THE tax amnesty scheme in Indonesia has had a much smaller impact on funds flowing out of Singapore's private banking industry than feared, an RHB report suggested on Tuesday.
The funds flowing out of Singapore likely made up only 1-2 per cent of assets under management (AUM) of the private banking industry. Some 79 trillion rupiah (S$8.3 billion) was repatriated in the first nine-month phase of Jakarta's tax amnesty programme.
The scheme allows Indonesians to declare assets that were previously undeclared to tax authorities. In return, they paid a sharply reduced tax rate on those assets - just 2 per cent - in the first phase, which ended on Sept 30.
The 79 trillion rupiah was 12 per cent of the assets of wealthy Indonesian clients that were declared to be kept in Singapore, according to data from the Indonesian government. Singapore has been a big draw for rich Indonesians. All in, the assets held here and declared to the Indonesian authorities made up 70 per cent of all overseas funds that had been declared.
RHB calculated that the total assets of the three Singapore banks' private banking segment stood at about S$321 billion. This means the amount repatriated to Indonesia from Singapore accounts for only 2.6 per cent of the three banks' total AUM. These already exclude the asset base of the top private banks in Singapore, such as UBS, Citi, and Credit Suisse. So, all in, the impact on Singapore's private banking industry should be about 1-2 per cent of all assets held here, RHB noted.
"There is likely to be more repatriation of funds from Singapore to Indonesia going forward, but the experience of Phase 1 suggests that the amount repatriated is unlikely to be a large percentage of Singapore banks' assets under management," it said.
This comes as the tax rate for those who repatriate their assets in Phase 2 rises to 3 per cent, one percentage point more than in Phase 1. The tax rate will be increased yet again in the third phase, Jakarta has said.
Indonesian taxpayers had declared more than 3,600 trillion rupiahs in assets both domestically and overseas. An Indonesian tax authority quoted by The Straits Times said the country had set a 4,000 trillion rupiah target for the first phase.
The tax amnesty scheme comes amid heightened scrutiny of tax evasion. Banks here had to file a suspicious transaction report on clients taking part in the programme, with the Singapore authorities later having to state publicly that participation in a tax amnesty scheme alone would not attract criminal investigation in Singapore. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said that the use of suspicious transaction reports is a practice across other jurisdictions when handling tax amnesty cases.