A Guide to Singapore’s Tax Incentives for Businesses

Jul 12, 2023News


Singapore is known for its favorable business environment and attractive tax incentives, making it a preferred destination for entrepreneurs and companies worldwide. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to Singapore’s tax incentives for businesses. From tax exemptions to grants and incentives, Singapore offers a range of opportunities to help businesses thrive. In this guide, we will explore the different tax schemes and incentives available, their eligibility criteria, and the benefits they provide.

Overview of Singapore’s Tax Incentives

Singapore has designed various tax incentives to encourage business growth, attract investment, and foster innovation. These incentives aim to create a competitive business landscape and drive economic development. The tax incentives cover a wide range of industries and activities, providing businesses with opportunities to reduce their tax liabilities and enhance their competitiveness.

Tax Exemptions for New Start-Up Companies

Singapore adopts a progressive corporate tax rate system. Currently, the headline corporate tax rate stands at 17%. However, certain qualifying startups and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) can enjoy preferential tax rates, ensuring a lower tax burden during their initial years of operation.

Productivity and Innovation Credit Scheme

The Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme is aimed at encouraging businesses to invest in productivity and innovation. It provides tax deductions or cash payouts for eligible expenses incurred in six qualifying activities, namely, research and development, automation, training, design, intellectual property registration, and acquisition of approved software and equipment. The PIC scheme enables businesses to offset their costs and drive innovation within their operations.

Pioneer and Development and Expansion Incentive

The Pioneer and Development and Expansion Incentive (DEI) schemes are targeted at specific industries and activities to attract investments and promote economic growth. The Pioneer Incentive offers tax incentives to companies engaged in pioneering activities, while the DEI provides tax incentives for qualifying companies involved in development and expansion projects. These schemes aim to encourage companies to undertake high-value activities that contribute to Singapore’s economy.

Global Trader Program

The Global Trader Program (GTP) is designed to promote international trading activities in Singapore. Companies engaged in qualifying trading activities, such as commodity trading, can enjoy reduced corporate tax rates on their qualifying trading income. The GTP provides a competitive advantage to traders by offering them a preferential tax regime, further enhancing Singapore’s position as a global trading hub.

Research and Development Tax Incentive

Singapore places great importance on research and development (R&D) to drive innovation and technological advancements. The Research and Development Tax Incentive encourages businesses to invest in R&D activities by providing enhanced tax deductions or cash payouts for qualifying expenses incurred in R&D projects. This incentive fosters a culture of innovation and supports companies in their pursuit of cutting-edge solutions.

Double Tax Deduction for Internationalization

To encourage businesses to expand overseas, Singapore offers a Double Tax Deduction (DTD) scheme for internationalization. Under this scheme, businesses can claim a deduction for expenses incurred on qualifying activities when expanding into overseas markets. The DTD scheme aims to alleviate the potential burden of double taxation and incentivize businesses to explore global opportunities.

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Avoidance of Double Taxation

In addition to DTAs, Singapore offers the unilateral tax credit and the foreign tax credit schemes to avoid double taxation. Unilateral tax credit allows companies to claim a tax credit in Singapore for foreign tax paid on income derived from overseas. The foreign tax credit scheme enables companies to claim a tax credit in Singapore for foreign tax paid on income received in Singapore.

Maritime Sector Incentive

As a leading maritime hub, Singapore provides tax incentives to companies in the maritime sector. The Maritime Sector Incentive (MSI) offers reduced tax rates for companies engaged in qualifying shipping and maritime activities. These activities include ship chartering, ship management, ship financing, and container leasing. The MSI scheme strengthens Singapore’s position as a maritime center and supports the growth of the maritime industry.

Financial Sector Incentive

Singapore’s financial sector plays a crucial role in the country’s economy. To attract financial institutions and facilitate their growth, Singapore offers a Financial Sector Incentive (FSI). The FSI provides tax incentives to qualifying companies in areas such as fund management, treasury operations, and corporate finance. These incentives help maintain Singapore’s status as a global financial hub and encourage financial institutions to establish and expand their operations in the country.

Intellectual Property Development Incentive

Intellectual property (IP) is a valuable asset for businesses, and Singapore recognizes its importance. The Intellectual Property Development Incentive (IDI) supports the development and commercialization of IP. Qualifying companies can enjoy tax benefits on income derived from qualifying IP rights, such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights. The IDI scheme encourages businesses to invest in IP creation and protection, fostering a culture of innovation and creativity.

Land Intensification Allowance

To promote the efficient use of land and enhance productivity, Singapore provides a Land Intensification Allowance (LIA). This incentive encourages companies to optimize land usage by constructing high-rise industrial buildings or expanding existing ones vertically. Companies undertaking qualifying projects can claim tax allowances based on the construction and development costs incurred. The LIA scheme supports sustainable development and maximizes land efficiency in Singapore.

Approved Royalties Incentive

The Approved Royalties Incentive (ARI) aims to encourage companies to invest in research and development activities that result in the creation of intellectual property. Under the ARI, companies can enjoy tax benefits on income derived from approved royalties. This incentive incentivizes the commercialization of innovative ideas and technologies, contributing to Singapore’s knowledge-based economy.

Strategic Goods Control Incentive

Singapore places strict controls on the export, transshipment, and brokering of strategic goods and technology. The Strategic Goods Control Incentive (SGCI) provides tax incentives for qualifying companies involved in activities related to strategic goods and technology. This incentive supports companies in complying with Singapore’s export control regulations and ensures the responsible transfer of strategic goods and technology.

Mergers and Acquisitions Allowance

The Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) Allowance encourages companies to pursue strategic mergers and acquisitions to enhance their competitiveness and expand their operations. Qualifying companies can enjoy a tax allowance of up to 25% of the value of the acquisition, subject to a cap. The M&A allowance aims to facilitate business growth and consolidation, promoting a vibrant and resilient business landscape in Singapore.


Singapore’s tax incentives for businesses create an environment conducive to growth, innovation, and internationalization. From tax exemptions for start-ups to industry-specific incentives, Singapore offers a wide range of opportunities for businesses to thrive. These incentives not only help companies reduce their tax liabilities but also support their efforts in research and development, international expansion, productivity enhancement, and more. By leveraging these incentives, businesses can gain a competitive edge and position themselves for long-term success in Singapore’s dynamic economy.

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