2019 marks the 200th year since Sir Stamford Raffles signed the 1819 Singapore Treaty with Temenggong Abdu’r Rahman and Sultan Hussein Shah of Johor. This treaty gave the British East India Company the right to set up a trading post in Singapore.
Oh right, you don’t really care do you? You’re more interested in how much of the $1.1 billion Bicentennial Bonus pie you will get, after hearing it on Budget 2019.
On 18 February 2019, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced that in celebration of these 200 years, the government wants to give back to us via the Bicentennial Bonus and the Bicentennial Community Fund. Will you be eligible for the free money? What other bicentennial incentives can you benefit from?
Bicentennial Bonus – Who is eligible and how much free money will you get?
The $1.1 billion Bicentennial Bonus will comprise a few components:
(a) Up to $300 in GST Voucher Cash – Bicentennial Payment payouts
If you are aged 21 and above in 2019, your assessable income for year of 2018 is less than $28,000, and your annual value of home as at 31 December 2018 is less than $13,000, you will get $300 in GST Voucher – Cash (Bicentennial Payment).
If your annual value of home is more than $13,000 and less than $21,000, you will get $150.
|Annual Value of Home up to $13,000||Annual Value of Home more than $13,000 and up to $21,000|
|GST Voucher Cash – Bicentennial Payment||$300||$150|
This payment, not to be confused with GST Voucher 2019, will be called the GST Voucher – Cash (Bicentennial Payment).
The criteria for GST Cash Voucher 2019 largely apply to GST Voucher – Cash (Bicentennial Payment), which means that if you qualify for either, you will likely receive both.
For GST Voucher 2019, you will receive it in August 2019, while GST Voucher – Cash (Bicentennial Payment) will be disbursed at the end of 2019.
So assuming you qualify for the maximum $300 for your GST Voucher, you will get an additional $300 for your GST Voucher – Cash (Bicentennial Payment), totalling to $600!
Shiok! But use wisely ah… For living expenses only.
You can choose to receive your GST Vouchers by direct crediting to your DBS, POSB, OCBC or UOB savings/current bank account, or via cheque.
Bicentennial Bonus eligibility conditions:
- Assessable income for year of assessment 2018 less than $28,000
- Annual value of home as at 31 December 2018 less than $21,000
- Aged 21 and above in 2019
(b) Workfare Bicentennial Bonus
For the work done in 2018, if you are already a recipient of WIS payments, you will get a minimum payment of 10% of the total annual WIS payment for work done in 2018 (minimum payment $100).
What’s WIS? If you are a Singapore Citizen, are 35 years old or above on 31 December in 2018 and earn a gross monthly income of not more than $2,000 for the month worked, you are eligible for Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) payments.
The exception to the rule is that regardless of age, all persons with disabilities qualify for WIS.
|Your age||Max Annual WIS||Employee||Self-Employed Persons|
|35 to 44||$1,500||Between $100 and $150||$100|
|45 to 54||$2,200||Between $100 and $220||Between $100 and $147|
|55 to 59||$2,900||Between $100 and $290||Between $100 and $194|
|≥ 60||$3,600||Between $100 and $360||Between $100 and $240|
So for instance, if you are 35 years old and had received the maximum annual WIS payment in 2018 of $1,500, you will get $100 + $150, amounting to $250.
Workfare Bicentennial Bonus eligibility conditions:
- Singapore citizen
- Aged 35 and above (unless you are a person with disabilities, then you qualify regardless of age)
- Gross income of not more than $2,000 for the month worked
- WIS payments recipient in 2018
(c) Personal income tax rebate for Singaporean taxpayers
Ah okay, finally something for the middle-class folks.
All taxpayers enjoy a personal income tax rebate of 50% of tax payable for the Year of Assessment 2019 for what you earned in 2018. Hurray!
This rebate is capped at $200 per taxpayer.
(d) Top-up to Edusave accounts and post-secondary education accounts
Depending on how old your child is, he or she will get a one-time top-up to their Edusave accounts or Post-secondary education accounts (PSEA). It will be disbursed in the middle of 2019.
|Account||Annual Value of Home up to $13,000||Annual Value of Home more than $13,000|
|Edusave (7 to 16 years old)||$150||$150|
|PSEA (17 to 20 years old)||$500||$250|
This money cannot be withdrawn, however. Edusave is to be used to pay for approved school fees and enrichment programmes, while the PSEA account can be used for the below purposes:
- Tuition fees at local universities, polytechnics, art schools, ITE, and other approved institutes
- Compulsory hostel fees for certain courses
- Payment of government or CPF education loans
- Siblings’ approved fees and charges for approved programmes
If you have amounts left in your PSEA after you graduate, the money will be deposited to your CPF Ordinary Account when you turn 31. You may also deposit the amount to your sibling’s PSEA (but… would you?).
(e) CPF Top-up for lower-income Singaporeans between 50 and 64
For lower-income Singaporeans aged between 50 and 64 who have low CPF balances, the Government will provide a one-time top-up to help build their CPF savings.
This amount will go to your Special Account if you aged between 50 and 55 and to your Retirement Account if you are between the ages of 56 and 64.
And by “lower-income”, they mean that your assessable income for Year of Assessment 2018 must not be more than $28,000. The annual value of home as at 31 December 2018 must also not be more than $21,000. You should also not own more than one property to qualify.
|Age in 2019||Combined OA & SA or RA|
|Up to $30,000||More than $30,000 and less than $60,000|
|50 to 54||$500||$300|
|55 to 64||$1,000||$600|
Bicentennial Community Fund
The second initiative that the Budget 2019 has put forth for the bicentennial celebration is the Bicentennial Community Fund.
If you are currently donating to certain Singapore charities and enjoying tax deductions, you will continue to until 31 December 2021, as according to Budget 2018.
For Budget 2019, as part of the $200 million Bicentennial Community Fund announced during Budget 2019, the government will use the fund to provide dollar-to-dollar matching for donations to registered Institutions of a Public Charter (IPCs) within the financial year of 2019.
To check whether you favourite cause or the current charity that you are donating to qualifies, you can do a quick search on charities.gov.sg portal.
Caps apply to the dollar-to-dollar matching scheme so that more IPCs can benefit from the fund.
If your company is thinking of doing a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, businesses also get a 250% tax deduction of qualifying expenditure when their employees volunteer or provide services to IPcs under the Business and IPC Partnership Scheme.
Summary of Budget 2019 Bicentennial Bonus initiatives
All Singaporean taxpayers: Personal income tax rebate of 50% of tax payable for the Year of Assessment 2019 for what you earned in 2018.
Lower-income Singaporeans: $300 GST Voucher – Bicentennial Payment for lower-income Singaporeans, to be paid out at the end of 2019.
Lower-income Singaporeans between 50 to 64 years old: One-time CPF Top-up between $300 to $1,000 depending on age and income.
Lower-income workers: 10% of WIS payment for work done in 2018 for lower-income workers as part of Workfare Bicentennial Bonus (minimum $100 cash).
Students between 7 and 20 years old: Edusave/PSEA top-ups of between $150 and $500 depending on age.
Charities and IPCs: Dollar-to-dollar matching for donations, paid out from the Bicentennial Community Fund.