Audit, Tax & Advisory

  • I am thinking of expanding beyond Singapore to new markets in ASEAN

  • It is important for your business to conduct thorough market and industry research on the ASEAN markets you intend to target. ASEAN markets are very different from one another. Arming yourself with in-depth knowledge of local practices will help you establish a clearer picture of where your customers and new sources of revenue will come from.

  • How can I tell if my company is ready to expand overseas into ASEAN?

  • Critical factors to consider include knowing how much expansion capital you require and the length of time before your business reaches its break-even point. The composition of this capital is also crucial – this can be equity (internal resources), debt (borrowing from banks or other financial institutions), government grants or a combination. Finally, an honest assessment of your current operations will let you determine whether your business has a sufficient buffer of unencumbered cash flows that can support your overseas operations until it becomes profitable.

  • Do I have the right people with me on my ASEAN expansion journey?

  • As an entrepreneur venturing overseas, you should expect a change in the role you play. You will need to manage people of different cultures and manage your time to be involved operationally at multiple locations in different countries. Be ready to delegate responsibilities to others and look at new ways of doing things, especially if you are going to have overseas partners.

  • Is there withholding tax in dividends paid out from Singapore? What about other ASEAN countries?

  • For dividend payments Singapore operates on a "one-tier" system. Basically, the corporate tax paid by the company is the final tax. Dividends paid out to shareholders will not have any Singapore tax consequences. There are dividend withholding taxes in certain other countries within ASEAN but these can be reduced through the Double Tax Agreement between Singapore and these ASEAN countries.

  • Can I have a registered marketing office to capture my international sales and appoint nominee directors in Singapore?

  • If your intention is to manage your tax burden by shifting your international sales through a paper office incorporated in Singapore with nominee directors, you will find that you will not be able to demonstrate that you are a tax resident and operating in Singapore. You will therefore still be subjected to your home country tax. You do need to have headcounts based in Singapore that conducts your international sales and marketing activities under normal commercial and business operations.

  • I am an ASEAN investor looking to set up office in Singapore. What are the compliance requirements of a Singapore incorporated company? Do I need to maintain my company accounts in Singapore?

  • Singapore has clear regulations on the compliance requirements of locally incorporated companies with specific filing details on taxpayer incomes, employee incomes, withholding tax arrangements, Annual General Meeting arrangements and so on. Further, you may maintain the accounts outside of Singapore. However, the accounts must comply with the Singapore Financial Reporting Standards and it must have the necessary details to support subsequent tax reporting such as the Goods and Services Tax.

  • What are the various business structures available to foreign investors who wish to do business in Singapore?

  • Broadly, a foreign investor can conduct business in Singapore through business firms (e.g. sole-proprietorships and general partnerships), Limited Liability Partnerships, Limited Partnerships, incorporated companies or foreign companies. The choice of an appropriate business structure will be influenced by a combination of factors that’s relevant to the objectives of the individual and/or business. While tax related issues are important, consideration must also be given to non-tax related issues such as statutory reporting and disclosure requirements, funding requirements, licensing requirements, ability to restructure (share ownership/joint venture/exit arrangements), risk man agement and others. Our experience has shown that it is critical to get proper advice on the appropriate structure from the outset to avoid any potential pitfalls along the way.

Updated as of 24.11.2015