Singaporeans could face higher wealth taxes

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Singapore poorSingapore could see higher taxes on cars, property and possibly personal income as the issue is on the agenda of February’s budget meeting that focuses on a greater redistribution of wealth.

Economists say the three main themes of the 2013 budget are likely to remain in place this year: raising productivity levels, restructuring the economy and implementing a progressive tax regime.

And the last one in particular is likely to be in the spotlight amid a growing focus on the high cost of living and wide gap between rich and poor in the Southeast Asian financial hub. Singapore has one of the biggest wealth gaps in the developed world. Its Gini coefficient – which measures the degree of inequality within a country where zero is complete equality and one is maximum inequality – rose to 0.478 last year, the highest among advanced economies, apart from Hong Kong.

The city state, which last month witnessed a rare incident of rioting, also ranks as the world’s seventh most expensive city in Expatistan’s Cost of Living index, which is compiled from prices submitted by users of its online cost of living calculator. High living costs are a major concern for the young, a survey published last week by Singapore Polytechnic found.

Taxing the island’s wealthy residents was one of a number of topics discussed on the government’s pre-budget feedback forum. In 2013, the government introduced higher property taxes on investment and high-end owner occupied homes. Luxury cars were also taxed more.

Economists say it is a balancing act for the government: showing that it is keen to address wealth inequality while maintaining the country’s appeal to foreign businesses on which it relies to fuel economic growth given the local population’s aging demographics.

In Singapore, the top individual income tax rate is currently 20 per cent – much lower than in many other developed economies. In Japan for instance, the highest income tax rate is 50 per cent. There’s also likely to be supportive measures for those on lower incomes, analysts said. Earlier this month, Singapore moved to set an entry-level minimum wage of S$1,000 for its cleaners.The budget will be delivered by Singapore’s Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on February 21.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Singapore could see higher taxes on cars, property and possibly personal income as the issue is on the agenda of February’s budget meeting that focuses on a greater redistribution of wealth.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Singapore poorSingapore could see higher taxes on cars, property and possibly personal income as the issue is on the agenda of February’s budget meeting that focuses on a greater redistribution of wealth.

Economists say the three main themes of the 2013 budget are likely to remain in place this year: raising productivity levels, restructuring the economy and implementing a progressive tax regime.

And the last one in particular is likely to be in the spotlight amid a growing focus on the high cost of living and wide gap between rich and poor in the Southeast Asian financial hub. Singapore has one of the biggest wealth gaps in the developed world. Its Gini coefficient – which measures the degree of inequality within a country where zero is complete equality and one is maximum inequality – rose to 0.478 last year, the highest among advanced economies, apart from Hong Kong.

The city state, which last month witnessed a rare incident of rioting, also ranks as the world’s seventh most expensive city in Expatistan’s Cost of Living index, which is compiled from prices submitted by users of its online cost of living calculator. High living costs are a major concern for the young, a survey published last week by Singapore Polytechnic found.

Taxing the island’s wealthy residents was one of a number of topics discussed on the government’s pre-budget feedback forum. In 2013, the government introduced higher property taxes on investment and high-end owner occupied homes. Luxury cars were also taxed more.

Economists say it is a balancing act for the government: showing that it is keen to address wealth inequality while maintaining the country’s appeal to foreign businesses on which it relies to fuel economic growth given the local population’s aging demographics.

In Singapore, the top individual income tax rate is currently 20 per cent – much lower than in many other developed economies. In Japan for instance, the highest income tax rate is 50 per cent. There’s also likely to be supportive measures for those on lower incomes, analysts said. Earlier this month, Singapore moved to set an entry-level minimum wage of S$1,000 for its cleaners.The budget will be delivered by Singapore’s Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on February 21.

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