risks of double taxation. Businesses can approach the IRAS to seek upfront tax certainty on their pricing arrangements through Advance Pricing Arrangements. The IRAS also helps businesses resolve cross-border transfer pricing disputes through the Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) with Singapore’s treaty partners.

In order to promote investments and to help Singapore companies internationalise, Mrs Teo stressed the importance of growing international tax expertise within Singapore. On that note, she encouraged the Tax Academy to “contribute to this important effort by providing a platform for tax practitioners, government officials and academics to share their experiences and deepen their knowledge.”

Source: Ministry of Finance