Help for the private-hire and taxi industry is finally arriving. In his Resilience Budget speech on 26 March 2020, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced further measures to help the badly affected industry.
Extention of Special Relief Fund
$78 million in Government funding will go towards the Special Relief Fund (SRF). The Special Relief Fund will seek to help active taxi and private hire car drivers defray business costs through relief of $300 per vehicle per month (i.e. $10 per day).
The Special Relief Fund was slated to end in end May 2020. It has been extended to the end of September 2020.
It is estimated that over 40,000 drivers will benefit from it.
The Special Relief Fund is only for active drivers. IF the qualifying criteria are the same as those announced on 13 February 2020, not every driver will qualify.
For the SRF announced on 13 February 2020, private-hire car drivers have to
1. Completed at least 200 PHC trips every month for the period Oct-Dec 2019.
2. Be a registered driver on the ride-hailing platform at the time of payout
The eligibility details on the extended SRF will be released later and updated here.
Waiver of Private-Hire Car Conversion Fee
For drivers who are using their own car as private-hire, there will be a 1-time waiver of $100 conversion fee if you choose not to do private-hire anymore.
The waiver is for conversion from private-hire car (Z10/Z11) to private car (P10/P11) only.
Drivers who use their car as private-car will enjoy a lower car insurance premium than private-hire cars. Get a free quote here for your private-car insurance if you decide to convert.
Enhanced Training Support Package and an increase in Training Allowance
Drivers will also receive enhanced training support from SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG). From 1 April till the end of 2020, private-hire and taxi drivers will be able to enjoy course fee support of up to 90% for selected courses.
This training support package will help drivers to develop deep domain skills, emerging skills, as well as soft skills during this downtime.
Eligible drivers will also receive an increase in training allowance from $7.50/hr to $10/hour under the Self-Employed Person (SEP) Training Support Scheme, which is part of the NTUC Training Fund (SEPs).
Those who want to try out another industry should seek to upgrade themselves during this lull period where fare and demand are low.
3-Months Income Tax Deferment for Self-Employed Persons
Self-employed persons like private-hire and taxi-drivers will be granted a three-month deferment on income tax payment this year.
All self-employed persons are required to e-file their personal income tax return by 18 April 2020. Learn how to file your tax on time as a private-hire driver to avoid late filing penalties.
This is the most important measure that every private-hire, taxi and the self-employed person should look out for. A total of S$1.2 billion will be set aside for the SIRS scheme. The new initiative will be jointly developed by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).
MOST self-employed persons will receive a sum of S$1,000/month for nine months under the new scheme to help them tide over the pandemic.
Eligibility for SIRS
In order to qualify for SIRS, there are 5 criteria to be fulfilled.
- Started to work as a Self-Employed-Person on or before 25 March 2020.
- Do not also earn income as an employee –
What it means – if you got another job and your employer contributes to your monthly CPF, you do not qualify.
- Earns a Net-Trade-Income of no more than $100,000.
What it means – If your personal income tax after deducting expenses is more than $100,000, you do not qualify. E.g. If your driving income is $150,000, you can less off 60% as expenses, your net trade income would be $60,000
- Live in a property with an annual value of no more than $13,000
What it means – The annual value of your property is the estimated annual rent a property can fetch if it were to be rented out. It is used to calculate the property tax payable of your home. The annual value can be found on the property tax bill that the property owner will receive every year. How to check the AV of your residence, log in to IRAS website -> mytaxportal using your SingPass/IRAS PIN > Messages > Correspondence & Notices > Property Tax > Letters/Notices.
In short, it means that if you live in a private property, bigger and more expensive HDB flat, most likely your property annual value might cross $13,000. Check on the IRAS website to confirm your actual annual value.
- Do not own 2 or more properties
Additional requirements if you are married
- The individual and spouse together do not own two or more properties; and
- The Assessable Income of his/her spouse does not exceed $70,000.
If you fulfill all of the above requirements, congratulations you can qualify for the SIRS payout.
How to Apply SIRS
Singaporean self-employed persons who are aged 37 and over in 2020 and who declared positive SEP income to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) / CPF Board (CPFB) for the Work Year 2018 do not need to apply.
They will be automatically notified of their eligibility via mail and SMS. They will receive the first SIRS payout automatically in May 2020.
Other eligible self-employed-person may apply for SIRS. Further details on SIRS and the application process will be released at a later date.
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