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SG Agents' anger at 'we don't pay GST' claim

Property Here - Tuesday, March 26, 2013

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By Andrew Batt:

A growing number of Singapore property agents are being forced to absorb the GST on their rental fees because an increasing number of landlords are refusing to pay.

One agent who spoke to PropertyGuru said: “I'm sick of being ripped off by these people who refuse to pay their GST, which then gets deducted from my commission. Why should I pay their GST?”

The agent, speaking on condition of anonymity, added: “GST isn't an optional extra but it seems like every time I close a rental I'm arguing with the landlord to pay their GST. Invariably they get their own way but why should I subsidise them? It's not like I can go shopping and tell the cashier “I don't pay GST”. It's really wrong and unfair.”

Another agent claimed the practise of agents absorbing the landlord’s portion of GST is fairly common, and one that most in the sector have to put up with if they want to do business with certain landlords.

A spokesperson for the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) told PropertyGuru: “All GST-registered businesses have to charge GST on the sale of goods or the provision of services. They are required to quote GST-inclusive prices, whether written or verbal, to their customers. The above principle applies to the services that GST-registered property agents provide in arranging or brokering property transactions.”

The spokesperson added: “The GST-registered property agent should quote the landlord a GST-inclusive agent fee and make clear that the agent fee quoted includes the GST payable on the agent fee. The GST-registered property agent will account for GST to IRAS based on 7/107 of the agent fee that he charged the landlord. For example, if the agent fees quoted is $1,000, $65.42 (i.e. $1,000 x 7/107) will be accounted as GST and $934.58 (i.e. $1,000 x 100/107) will be the value of the services rendered.”

IRAS suggested that to minimise disputes, GST-registered property agencies and landlords should reach an upfront agreement on the GST-inclusive agent fee payable on the services rendered, and to formalise this in their contractual arrangement for property-related services.

 

Andrew Batt, International Group Editor of PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact him about this or other stories email andrew@allproperty.com.sg