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Singapore, US Sign FATCA IGA

On December 9, Singapore and the United States signed a Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA), following its initialing in May this year. FATCA, which was enacted by the US Congress in 2010 and took effect on July 1, 2014, is intended to ensure that the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) obtains information on financial accounts held at foreign financial institutions (FFIs) by US persons. Failure by an FFI to disclose information on their US clients will result in a requirement to withhold 30 percent tax on payments of US-sourced income.

To address situations where foreign law would prevent an FFI from complying with the terms of an FFI agreement, US Treasury has developed model IGAs. Under the terms of the Model 1 IGA between Singapore and the US, Singapore-based financial institutions will need to report information on financial accounts held by US persons to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), which will then exchange the information with the IRS. Transmitting this information under the terms of the IGA will therefore help to ease the compliance burden for financial institutions, as their reporting obligations will be deemed met once they have transmitted the information to IRAS. Singapore and the US have also been discussing a reciprocal FATCA arrangement, under which the US would extend similar cooperation to Singapore.

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