US Expat Taxes in Singapore: Your Ultimate Guide (from a CPA)

US Expat Taxes Singapore

According to the US Department of State, more than 30,000 US citizens currently live in Singapore. The futuristic city-state offers many business opportunities for expats and provides one of the highest qualities of life in the world. 

However, an aspect that can make moving to Singapore a headache is filing US taxes while overseas. In this article, we will answer the most common questions that American expats have about taxes in Singapore and what they can do to reduce their tax liability. 

Let’s get started.

Why do people want to move to Singapore? 

People often refer to Singapore as the Switzerland of Asia, and for good reason. The country’s booming economy, world-class education, and stable political environment make it an attractive destination for many expats worldwide. 

Another advantage of Singapore is the pro-business environment that makes it a top country for entrepreneurship. This country consistently ranks as the top place in the world for foreigners to do business. 

Who qualifies as a resident in Singapore? 

Whether you have to pay taxes in Singapore depends on your residency status. Singapore considers you a resident if you’ve spent at least 183 days in a tax year or are currently an employee of a company in Singapore. 

Do Americans living in Singapore have to file a US tax return? 

The answer is: yes. That’s because the United States applies citizenship-based taxation, meaning that US expats have to file their taxes yearly to the IRS, regardless of where they live. 

For many years, countless US expats weren’t aware of their tax obligations. They avoided filing their returns and they didn’t receive a call from the IRS. Since Congress passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), however, countries are now under pressure to report the financial activities of US expats on their soil. 

Read more: What is Citizenship-Based Taxation?

What are Singapore’s income tax rates? 

How much you’ll pay in taxes depends on two factors: whether you’re a resident or a non-resident in Singapore, and how much you earn. The two tables below highlight Singapore’s income tax rates.

Resident Taxes

Here’s how much you’ll pay in taxes as a resident of Singapore:

Chargeable IncomeRate (%)Gross Tax Payable (S$)
On the first 20,000
On the next 10,000
0
2
0
200
On the first 30,000
On the next 10,000
/
3.50
200
350
On the first 40,000
On the next 40,000
/
7
550
2,800
On the first 80,000
On the next 40,000
/
11.5
3,350
4,600
On the first 120,000
On the next 40,000
/
15
7,950
6,000
On the first 160,000
On the next 40,000
/
18
13,950
7,200
On the first 200,000
On the next 40,000
/
19
21,150
7,600
On the first 240,000
On the next 40,000
/
19.5
28,750
7,800
On the first 280,000
On the next 40,000
/
20
36,550
8,000
On the first 320,000
In excess of 320,000
/
22
44,550

Non-resident Taxes

On the other hand, here’s how much you’ll pay in taxes as a non-resident of Singapore:

Type of IncomeNon-resident Individual Tax Rate
Director’s remuneration22%
Income derived from activity as a non-resident professional15% of gross income
Other forms of income22%
Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) withdrawal by a non-citizen SRS member22%
Interest, royaltyReduced final withholding tax rate (subject to conditions) as follows:
Interest: 15%Royalty: 10%
OR
22% if reduced final withholding tax rate is not applicable
Pension funds22%

What are Singapore’s corporate tax rates? 

Some US expats might be interested in going to Singapore to do business there. Here’s how much they can expect to pay in corporate taxes:

IncomeIncome
Tax rate on corporate profits for up to 300,000 Singapore Dollars (SGD)8.5%
Tax rate on corporate profits above 300,000 Singapore Dollars (SGD)17%
Tax rate on capital gains accrued by the company0%
Tax rate on dividend distribution to shareholders0%
Tax rate on foreign-sourced income not brought to Singapore0%
Tax rate on foreign-sourced income brought to Singapore0 – 17% (depending on conditions)

What’s the tax-governing authority in Singapore? 

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) is the primary agency that regulates all tax-related operations in Singapore. On top of ensuring Singapore’s residents collect tax, it also frequently looks for areas of improvement in tax policy. For example, as of February 15th, 2008, the agency decided to abolish the Estate Duty tax on Singaporean residents. 

What types of forms must US expats use to file their income taxes in Singapore? 

The form you file to report your income tax in Singapore will depend on your residency and employment status. Here’s a table to help you out:

Residency StatusForm
Employed Singapore residentsForm B1
Self-employed Singapore residentsForm B
Non-residentsForm M

Remember, not filing your income tax in Singapore can lead to penalties, and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) might take legal actions against you. 

What other types of taxes does Singapore have? 

In addition to personal income and corporate taxes, here are some of the other types of taxes you’ll have to pay while living in Singapore:

Stamp Duties

You’ll pay stamp duties on various types of transfers in Singapore. These include:

Sale of Property

Here’s what the tax rate will be each time you buy a home (depending on its market value):

  • – 1% for the first 180,000 SGD of the home’s sale price
  • – 2% for the next 180,000 SGD of the home’s sale price
  • – 3% for the next 640,000 SGD of the home’s sale price
  • – 4% for any remaining part of the home’s sale price

Property Lease

If the lease of your property is higher than 1,000 SGD, you’ll also have to pay stamp duty taxes. The tax rate is 0.4% of the property’s total rent if the lease covers up to four years. For any lease that lasts more than four years, the tax rate will be 0.4% of four times the average annual rent of the lease’s period. 

Transfer of Stocks and Shares

For each sale of stocks and shares, you must pay a tax of 0.2% on the market value of your shares. 

Real Estate Tax

All residents of Singapore have to pay taxes on the value of their property, whether it be a home, some land, or a building. Here’s how real estate taxes differ based on the property that is owned:

  • Owner-occupied residential property: 0% to 16% tax rate 
  • Residential property not occupied by the owner: 10% to 20% tax rate 
  • Land and non-residential property: 10% tax rate 

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

You’ll pay 7% tax for each good and service you purchase in Singapore. The tax, however, doesn’t apply to selling residential properties, precious metals imports, or financial services.

Customs and Excise Duties

Singapore mainly imposes excise duties on tobacco, liquors, and petroleum products. On the other hand, the country imposes very few duties on products it imports. 

What are the strategies for US expats in Singapore who want to reduce their tax liability? 

The IRS offers various tax programs to help US expats in Singapore reduce their tax liability and avoid double taxation. These include: 

Foreign Tax Credit (FTC)

With the Foreign Tax Credit (FTC) program, you can claim tax credits on a dollar-for-dollar basis depending on the taxes you’re already paying in Singapore. 

For example, let’s say you owe $20,000 worth of US taxes, but you already paid $5000 in taxes in Singapore. With the Foreign Tax Credit (FTC) program, you can use the $5000 of taxes paid in Singapore, on the same income source, to reduce your US tax liability to $15,000. 

Read more: The US Foreign Tax Credit – A Complete Guide for Expats

Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE)

The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE) allows US expats to exclude their foreign earned income on their US tax returns. The maximum income they can exclude in 2022 is $112,000, with the number slightly going up each year to adjust for inflation. 

You must pass either of these tests to qualify for the FEIE: the Bona Fide Residence Test or the Physical Presence Test. Here’s how each of these two tests works:

  • Bona Fide Residence Test: You must prove your economic ties to Singapore and that you’re a tax resident there for the entire tax year January through December. 
  • Physical Presence Test: You must prove that you spent at least 330 days in Singapore, or elsewhere outside the US, throughout the tax year. 

Read more: IRS Foreign Earned Income Exclusion 2022 – Ultimate Guide

Foreign Housing Exclusion (FHE)

The Foreign Housing Exclusion (FHE) helps you exclude part of your foreign housing expenses from your gross income on your tax return. The costs you can include are the following:

  • – Rent
  • – Home repairs
  • – Occupancy taxes
  • – Leasehold fees
  • – Rental furniture
  • – Property insurance
  • – Residential parking

To benefit from the Foreign Housing Exclusion (FHE), you must be able to pass one of the same tests as the FEIE: either the Bona Fide Residence Test or the Physical Presence Test. 

Read more: The Foreign Housing Exclusion: A Brief Guide for US Expats

What’s Singapore’s Social Security system? 

Singapore has a pension program called the Central Provident Fund (CPF). However, foreigners in Singapore will only pay the CPF if they are permanent residents of Singapore. The CPF tax rates are 20% for employees and 17% for employers. 

Do US expats living in Singapore have to file an FBAR? 

The Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) is a form that many US expats must file to declare their accounts overseas. 

You only need to file the form if you possess more than $10,000 in Singaporean bank accounts, investments, or pensions, or other non-US financial accounts. To file an FBAR, you’ll be using FinCEN Form 114.

Read more: Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) Filing

How can Americans become residents in Singapore? 

Americans can choose between different options if they want to become a resident in Singapore. These different programs include:

Singapore Employment Pass

The Singapore Employment Pass allows foreigners to work in Singapore. To qualify for the Pass, you must earn at least $4,500 SGD per month while working in a managerial, executive, or specialist job in Singapore. 

Global Investor Program (GIP)

With the Global Investor Program (GIP), Americans can become residents in Singapore through investment. To qualify for the GIP, you’ll need to invest at least $2.5 million SGD into the Singapore economy or the Foreign Artistic Scheme. 

Singapore EntrePass

The Singapore EntrePass is a program that foreign serial entrepreneurs can use to claim residency in Singapore. However, the list of qualifications to benefit from the program is quite long and complex. 

For example, your company must receive at least $100,000 SGDin funding from a third-party venture capitalist or an angel investor. You must have a solid track record of successful business ventures and have a business proposal that can create local employment in Singapore. 

Need help with your US expat taxes in Singapore? 

Starting a brand new life in Singapore can be exciting. But filing your US taxes? Yeah, not so much. 

It’s important to stay on top of your US tax obligations as you adapt yourself to Singapore. But if you don’t feel like going through all the necessary paperwork to remain compliant with the IRS, Bright!Tax is here to help you. 

Thousands of American expats in over 200 countries trust our tax services, and we’ve been named Global US Expat Tax Provider of the Year five times. 

What if you’ve already been living in Singapore for quite some time but were never aware of your US tax obligations? No worries. The IRS has a program called Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures to help US expats catch up on their taxes, penalty-free. 

Contact Bright!Tax today by providing your personal details to get started. One of our CPAs will then promptly reach out to you and assess your situation. 

Register now, and your Bright!Tax CPA will be in touch right away to guide you through the next steps.

Tax Preparation winner banner for expats