6 Ways to Legally Reduce Your Income Tax Before the Year Ends

After joining the workforce, I came to know the existence of income tax. Singapore uses a method called progressive income tax whereby higher income earners pays a proportionately higher tax, up to a highest rate of 22%.

Income tax can eat into a huge amount of your income if you have other commitment to pay for and many do not take into consideration when they do their financial planning.

You can roughly estimate your potential income tax based on the table below.

**Note that you will only be receiving a letter from IRAS asking for income tax only if you earns more than $20,000 in the year.

Chargeable IncomeIncome Tax Rate (%)Gross Tax Payable ($)
First $20,000
Next $10,000
First $30,000
Next $10,000

First $40,000
Next $40,000

First $80,000
Next $40,000

First $120,000
Next $40,000

First $160,000
Next $40,000

First $200,000
Next $40,000

First $240,000
Next $40,000

First $280,000
Next $40,000

First $320,000
In excess of $320,000


The income tallied for tax purposes includes:

  • Total salary, inclusive of bonuses
  • Employment benefits such as housing or stock options
  • Rental income from renting out your property

Now, here’s how to legally reduce your income tax before the year comes to an end!

For the Married

Parents [In-Laws] / Grandparents [In-Laws] Relief

The government is rewarding filial piety! If you have supported your parents or grandparents in the year, you can claim either parents/grandparents relief.

Note that these conditions must be met:

  1. The dependent is 55 years old and above
  2. The dependent do not earn above $4000 for their annual income

** Do note that you can claim for up to 2 dependents only

Parent Relief

 YA 2010 to YA 2014From YA 2015
Taxpayer Stays with Dependant $7,000 per dependant$9,000 per dependant
Taxpayer Does Not Stay with Dependant$4,500 per dependant$5,500 per dependant

Handicapped Parent Relief

 YA 2010 to YA 2014From YA 2015
Taxpayer Stays with Dependant$11,000 per dependant$14,000 per dependant
Taxpayer Does Not Stay with Dependant$8,000 per dependant$10,000 per dependant

Top Up your Dependents Retirement Account

Plan for your dependent’s retirement while saving some tax in the process!

You can do a voluntary to your dependent’s CPF Special / Retirement account for up to a maximum of $7000 in total to enjoy tax relief. Do note that the dependent must not be earning more than $4000 annually, if they are able-bodied.

**Tax relief subject to existing amount in SRS account.

Amount of Cash Top-up to own or family members’ CPF Special/Retirement Account (does not exceed the limit on cash top-up amount for computing tax relief*)Amount of Relief
Below $7,000Exact amount of cash top-up
$7,000 or more$7,000

For Yourself

Top Up your CPF Special Account

By topping up your CPF special account, you are essentially killing two birds in one stone. These monies will go into building up your retirement funds. Given that the current CPF special account is 4% annually, for the $7000 you put now, it will rolled and compounded to be $22,704 after 30 years.

You can also get a dollar-for-dollar tax relief, up to $7000 for the amount of cash top-up to your special account. If you think about it, the government is actually giving you rebates to save for your retirement. Sounds legit.

moustache guy pouring wine

Top Up your Medisave Account

By voluntary toping up your Medisave account, you not only get tax relief, you are also preparing for rainy days for your body. The amount of tax-relief is capped at the maximum CPF contribution cap including the compulsory CPF contribution.

Upgrade Yourself

The government values citizen upgrading a lot. Hence, if you have taken up any self-sponsored course in the year, they are also applicable for tax relief, up to a cap of $5500.

You can check the available provider with ACRA here.

Make Donations to Approved Institutions

Do good, and good will come to you

In the spirit of giving, the government is rewarding those who make donations to approved institutions by giving them a tax relief of 250% of amount donated. This means that if you donated $1000, you can claim a tax relief of $2500.

You can check out the approved institutions here.

For the Property Landlords

Claiming Costs Incurred from Renting Properties

Rental income is taxable, and for those landlords with multiple properties, the income generated may be substantial, and may push you up multiple income brackets. While there is no way out of escaping the income tax, you can lower them.

IRAS allows you to claim expenses you incurred from renting the property. This includes:

  • Interest you paid for the housing loan to purchase the property
  • Property tax
  • Fire insurance
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Agents commission to secure tenants
  • Costs of management fees
  • Replacement of furniture
  • Utility and broadband bill

Only after deducting these claimable expenses is the net income taxable.

For the Working Mothers

Grandparent Caregiver Relief

All mummies are eligible for this relief regardless of whether you are married, divorced or widowed. You can claim this as long as your parents / grandparents are not working and are taking care of your kids, who must be Singaporean and less than 12 years old.

Note that you can only claim up to $3000 on either one of them, and of which, no other family member have claim grandparent caregiver relief on them.

Working Mother’s Child Relief (WMCR)

Giving birth and going back to the workforce is strongly encouraged in Singapore where huge relief is given based on the number of children you have.

Child OrderWMCR Amount
1st15% of mother’s earned income
2nd20% of mother’s earned income
3rd and beyond25% of mother’s earned income

Note that your child need to fulfil the following conditions:

  1. He / she must be Singaporean
  2. The child must be below 16 years old, or studying full-time at any education institution
  3. He / she does not have an annual income exceeding $4000

Foreign Maid Levy (FML) Relief

To encourage married women / divorcees or widowed women with children to stay in the workforce, the government allows them to claim for foreign maid levy relief.

Note that you can claim for only 1 foreign domestic worker for up to 2 times of the levy paid in the previous year.

No. of Months Levy Paid in 20161212
Total Levy Paid in 2016$3,180 ($265 X 12 months)$720 ($60 X 12 months)
Maximum FML Relief for YA 2017$6,360 (2 x $3,180)$1,440 (2 x $720)

For the Parents

Qualifying Child Relief (QCR) / Handicapped Child Relief (HCR)

For the fathers, do not despair. You can claim for QCR or HCR. The relief amount can be claimed by either the mom or the dad, or can be shared between both parties.

**Note that QCR/HCR + WMCR is capped at $50,000 per child

Year of Assessment (YA)Qualifying Child Relief (QCR)Handicapped Child Relief (HCR)
From YA 2015$4,000 per child$7,500 per child New!
From YA 2009  to YA 2014$4,000 per child$5,500 per child

Parenthood Tax Relief

More reasons to be parents! As long as you are a married Singaporean citizen, and have a child that fit the requirements,  you are eligible for PTR relief. This can be co-shared by both parents, or claimed by either parent.

Child OrderPTR
(For child born in 2004 to 2007)
(For child born from 2008 onwards)
5th and subsequent child$0$20,000 per child

For the Guys

NS Relief

For the guys who went through the intense 2 years journey of NS, you are entitled to tax subsidies based on the following table.

Bonus: For the wife and parents of a NSmen, they also get to receive tax relief of $750 as long as they are Singaporeans.

Did you perform NS activities in the preceding year?NSmen
(General Population)
NS Key Command and Staff Appointment Holders

Whew, we went through so many ways you can legally reduce your income tax. I’m not surprised that you might not be paying income tax if you have done some of them.

Share with us in the comments on what you have done to reduce your income tax!

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