Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore welcomes appeals for wage offsets

The tax authority has an online form for those who wish to appeal for greater wage offsets

IRAS: working with the Ministry of Finance to help businesses through the COVID-19 crisis. Credit: IRAS

SINGAPORE - The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore has opened an e-form facility for travel agents, and other businesses, who wish to appeal for 50% or 75% co-funding under the enhanced Jobs Support Scheme (JSS).

This comes in the wake of the government's latest Solidarity Budget which was announced on Monday. This supplementary S$5.1 billion Budget aims to support households and businesses through the four-week circuit breaker period where many firms will not be able to operate or at a much-reduced level.

The budget includes higher wage offsets in April, greater eligibility for self-employed income relief, waiving foreign worker levies in April, higher rental waivers, and a S$600 cash pay-out to all citizens above 21 years old.

The earlier Resilience Budget had stated that the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) would subsidise 25% of the first $4,600 of gross monthly wages for all local employees. It had provided for higher levels of wage subsidy for sectors that are more directly hit by the outbreak - 50% for firms in the food services sector, and 75% for the aviation and tourism sectors.

With the Solidarity Budget, the government will now raise the wage subsidy for all firms to 75% of gross monthly wages, for the first $4,600 of wages paid in April 2020, for each local employee. The first pay-out will be brought forward from May to next week and the week after.

One of the companies which is receiving 25% of the JSS is appealing for help. Mr Gerard Rodrigues, managing director, EXPO AV-INSYNC, owns an AV and technical production company which is heavily involved within the MICE industry. He said: "I work alongside, as a technical production partner with Singapore Expo and Max Atria, aside from other MICE venues such as Suntec, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Singapore.

"Since the beginning of the COVID-19 (around 18 February 2020), we have seen 0% in revenue as 100% of our projects have been cancelled and a few, which were previously postponed, were cancelled as well.

"Whilst I am very grateful for the various budget releases (3rd one as of today), I strongly feel that we've still been left behind…F&B, hotels will receive 50% from May onwards and 75% for the Aviation and MICE sector. The MICE sector currently covers MICE venue owners (Singapore Expo/ Suntec etc) and other agencies, but we are left out."

Since last month, Mr Rodrigues' company has gone through a 30% pay cut with the ability to hold off at this rate for another 6-8 weeks if no further help is given after the 75% JSS pay-out this April.

He added: "Many companies in my industry might not last past April 2020. Some have already gone into complete No-Pay-Leave situations, as they no longer have the ability to sustain any form of pay-outs.

In eight weeks' time, Mr Rodrigues will consider letting his company "be dormant or close down after 14 years in the MICE business".

"Applying for the working capital loan or bridging loan may be an immediate solution, but personally, it could also be another set of problems should this world pandemic persist for the next 2-3 quarters. I do not need any debts to pile up on my plate, so at best, (will) dig into my own pockets to try and keep the company afloat," he added.

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