Mastering Your Tax Return as a Self-Employed Person in Singapore: A Personal Income Tax Guide

Table of Contents


All articles are for education purposes only, and not to be taken as advice to buy/sell. Please do your own due diligence before committing to any trade or investments.


All articles are for education purposes only, and not to be taken as advice to buy/sell. Please do your own due diligence before committing to any trade or investments.

Self-employed man in a modern home office, diligently reviewing financial documents and navigating personal income tax returns on his laptop - an embodiment of self-employed tax mastery in Singapore.

Table of Contents

Introduction – A Guide to File Personal Income Tax in Singapore

Venturing into income tax returns as a self-employed individual, such as a freelancer, trader, and investor in Singapore, can be complex. Given that personal income tax rates are among the lowest globally, it’s vital to comprehend how to handle your financial obligations efficiently.

This guide unravels the complexities of the taxation process, offering a step-by-step guide for filing your personal income tax returns, claiming deductions, and leveraging CPF contributions. 

Ready to master your taxes? Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the distinction between employee and self-employed in Singapore to determine your tax obligations accurately.
  • Familiarize yourself with industry-specific tax obligations related to your work as a self-employed individual in Singapore.
  • Leverage your myTax Portal account, provided by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), for effortless and convenient filing and payment online via myTax portal.
  • Follow the step-by-step process outlined in the article to gather necessary documents, calculate business income, claim deductions, review information, and submit your tax return accurately and on time.

A focused self-employed woman in her contemporary home office in Singapore, engaged in a phone call while reviewing tax-related documents on her desk. Her laptop and a coffee cup are also seen, highlighting her commitment to understanding her tax obligations.

Grasping Tax Obligations as a Self-Employed Person

To excel in your tax return as a self-employed person in Singapore, you must understand your tax obligations, determine if you’re categorized as self-employed, and ascertain if you need to file and pay income tax.

Determining if you are a self-employed person

Grasping the difference between employment income and self-employment is crucial for tax purposes in Singapore.

Self-employed persons often run their businesses or own a share in a partnership. This business income, as specified by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), needs to be reported in your income tax filing.

If your primary source of income stems from activities like investing in stocks or day-trading futures contracts, it may be seen as self-employment. Freelance professionals providing financial consulting or market analysis also fall under this. 

Understanding these specifics helps you fulfill your tax obligations correctly, know when you’re required to file your income tax and understand the date of your tax bill to avoid penalties.

Tax obligations for self-employed individuals

As a self-employed individual in Singapore, you’ll need to meet certain tax obligations. This includes declaring all your business income in your annual tax return when you file your taxes.

It’s essential to accurately report your Net Trade Income (NTI) – the profit from sales and services after deducting allowable expenses. Remember to factor in the necessary MediSave contributions, a part of CPF Relief that effectively reduces taxable income. This and the earned income relief can considerably lower your tax liability.

Self-employment taxes include both Social Security and Medicare contributions at an overall rate of 15.3%. Comprehending these obligations ensures you’re aligned with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) guidelines on self-employed expenses and the required rates when you file for income tax.

Tax obligations for partnerships

In Singapore, tax obligations for partnerships have unique nuances. A partnership does not pay taxes on its income from trade or business. Instead, each partner is personally responsible for declaring their portion of the business profits in their income tax return, per IRAS rules. 

In essence, the partnership’s profits are distributed among partners, and each partner is individually taxed at individual income tax rates on their share.

Navigating these obligations might seem complicated, but IRAS offers comprehensive guidelines to simplify this process and ensure compliance with all relevant regulations. This includes instructions on handling foreign dividends, which are taxed at corporate rates upon remitting or deemed remitted in Singapore.

IRAS also offers tools, such as a helpful tax calculator, to assist self-employed individuals in accurately computing their income taxes. These resources help ensure you’re prepared when you need to pay income tax and receive any filing notification from IRAS.

Industry-specific tax obligations

As a trader or investor, you must know the industry-specific tax obligations that apply to you as a self-employed person in Singapore. Different industries may have unique requirements when it comes to taxation.

For example, if you are involved in forex trading, you must understand how currency trading gains and losses are taxed. Similarly, if you are an investor in the stock market, knowing how capital gains on stocks are treated for tax purposes is essential.

Understanding these industry-specific tax obligations enables you to accurately calculate your business income and ensure compliance with the law. This knowledge allows you to make informed decisions about claiming deductions and reducing your taxable income within the confines of the regulations applicable to your work.

A diligent self-employed individual meticulously fills out his tax return form, using a calculator to ensure accuracy, reflecting the process of filing and paying income tax to IRAS in Singapore.

Process of Filing and Paying Income Tax to IRAS

Learn how to file your income tax returns, calculate your business income, claim deductions, and understand tax residency and rates. Discover the step-by-step process of managing your myTax Portal account, receiving tax bills, making payments, and checking refunds.

Master the filing and payment process for a smooth tax season.

Managing your myTax Portal account

To effectively manage your tax filing and payment processes as a self-employed person in Singapore, having a myTax Portal account is crucial.

Here are some key points to help you navigate and make the most of your account:

  1. Set up your myTax Portal account: Use your Singpass or Singpass Foreign user to create your personalized myTax Portal account. This will give you access to all the necessary features for managing your income tax matters.
  2. Convenient tax filing and payment: With your myTax Portal account, you can conveniently file and pay your taxes online. This eliminates paper filing and provides a secure platform for submitting your tax returns.
  3. Update personal particulars: Keep your personal information updated through the myTax Portal. This includes details such as name, contact information, and other relevant details that may impact your tax obligations.
  4. Assistance for tax agents: If you work with a tax agent, they can also utilize the myTax Portal to manage and handle your income tax matters. This streamlines communication and ensures smooth coordination between you and your agent.
  5. Access technical FAQs and support: The myTax Portal offers a comprehensive range of technical FAQs to assist you in using the platform effectively. Additionally, the IRAS website provides further help resources if needed, ensuring you can access all the support you require.

Steps to filing your income tax returns

Filing your income tax returns as a self-employed person in Singapore is an important responsibility.

Here are the procedures you should adhere to:

  1. Gather all necessary documents: Before starting the filing process, prepare all required documents. This includes your income statements, business expense records, and other relevant financial documentation.
  2. Log in to myTax Portal: Access the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore’s (IRAS) myTax Portal using your SingPass or IRAS Unique Account (IUA). You can register for one on the portal if you don’t have an account.
  3. Select “File Income Tax”: Navigate to the “File Income Tax” section on the portal. Here, you will find options tailored specifically for self-employed individuals.
  4. Declare your income: Enter your income details accurately, including your net trade income for the relevant tax year. Ensure that you declare all sources of income from self-employment.
  5. Claim deductions and reliefs: Take advantage of any allowable business expenses and deductions to reduce your taxable income. Make sure to claim any applicable tax reliefs and rebates as well.
  6. Review and verify information: Double-check your entered information before submitting your tax return. Look out for any errors or omissions that may affect the accuracy of your filing.
  7. Submit your tax return: Once satisfied with the information provided, submit your tax return electronically through myTax Portal. Be mindful of the submission deadline, typically the 15th of April each year.
  8. Pay any outstanding taxes: If you have taxes owing after filing your return, ensure they are paid promptly to avoid penalties or interest charges.
  9. Keep records for future reference: Maintain copies of all tax-related documentation, such as receipts and invoices, for at least five years from the YA (Year of Assessment) end date.

Determining your business earnings

To ensure accurate tax filing as a self-employed person in Singapore, it is essential to calculate your business income correctly.

These are the steps you should take:

  1. Determine your gross income: Add all the revenue from your business activities during the tax year. This includes sales, fees, commissions, and other income sources.
  2. Subtract allowable business expenses: Identify and deduct all legitimate expenses incurred in your self-employed business. These can include rent, utilities, office supplies, professional fees, advertising costs, and travel expenses related to your business.
  3. Calculate net trade income: Subtract the total allowable business expenses from the gross income to arrive at the net trade income figure. This represents the taxable portion of your self-employment earnings.
  4. Include any other taxable income: If you have additional sources of taxable income outside of your self-employment activities (e.g., rental income or investment gains), make sure to account for them separately.
  5. Understand tax deductions and reliefs: Familiarize yourself with available tax deductions and reliefs that may apply to reduce your overall taxable income further. For example, considerations such as employment-related expenses and donations to approved charities can help lower your tax liability.
  6. Be aware of applicable personal income tax rates: Check the current tax rates in Singapore based on your taxable income range. These progressive rates will determine how much tax you owe on your net trade income.

How to claim business expenses and deductions

Knowing how to claim business costs and deductions on your tax form to reduce your taxable income is key. It’s also crucial to inform IRAS about these deductions to ensure accurate tax calculations.

Remember these important details:

  1. Deductible Business Expenses: You can deduct a wide range of business expenses from your taxable income. Some common examples include office rent, utility bills, professional fees, advertising, and travel expenses directly related to your business activities.
  2. Equipment and Depreciation: If you purchase equipment such as computers, software, or machinery for your trading or investment activities, you can claim depreciation allowances over its useful life. This allows you to spread out the cost of the equipment over time.
  3. Home Office Expenses: If you use a part of your home exclusively for trading or investment activities, you can claim home office expenses. These can include a portion of your rent or mortgage interest, property taxes, and maintenance and repair costs for that area.
  4. Professional Services: Fees paid for professional services such as accounting, legal advice, or consultancy can be deducted from your taxable income.
  5. Education and Training Costs: Any costs incurred for attending seminars or courses directly related to improving your trading or investment skills can be claimed as deductible business expenses.
  6. Repairs and Maintenance: Costs associated with repairing and maintaining equipment used for trading or investment activities can be deducted.
  7. Subscriptions and Publications: Subscription fees for financial magazines, newsletters, research reports, and market data services essential for staying informed about investments can also be claimed as deductible business expenses.
  8. Insurance Premiums: Premiums paid for business-related insurance policies such as professional indemnity or business interruption insurance may also be deductible.
  9. Meals and Entertainment: While meals consumed during regular working hours are generally not deductible, meals and entertainment expenses incurred while meeting clients or conducting business meetings may be deductible up to a certain percentage.
  10. Miscellaneous Expenses: Additional costs associated with your trading or investment activities might be vital for income generation. Maintaining accurate records and seeking advice from a tax professional to ascertain their deductibility is crucial. If your business is registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, you are responsible for ensuring accurate accounting practices.

Understanding tax residency and rates

Understanding your tax residency status and the applicable rates is essential when preparing to file a tax return as a self-employed individual in Singapore. As a trader or investor, it’s vital to note that individuals who are tax residents of Singapore are subject to a progressive resident tax rate.

In practical terms, the total income you earn determines your taxable income and the corresponding tax bracket you fall into. As of now, the highest personal income tax rate in Singapore stands at 22 percent.

Being fully aware of these rates and how they apply to your situation as a self-employed person is paramount. It helps ensure accurate reporting of your total income and strict adherence to Singapore’s tax laws when you prepare your statement for filing your income.

Exploring tax reliefs, rebates, and deductions

As traders and investors in Singapore, it is important to explore the various tax reliefs, rebates, and deductions that can help reduce your income tax. Here are some key options to consider:

  1. Tax Reliefs:
    • The Ministry of Finance offers a range of tax reliefs to eligible individuals. These reliefs are deducted from your chargeable assessable income, resulting in lower income tax payments.
    • Some common tax reliefs include the Working Mother’s Child Relief, Handicapped Child Relief, and Parent Relief. These reliefs aim to support families and encourage parenthood in Singapore.
    • If you have dependents such as elderly parents or grandparents, you may also be eligible for the Qualifying Handicapped/Disabled Child Relief.
  2. Parenthood Tax Rebate:
    • Traders and investors who are parents can benefit from the Parenthood Tax Rebate. This rebate encourages the birth of Singaporean children by providing additional tax relief.
    • You can claim this rebate for each qualifying child under 16.
  3. CPF Relief:
    • As a self-employed person, you can contribute to your Central Provident Fund (CPF) account and claim CPF relief for tax purposes.
    • By contributing to CPF, you save for retirement and reduce your taxable income.
  4. Business Expenses Deductions:
    • Self-employed individuals can claim business expenses as deductions to lower their taxable income.
    • It is essential to keep track of all business-related expenses, such as office rent, utilities, professional fees, and marketing costs.
  5. Foreign Workers Levy (FWL):
    • If you employ foreign workers in your trading or investment business, you may be eligible for FWL relief.
    • This relief helps offset the FWL paid on behalf of your foreign employees.


Receiving tax bills, making payments, and checking refunds

  • As a self-employed person in Singapore, it is important to understand the process of receiving tax bills, making payments, and checking refunds.
  • After filing your income tax returns, IRAS will assess your tax liability and issue a tax bill to you.
  • The IRAS will send a tax bill outlining the amount of tax you owe based on your declared income and applicable tax rates. You will receive this bill through mail or electronically via myTax Portal.
  • To ensure timely payment, it is crucial to take note of the due date stated on the tax bill. Late payment may result in penalties or interest charges.
  • There are several convenient methods available for making tax payments. You can pay online through myTax Portal using various modes such as GIRO, internet banking, or credit card. Alternatively, you can also make payment at designated SingPost branches or IRAS’ Taxpayer & Business Service Centre.
  • It’s essential to keep track of your payment details for future reference and reconciliation purposes. Once the payment is made, you can expect a confirmation receipt from IRAS.
  • After submitting your income tax returns and making payment, you must stay updated on any potential refunds owed to you.
  • You can check for eligible refunds by logging into your myTax Portal account. IRAS will review your return and process any applicable refund if an excess amount is paid.
  • Once processed, the refund will be credited directly to your bank account registered with IRAS.

Remember that staying informed about the entire process of receiving tax bills, making payments, and checking refunds ensures compliance with Singapore’s personal income tax regulations for self-employed individuals.

Dedicated freelancer managing her tax responsibilities in a serene indoor garden setting, using her laptop and documents to calculate and prepare for income tax filing in Singapore.

Special Considerations for a Freelancer: Filing Your Income Tax Return

Freelancers have unique tax considerations, including options like the 2-Line and 4-Line Statement for filing. They can also employ strategies to reduce their income taxes and may need to consider transitioning to a private limited company at certain points.

What qualifies as freelance income

Freelance income refers to the earnings you receive from working on a self-employed basis, without being tied to a specific employer or company. As a trader or investor in Singapore, freelance income can include various types of work, such as consulting projects, graphic design services, writing gigs, or even trading activities.

It’s important to note that any income earned through freelancing is considered trade income and is subject to personal income tax in Singapore. This means that you are required by law to report your freelance earnings and expenses on your annual tax return.

Even if you only earn a small amount from freelance work alongside your regular job or investments, it is still necessary to declare this additional income.

Different tax filing options (2-Line Statement, 4-Line Statement)

As a self-employed person in Singapore, it’s crucial to understand the different tax filing options available. These chiefly include the 2-Line Statement and the 4-Line Statement.

Statement Type Description When to Use
2-Line Statement This simpler tax filing requires only the declaration of total business income and allowable business expenses. It gives a quick overview of your net trade income. You’re eligible to use the 2-Line Statement when your annual business income is $100,000 or less and you have elected to deduct actual business expenses.
4-Line Statement This detailed form of tax filing requires a comprehensive report of your total business receipts, less direct and allowable business expenses, and then provides your adjusted net trade income. The 4-Line Statement is for self-employed individuals with annual business income exceeding $100,000 or those elected for section 43A to apply. This method provides more transparency and control over your accounts, enabling you to manage your tax obligations better.

Understanding and applying the right tax filing method is vital for self-employed traders and investors. It ensures accurate income declarations and calculation of tax liabilities, as mandated by the IRAS in Singapore.

When to consider transitioning to a private limited company

Transitioning to a private limited company can offer several advantages for traders and investors in Singapore. One important consideration is the potential tax savings that come with this change.

As a self-employed person, you may be subject to higher personal income tax rates, while incorporating as a private limited company can allow you to take advantage of lower corporate tax rates.

Additionally, forming a separate legal entity like a private limited company protects your assets from your business liabilities. This can be particularly beneficial if you are engaged in high-risk trading or investment activities.

Self-employed individual engaged in a discussion with a tax professional at a cafe, examining a tablet screen for CPF contribution information. Their table is strewn with important documents, a filing book, writing tools and a cup of coffee, encapsulating the topic of self-employment CPF contributions in Singapore.

Self-Employed Persons’ Guide to CPF Contributions

Self-employed individuals in Singapore can contribute to the Central Provident Fund (CPF), which provides important benefits and financial security.

Benefits and importance of contributing to CPF

Contributing to CPF as a self-employed person in Singapore offers significant benefits and importance. By contributing to CPF, traders and investors can enjoy tax savings while building up their retirement savings.

The CPF contribution is based on a percentage of the individual’s net trade income, with a maximum annual limit. This contribution serves as an economic policy instrument, affecting self-employed individuals’ overall income and retirement savings.

Furthermore, by making voluntary contributions to CPF, traders and investors can ensure financial security in the long term. Understanding the CPF contribution system is essential for mastering personal income tax as a self-employed person in Singapore.

Steps to contribute as a self-employed person

To contribute as a self-employed person to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) in Singapore, follow these steps:

  1. Determine your CPF contribution eligibility and assess if you meet the necessary criteria.
  2. Calculate your annual net trade income to determine the amount of CPF contribution you are required to make.
  3. Utilize the CPF Contribution Calculator provided by the CPF Board to determine the amount you need to contribute based on your income.
  4. Log in to your myCPF online account and navigate to the “Self-Employed” section.
  5. Select the option for “Contributions” and input the calculated CPF contribution amount.
  6. Choose your preferred payment mode, either eNETS or GIRO, depending on your preference and convenience.
  7. Ensure you have sufficient funds in your designated bank account for successful payment processing.
  8. Submit your CPF contribution details through the online portal, ensuring accuracy in all entered information.
  9. Keep records of each contribution, including dates, amounts, and transaction reference numbers, for future reference or verification purposes.
  10. Regularly monitor your myCPF account for updates on contributions, confirmation of successful payments, and any changes or updates from the CPF Board.

Self-employed professional in a home office setting, attentively calculating his personal income tax return with a calculator, amidst documents, a laptop, and a cup of coffee, signifying his diligent approach towards income tax management in Singapore.

Additional Resources for Personal Income Tax Return Guidance

Explore the Singapore Tax Guide for Freelancers and Self-Employed Individuals, which provides comprehensive information on personal income tax obligations and filing requirements.

Singapore Tax Guide for Freelancers and Self-Employed Individuals

Navigating the tax landscape can be overwhelming for freelancers and self-employed individuals in Singapore. That’s why the Singapore Tax Guide for Freelancers and Self-Employed Individuals is an invaluable resource.

This guide provides clear and concise information on understanding your tax obligations, filing and payment processes, special considerations for freelancers, CPF contributions, and additional resources for personal tax guidance.

It explains the differences between regular employees and self-employed individuals in taxation, ensuring you have a solid foundation of knowledge to manage your taxes effectively.

Personal Income Tax Guide and Rates

Navigating Singapore’s personal income tax system can be a breeze with the right guidance. Understanding the tax rates and obligations as self-employed is crucial for traders and investors.

Singapore boasts one of the lowest personal income tax rates globally, from 0% to 22.5% for 2023. As a resident individual, you can take advantage of personal reliefs and deductions that help reduce your taxable income.

Additionally, Singapore offers a corporate income tax rate of 17%, further benefiting businesses in the country. To simplify the process further, you can utilize the resources and guides provided by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) to ensure accurate tax filing and to make the most of your tax benefits.

Taxation of Self-Employed Persons in Singapore

Self-employed individuals in Singapore are subject to personal income tax on their earnings. The income earned is considered part of their total personal income and is taxed at progressive rates.

As your income increases, the tax rate also increases accordingly. It’s important to note that personal income tax in Singapore only applies to income earned within the country, so if you’re earning money from overseas sources, it may not be taxable.

Additionally, self-employed individuals can claim deductions for business expenses incurred while carrying out their trade or profession. These deductions help offset their taxable income, ultimately reducing the taxes owed.

Personal Income Tax in Singapore for Non-residents

Foreigners who work in Singapore may also be subject to personal income tax. The taxation of foreigners is based on their residency status and the source of their income. Non-resident foreigners are only taxed on income derived from Singapore, while resident foreigners are taxed on both Singapore-sourced and foreign-sourced income.

However, certain types of foreign-sourced income may qualify for tax exemptions or reduced tax rates under various double tax agreements that Singapore has with other countries. It’s important for traders and investors who are foreigners working in Singapore to understand their income tax obligations and take advantage of any available reliefs or exemptions to minimize their tax liability.

Remember to keep proper records and declare all your income accurately when filing your income tax return as a non-resident or resident foreigner in Singapore.


To sum it up, gaining proficiency in handling your tax return as a sole proprietor in Singapore is crucial. It helps comply with the nation’s tax laws and amplifies your fiscal benefits.

By comprehending your tax obligations, filing your taxes accurately and promptly, and utilizing available deductions and reliefs, you can efficiently manage your personal income taxes. This includes knowing when you first need to declare your income to the IRAS.

With resources such as the Singapore Tax Guide for Freelancers and Self-Employed Individuals and support from accounting firms, tackling the complexity of taxes becomes less daunting.

Stay well-informed and organized, and take the reins of your tax return to reduce stress while enhancing your financial position.

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Bryan Ang

Bryan Ang is a financial expert with a passion for investing and trading. He is an avid reader and researcher who has built an impressive library of books and articles on the subject.

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