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