SINGAPORE: Close to S$10 million worth of Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) payouts were denied to 444 employers, either partially or in full, after "unacceptable practices" were observed, said the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) on Friday (Oct 2).
Some of these practices include employers making the usual amount of CPF contributions to a worker who has been placed on no-pay leave or whose pay has been cut.
"By making mandatory CPF contributions that are not reflective of the actual wages paid, the employer will receive more JSS payout than he is entitled to," said IRAS.
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Some employers were found to have made CPF contributions to individuals who are not their actual employees, or asked workers to return a part of their monthly wage in cash.
These are "fraudulent arrangements", said IRAS, adding that providing personal information to employers to facilitate such schemes may make an individual an accomplice to the fraud.
In cases where employees' monthly pay exceeds S$4,600, some companies were found to have split the wages across business entities in order to circumvent the JSS salary ceiling.
Four "egregious" cases have been referred to the police for suspected abuse of the JSS.
"These include employers submitting false documents to IRAS to substantiate their eligibility for the JSS," said the tax authority.
EMPLOYERS REVIEWED FOR ELIGIBILITY
The JSS, first announced in February, helps employers retain local workers amid the COVID-19 economic uncertainty by subsidising wages through a cash grant.
IRAS said that the companies with unacceptable practices were identified through its review of close to 2,200 companies for the July payouts.
This is part of its anti-gaming efforts to ensure that JSS payouts are fairly and correctly disbursed.
"Employers under review would have their JSS payouts withheld until they are able to submit supporting documents to IRAS to verify the authenticity and accuracy of mandatory CPF contributions made," said the authority.
"Their payouts would be adjusted or denied if issues are found during the review, and egregious cases would be referred to the police."
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IRAS said it has received documents from and concluded the review of more than 1,400 employers as of end-September.
To date, close to 50 employers have voluntarily declared incorrect mandatory CPF contributions made for employees, IRAS said.
It added that it has received more than 300 whistleblower reports on employers suspected of abusing the JSS.
Employers who attempt to abuse the JSS may be liable for the offence of cheating, which carries a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine.