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More persons, businesses may have to pay tourism-related tax under proposed changes

THE Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) are seeking public feedback on the proposed amendments to the Singapore Tourism (Cess Collection) Act, including broadening the scope of parties liable to pay cess (or tax), and the streamlining of administrative procedures.

Currently, the Cess Act allows the STB to collect tax from tourist hotels, food establishments and public houses to fund strategic tourist events.

However, as the tourism landscape evolves, there could be more key beneficiaries of a tourist event - be it different types of businesses, or new and evolving business models. Thus, the scope of persons or entities liable to pay tax needs to be updated to accomodate these changes, the agencies said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

With the amendment, either the MTI or the STB will be able to gazette new types of people or entities assessed to be "key beneficiaries" of tourist events and hence, liable to pay cess. Nonetheless, there are no immediate plans to do so, they said.

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The second proposed change to the Act involves the consolidation of administrative requirements.

These include: clarifying the scope for taxation on goods and services transacted or provided by a tourist establishment; broadening STB chief executive's powers to obtain information from all parties that may be liable to pay tax; and increasing the records retention period from two years to five years to align with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act.

As an example, where the transaction or supply of a hotel room is through cash gift vouchers, the value of such vouchers would be subject to tax, the agencies said.

The public consultation will run from March 6 to 13, 2018.

Feedback may be submitted via email to mti_feedback@mti.gov.sg with the subject heading "Consultation on Proposed Amendments to the Cess Act".