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Singapore

MOE aware of over-reporting of taxable income, staff will not be taxed more than necessary

SINGAPORE: Ministry of Education (MOE) employees who had their taxable income over-reported to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) will not be taxed more than necessary, said the ministry on Wednesday (Mar 16). 

This comes after several accounts emerged on the Salary.com portal over the weekend from MOE officers who noticed they were being taxed much more than expected. 

One such account linked this issue to the CONNECT Plan award, which some of the employees received in December. 

Under the CONNECT Plan, MOE officers receive payouts at defined points every three to five years during their career. The plan was implemented in 2002. 

The Education Ministry is aware that the CONNECT Plan award amounts have been over-reported to IRAS, it said in a statement in response to queries by CNA. 

“Notwithstanding this, the payment made to eligible officers is correct,” the statement read. 

The taxable income for these MOE officers will be rectified in time for this year’s tax assessment, and will not result in them being taxed more than necessary, said the ministry in its response.

Bryan (not his real name), who is a teacher, checked his taxable income on Saturday and IRAS records showed that he had received S$40,000 in the additional employment income category. 

This is double of what he had received, and resulted in his taxable income hitting more than S$100,000, with an income tax of about S$5,000, he said. 

“That amount, I have never seen it and I doubt that I will ever see an amount that high," he told CNA. 

"So immediately I noted that something was wrong. Then I asked around, but we still hadn’t made the connection that the particular statement came from the CONNECT Plan."

Bryan did not find anyone who had the same issue upon checking with his colleagues. 

But after speaking to other friends who faced similar problems, he realised that the only thing they had in common was that they had received their CONNECT Plan awards in December. 

“No matter how we did the sums, even if we added our first payout and our second payout, it still wouldn’t hit S$40,000,” Bryan said, adding that he then contacted MOE’s human resources department for assistance. 

On Monday, when he checked his account on the IRAS portal, he found the issue was rectified and the correct amount was reflected. 

The next day, MOE officers received a mass email from the Education Ministry about the error, notifying them that it was being fixed and there would be no action required on their end, he said. 

“Being with MOE we just take it for granted, whether or not it’s a good or bad thing, that there’ll be nothing wrong with our income filed,” said Bryan. 

“And who knows if it weren’t brought up or not noticed, we would have gotten taxed and then we would have been like, ‘Wow, something’s wrong.’” 

In a statement on Wednesday, the Education Ministry said the incorrect reporting of taxable income was due to a “system bug”, which affected MOE employees who received the CONNECT Plan award in December. 

“Necessary steps have been taken to rectify the system bug and the correct amount has been submitted to IRAS,” the ministry said. 

“MOE has informed the affected officers of the issue and rectification effort.” 

Source: CNA/hw(rw)

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