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Public feedback sought on proposed GST changes for imported services, including 'Netflix tax'

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Singapore's Ministry of Finance (MOF) is seeking public feedback on proposed changes to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) that stem from measures announced during the 2018 Budget, including a so-called "Netflix tax" on imported digital services.

SINGAPORE'S Ministry of Finance (MOF) is seeking public feedback on proposed changes to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) that stem from measures announced during the 2018 Budget, it said on Thursday.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced during the Budget that GST will be levied on imported services, including a so-called “Netflix tax” on imported digital services like movie and music streaming, from Jan 1, 2020.

The changes will take effect through a reverse charge mechanism for business-to-business imported services, where the local GST-registered business is required to account and pay GST directly to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) on the services it imports.

Despite the change, MOF noted that most GST-registered businesses will not be affected as they can claim full refund of the GST incurred on their purchases, while those affected are mainly financial institutions and residential property developers, which do not get full refunds as they make GST-exempt supplies.

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In addition, overseas suppliers and electronic marketplace operators which have 'significant' sales of digital services to Singapore consumers are also required to register with IRAS.

Once GST-registered, they will collect GST on their B2C (business-to-consumer) supplies of digital services and pay Iras thereafter, MOF said.

The changes will ensure Singapore's GST system remain "fair and resilient" in a digital economy, the ministry said in a press statement.

Other proposed amendments to the GST include enhancing IRAS' powers to investigate tax crimes, sharing information by IRAS with law enforcement agencies to combat serious crimes, countering unauthorised GST collection, extending customer accounting to transactions with the government and providing for the disposal of documents or things seized under the GST Act.

The feedback period will last until July 18.