What is SRS?
Most people are familiar with CPF OA, SA & MediSave, and what you can do with each account. CPF also manages another account for Singaporeans/PRs & even Foreigners, it called Supplementary Retirement Scheme or SRS.
SRS is primarily used as a tax relief scheme in Singapore due to the compulsory Minimum Sum Scheme that feeds in the CPF Life pension fund for Singaporeans & PR. For Foreigners, who lack other means of tax relief, the maximum SRS tax relief is higher.
Most people who contribute to SRS knows you can use 100% of the funds for saving and investment purposes. However, due to the volatility of the markets this past few years, many had withheld their investments.
If you go to IRAS website, you can find the Tax calculator. For readers earning more than $50,000 gross income, it’s worth taking a look at it even if your other Tax reliefs reduces your Tax liability to roughly $1000 per year. If your gross income is more than $100,000, it’s time to pay attention!
Assuming you have max out all your other relief and you still have to pay a sizable income tax every year, SRS is a viable tax relief to consider. Check out the table below.
This table is for calendar year 2015 where assessment is done in 2016. Maximum SRS is $12,750 for Singaporeans & PRs, and $29,750 for foreigners. For the purpose of illustration, I’m ignoring the 50% rebate (capped at $1000) on payable Income Tax due to SG50, and the table is calculated for Singaporeans and PRs only. Foreigners will jump down 2 tax brackets so the potential tax savings is doubled!
|Income bracket after other relief||Tax payable||Tax Payable after SRS||Tax Savings|
It is important to note that SRS tax relief should be viewed as a tax deferment scheme because after you retire, any funds withdrawn will STILL be subjected to Income Tax. Fortunately, only 50% of the withdrawn amount is taxable.
Investment opportunities for SRS funds
SRS pays out a 0.5% interest per annum, which until last year was an attractive safe investment return compared to Fixed Deposit. Investors looking for higher returns typically invest in unit trust funds or structured funds of some sort. However, higher risks funds are negatively impacted recently due to market forces.
Fortunately, AIA just introduced a new product in 2015 to cater to savvy investors looking for a safer investment instrument while beating inflation. As I’m not allowed to advertise any insurance & investment products, all I can say is this is an SRS lump sum endowment product that gives a guaranteed monthly annuity for a period of 15 or 20 years starting from the retirement age.
For more information, please email me directly and reference this article in the email.
Limitations of SRS
To prevent money laundering and tax evasion, limitations are placed on SRS funds, whether invested or not.
There is a limit on how much cash you can inject into SRS to qualify for tax relief. This figure is revised yearly. For example, maximum SRS tax relief is $12,750 for FY2015 while in FY2016, this is increased to $15,300 for Singaporeans/PRs and $35,700 for foreigners.
Withdrawals from SRS are also governed by a strict set of rules which can be found here. The most important of which is, early withdrawal before the statutory retirement age causes the withdrawal amount to be 100% taxable + a 5% penalty on the withdrawal amount. Investment returns are also 50% taxable even after the statutory retirement age.
Despite these restrictions, if your investment returns can beat the penalty + additional load to your Income Tax for that year, it’s still a worthwhile tax relief.
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