Tax professionals call for incentives to boost emerging tech

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Tax incentives aimed at boosting productivity and helping businesses take advantage of emerging technologies should be included in next month's Budget, said leading industry body Singapore Institute of Accredited Tax Professionals.

It has proposed a raft of measures along these lines.

These include enhancing the existing research-and-development (R&D) scheme, introducing a double deduction scheme for training expenses, encouraging R&D activities in start-ups and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and introducing a fintech tax incentive.

The institute wants a programme to replace the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme when it ends this tax year.

It has proposed that either the Economic Development Board or Spring Singapore oversee an initiative where qualifying expenditure on approved R&D projects could see an additional 100 per cent to 200 per cent deduction, subject to a suggested annual cap of $500,000.

This mirrors schemes in Thailand and Hong Kong.

The expiry of the PIC scheme here would also mean there will not be any specific tax programmes for businesses to offset training costs.

This could be tackled with a double deduction for training expenditures, with a suggested annual spending cap of $500,000, said the Institute in its wishlist released yesterday.

Start-ups and SMEs should also be considered for a double or triple deduction on qualifying R&D expenditure, which would provide an attractive environment for new firms to establish themselves in Singapore, and also provide an incentive for companies to innovate.

The Institute also suggested a concessionary tax rate of 10 per cent or lower targeted at the fintech sector to help businesses innovate.

On Wednesday, the Singapore Business Federation's budget recommendations floated the idea of developing and attracting "unicorns" - start-ups valued at over US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion) - as part of a proposed growth strategy by positioning the country as a hub for high-potential firms and investors.