[May 06, 2014]WASHINGTON/SINGAPORE (Reuters) -
Singapore has reached a tax information-sharing agreement with the
United States under a new law meant to combat offshore tax dodging by
Americans, a U.S. Treasury Department spokeswoman said on Monday.
The deal, which was expected for more than a year, will make it
much easier for institutions in one of Asia's biggest wealth
management centers to comply with U.S. rules, and puts it ahead of
rival Hong Kong which is yet to finalize a deal.
Set to take effect on July 1, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act
of 2010 (FATCA) will require foreign banks, investment funds and
insurers to hand over information to the U.S. Internal Revenue
Service about accounts with more than $50,000 held by Americans.
Foreign firms that do not comply face a 30 percent withholding tax
on their U.S. investment income and could effectively be frozen out
of U.S. capital markets.
The Singapore deal, known as an intergovernmental agreement (IGA),
will come as relief to the city-state's wealth management industry
which had S$1.63 trillion ($1.30 trillion)in assets under management
at the end of 2012.
Like most of the other FATCA deals, the Singapore agreement will
allow firms to report U.S. account-holder information to their local
tax authority, which will send it along to the IRS, saving them from
dealing directly with the U.S. tax authorities.
The Singapore deal was agreed "in substance" and must be finalized
by the end of the year.
"The advantage this gives to Singapore institutions is the certainty
on how they should go about their compliance efforts and make the
relevant registrations," said Michael Brevetta, who is
PricewaterhouseCoopers' FACTA lead for Southeast Asia.
Hong Kong is looking to sign a similar agreement, and inked a
separate tax information agreement with the United States in March
as the first stage to achieving a full IGA, although it is unclear
if that will be done before July 1.