Tag Archive | GST voucher

GST voucher: why I don’t buy explanation

I find it difficult to understand or accept the explanation (see letter below) given by Ministry of Finance’s Lim Bee Khim on why Singaporeans living in homes with annual values exceeding $20,000 won’t be given the GST voucher.

I don’t think it’s fair or equitable to exclude persons living in such households if they have zero or close to zero-income and own absolutely no assets and certainly not the place that they call home.

What’s so difficult in locating who these people are?

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore would have all the records of the property owners and tax payers.

In my view, persons living in a property with AV above $20,000 and having no active tax records with IRAS should be given the GST voucher, especially when they are elderly Singaporeans.

By with-holding the benefit from them, it seems to me the Government is suggesting (perhaps unintentionally) that these people are tax dodgers or otherwise have hidden wealth 😦

Of cos I’ve got vested interest in this as my 87-year-old mother lives with me. She’s not owned a property for more than 20 years and the price at which she sold her own home back then can’t buy her even a two-room flat today.

Yet poor mum has been excluded in the 2012 Budget touted as an “inclusive” budget by some. Not for my mum, it ain’t! 🙄  A point I had made here already. But worth making again and again for all those asset-nil and cash-poor elderly like mum.



GST Vouchers: Why annual value of homes is used as a criterion

WE THANK Mr Tan Chee Tiong (‘Fairer way to offer GST Vouchers’, see letter below), who suggested that we use income (including rental income) as the sole basis for who should benefit from the GST Voucher scheme.

The GST Voucher scheme is meant to help less well-off Singaporeans. To distinguish them from the better-off Singaporeans, the criteria for the GST Voucher use both a person’s individual income and the annual value of his home.

The annual value of $20,000 means that 80 per cent of homes in Singapore are covered, including low-value private property. Those who own a second property are not eligible for the GST Voucher.

The use of both income and annual value criteria is by no means perfect, but provides us with a fair basis to take a person’s income and wealth into consideration.

Among Singaporeans with the same incomes, those who live in private homes are generally better off than those who live in HDB homes. Likewise, those with no income (such as retirees and housewives) living in higher-end homes are generally better off than those with no income living in HDB homes.

Nonetheless, we understand that even those living in homes in the top 20 per cent of the annual value range can experience instances of financial hardship. Other forms of community support such as ComCare can be applied flexibly to help them.

We will review the criteria for the GST Voucher scheme regularly to take into account changes to Singaporeans’ income and property values.

Lim Bee Khim (Ms)

Director (Corporate Communications)

Ministry of Finance


Fairer way to offer GST Vouchers

WHILE the GST Voucher scheme includes Singaporeans living in lower-end private properties, the latter qualify only if the annual value of their homes amounts to $20,000 or lower (‘3-part GST Voucher scheme for the needy’; Feb 18).

My concern is that because the annual value is an estimated yearly market rent if the property were to be let out, it will fluctuate according to what the market dictates.

I live in a mass-market condominium in the east, which is supposedly low-end. Its annual value has fluctuated from $21,600 in 2009 to $25,200 this year, dipping in between to below $20,000 in 2010.

So, if the GST Vouchers had been introduced in 2009, I would have received them only in 2010 while I would be deemed ineligible in 2009 or this year, because I was ostensibly well off.

But the reality is that I am getting poorer as the years go by because of higher inflation and low bank interest rates.

Last year, I had to opt for early retirement because of poor health. So, for low-end owner-occupier private property owners like me, the fluctuation in annual values of our homes affects our entitlements.

As long as one occupies the property and does not rent it out, the annual value does not bring additional income.

In fact, a higher annual value above $20,000 becomes a liability to our dependants living in the property. The retiree, homemaker, siblings or children who earn low salaries may deserve help but will not qualify for the GST Voucher scheme.

Furthermore, retirees and homemakers often have no income of their own.

By contrast, there are HDB dwellers who are well-off, with many of the bigger unit owners owning luxury cars.

So, I suggest that the basis for determining the scheme’s entitlement should be one’s income plus rental earned for those who own additional property.

It may also be timely to recognise that homemakers and retirees, who have been left out of Budget handouts for many years, deserve an extra bonus.

Tan Chee Tiong


Budget 2012: my mum’s been excluded…

… at least from the GST voucher, thanks to her living with me! I happen to live in a large though very run down apartment that for some strange reason the property tax folks deem to have a huge annual rental value for calculating property tax.

It disappoints me that the Government with its large and comprehensive database can’t sieve out the nil-asset owning, nil-income generating dependents from the person who owns the home and then give the dependents a share of this particular budget goodie.

This is especially when Budget 2012 is supposed to be inclusive and particularly elderly friendly and my mum is — I’m so blessed — 86 going on 87.

Which brings me to the $120 grant for seniors who aren’t able to cope by themselves. Based on the criteria as spelt out in the Straits Times, my mum probably won’t qualify for this either.

She can still feed herself, brush her teeth and use the toilet on her own — never mind that she only fulfils these tasks with much prompting.

And she can’t shower herself, even with much prompting, as her mind can’t process what must be done with the water and the soap after she’s undressed. Also, as she hangs for dear life with both hands on the grab bar to support her wobbly legs, how could she soap or rinse herself?

Furthermore, she’s been on Arricept, Exsalon and now Mermentine for close to six years — and that as any geriatrician would tell you ain’t meant to increase her appetite. 😆

Perhaps she will benefit from the lifting of Medishield coverage from 85 to 90? But since she’s been booted out in 2010 when she turned 85 — what a nasty birthday present! — would she be invited to rejoin now she’s 2 months short of 87?

Or would she be asked to pay up for the two years she was without coverage in order to get back into the plan? If the latter, then I will say thanks but no thanks as it wasn’t her wish to get off Medishield in the first place. She was pushed out as she had reached the age limit of Medishield then.

I look forward to learning more from the upcoming Budget debate where exactly my mother stands in the latest “bonanza” for the elderly and then decide if the Budget has been that inclusive after all — at least where my mum’s concerned!