The administrative objection process has been streamlined from 1 January 2014.
If a taxpayer disagrees with an issued assessment, they may lodge an objection against the assessment.
An objection can be filed either through a prescribed objection questionnaire or electronically via the IRAS e-service. IRAS has updated ‘e-services’ and published new user guides for the companies seeking to revise their filings or to file an objection to assessment.
As was the case previously, the objection may also be filed by letter or email, but the tax authorities will issue a notice of receipt and validity only if the objection is filed through the prescribed questionnaire or IRAS e-service. The objection must state the precise grounds on which it is being made. The following must be included:
- The year of assessment;
- Description of the item(s) under objection;
- Amount of income/deduction for each item under objection; and
- Reason explaining why deduction/ allowance/ relief ought to be allowed/ or the income should not be subject to tax.
In order to expedite the review process, the following should be submitted with the objection:
- Proposed tax adjustments with revised income tax computation; and
- Supporting information/documents.
The notice of objection must be received within 30 days of the issuance of the notice of assessment. The time limit is extended to 2 months for objections to notice of assessment issued on or after 1 January 2014. Additional time may be granted by the tax authorities on a case-by-case basis. Acknowledgment of receipt of an objection by the tax authorities will be made within 14 days. If no objection is made within the time limit, the assessment will be considered final.
Upon receiving an objection, the tax authority may request additional information from the taxpayer. Such information should be supplied within 2 months. Also, in some cases, the tax authorities may request to meet with the taxpayer in person.
Generally, a final decision will be made with 6 months of the final correspondence with the taxpayer. If any request for information is not complied with within 2 years, a notice of refusal to amend will be issued by the authorities.
If the objection is accepted, the decision will be sent to the taxpayer in writing and the assessment will be amended. The amended assessment is final.
If the objection is not accepted, a notice of refusal to amend will be issued.
Regardless of objection by a taxpayer, any taxes due must be paid within 30 days of the issuance of the notice of assessment.
If the taxpayer is not satisfied with a notice of refusal to amend, they can appeal the notice of refusal with the Income Tax Board of Review.
A written notice of appeal must be made to the secretary of Board of Review within 30 days of the issuance of a notice of refusal.
Objection to members of the board cannot exceed 1/3 of the total members.
Within 30 days following the lodging of the notice of appeal, a petition of appeal stating the grounds for appeal must be made to the secretary of the Board of Review. Lodging of the petition includes an SGD 250 deposit, which is refundable if the appeal is successful. Following the lodging of the petition, a notice for the hearing of appeal will be provided 14 days prior to the hearing.
If notice or petition of appeals is not lodged within the required time period, the Chairman of the Board can allow an appeal to be made if the taxpayer provides reasonable cause for the delay, such as absence from Singapore or sickness, or other reasonable causes accepted by the Chairman of the Board. The same applies to the postponement of the hearing of the appeal.
The decision of the Board of Review is final if no question of law is involved.
If the taxpayer or tax authority is not satisfied with the determination of the Board of Review, an appeal may be made to the High Court. Grounds for an appeal to the High Court are limited to a question of law or a mixed question of law and fact. Grounds based solely on the question of fact will not be accepted.
Based on the decision of the High Court, the taxpayer or tax authority can make a final appeal to the Singapore Court of Appeal. The decision of the Court of Appeal is final.