When you buy a home, you’re not just paying for that nice new flat or apartment.
There are actually quite a few other things you’ll be spending thousands on, including interest payments for your home loan, legal fees and… stamp duty.
Each time you buy a property, you’re obliged to pay Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) to IRAS.
And, if you happen to satisfy certain conditions, such as, oh, being a foreigner or owning another property, you get slapped with Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD), which was introduced as part of the cooling measures to stop overzealous buyers from overheating the property market.
So how much does this add to the price tag of your property?
What is stamp duty in Singapore?
According to the Ministry of Finance, stamp duty is a type of tax that you pay for the houses and any other commercial properties you own. You also have to pay stamp duty if you’re selling your house, for stocks, and shares as well.
If you are Singaporean and you own a house in Singapore, you pay the basic and lower Buyer’s Stamp Duty. If you own more than one house in Singapore, you’ll need to pay the Buyer’s Stamp Duty and an Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty.
If you’re a Permanent Resident or a foreigner, you pay the Buyer’s Stamp Duty and Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty for all the properties you own.
Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) in Singapore
All property buyers have to pay BSD. There is no escape. Think of it as an unavoidable tax on your home.
BSD rates are calculated based on the value of the property, as follows:
|Purchase Price or Market Value of the Property||BSD Rates for residential properties||BSD Rates for non-residential properties|
As you can see, the more expensive your property, the higher the overall BSD rate you’ll be forced to pay. So, buyers $17 million properties at Sentosa Cove, take note.
Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) Singapore
In addition to the BSD, there is also the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD), which has increased since 16 December 2021.
You are liable to pay ABSD on residential property purchases if:
- You’re a Singapore citizen who’s already a residential property owner and wants to buy a second, third, or fourth house
- You’re a PR
- You’re a foreigner
Essentially, it is an addition to the Buyer’s Stamp Duty that is imposed on all purchases of a residential property in Singapore.
Unlike the Buyer’s Stamp Duty, the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty, or ABSD, is a kind of tax on the purchase of a residential property in Singapore that only affects Singapore Permanent Residents and foreigners, or Singapore Citizens who are buying more than one property.
In other words, it artificially raises the property prices for everyone except Singapore Citizens buying their first residential property.
On 16 December 2021, the Singapore government increased the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty for Singaporean citizens, Permanent Residents, and foreigners buying properties in Singapore.
Here’s how much you have to pay (with ABSD living trust updates on 9 May 2022):
|Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty||ABSD rate|
|Singapore citizen buying your 1st residential property||0%|
|Singapore citizen buying a 2nd residential property||17%|
|Singapore citizen buying a 3rd and subsequent residential property||25%|
|PR buying a 1st residential property||5%|
|PR buying a 2nd and subsequent residential property||25%|
|PR buying a 3rd and subsequent residential property||30%|
|Foreigner buying any residential property||30%|
|Transfer residential property into a living trust||35%|
As you can see, the ABSD rates make the BSD ones look like peanuts.
And yes, HDB property counts as a first property in the computation of ABSD.
If you’re thinking of upgrading your home, you can lower or eliminate your ABSD liabilities by timing the sale of your home to coincide with your purchase of a new one.
ABSD for all properties transferred into a living trust (May 2022 update)
The latest Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) news came on the 8 May 2022. The government announced that when residential properties are transferred into any living trust, 35% ABSD will be payable even if there is no beneficial owner stated yet.
That was a mouthful. What does that mean? Let’s break it down into layman terms. (This is just for general understanding. Don’t come after us with your Youtube PhD.)
A living trust is somewhat like a will, where you legally entrust your residential property and assets to your family members or people you know. Once you entrust your house to a living trust, such as a will, your trust owns your property.
In the past, you didn’t have to pay ABSD for your property if the house doesn’t have any beneficiary specified in the living trust/ will.
Now, the government wants a hefty 35% ABSD paid for all properties transferred to living trusts even if no one is stated as the beneficiary.
So, if you’re drafting a will because you’ve got a HDB, condo, and plan to split them amongst your spouse and children, you might want to take note of this 35% ABSD.
ABSD remission for married couples
There are some cases where you don’t need to pay ABSD even as a foreigner or PR.
If, as a foreigner or PR, you are married to Singaporean citizen and you don’t own any residential property currently, you don’t have to pay ABSD.
You can also get your ABSD refunded if you are switching homes as a married couple. The first residential property that you paid ABSD for must be sold within 6 months after the purchase date of the second property, if completed, or after the issue date of the TOP or CSC (whichever is earlier). See full terms and conditions of ABSD remission on IRAS website.
Property cooling measures in Singapore — what are they for?
When the ABSD was first introduced in December 2011, it was mainly to discourage foreigners and entities (essentially any buyer who is not an individual) from purchasing residential property in Singapore, and discourage the purchase of three or more residential properties.
A foreigner who wants to buy a $2 million property today, for example, would now have to pay $600,000 in additional stamp duty.
|ABSD rates||First property||Second property|
|ABSD for Singaporean Citizen||0%||17%|
|ABSD for PRs||5%||25%|
|ABSD for foreigners||30%||30%|
One of the immediate benefits of implementing the ABSD was seeing a sharp drop in property speculation.
Buyers from overseas who may have previously been interested in investing in Singapore property were put off by the high ABSD. The thought of paying over $600,000 for a $2 million property was enough to make even the richest property investors think twice.
However, the ABSD was further increased thrice – in January 2013, July 2018, and 16 December 2021.
Coupled with the Total Debt Servicing Ratio and Seller’s Stamp Duty, these measures were meant to decrease the volume of property transactions.
While the measures did cool the property market for a few years around 2018 to 2020, the pandemic drove another heatwave in the property market.
Average Singaporeans, especially many of us who are already struggling with the home loan downpayment and monthly repayments, will be quickly forced out of property ownership as prices swell beyond our incomes.
Hate math? You can calculate your BSD and ABSD liabilities using this nifty stamp duty calculator right here on MoneySmart. Once you’re reading to commit to buying a property, you can also contact our mortgage specialists who will give you unbiased advice on the latest home loans rates in Singapore.
Do you have any other questions on BSD or ABSD? Ask them in the comments section!