While Singapore has one of the lowest personal income tax rates in the world, income tax can still be a significant expense for the middle and high-income earners.

Many of them are considering using SRS contributions or CPF top-ups to increase their personal relief, and consequently lower their taxable income. A key concern is that their existing tax reliefs may already exceed the personal income tax relief cap of $80,000, and make any additional relief contribution efforts pointless.

In this article, you will get to understand how to estimate, or precisely calculate your current tax relief through IRAS submissions, so that you can make an informed decision around making discretionary relief contributions, such as SRS contributions and CPF top-ups.

How to estimate your personal tax reliefs

Retrieving your previous income tax statement

The quick and easy way to estimate your current tax relief is to use your previous tax filing as a proxy to this year’s tax.

You can log in to myTax portal at IRAS with Singpass, under Notices/Letters, you will be able to access your previous income tax statement or Notice of Assessment (NOA) as IRAS would put it.

After you have downloaded your previous income tax statement/ NOA, look at your Total Personal Reliefs last year. This will form the basis of your tax relief estimate.

Sample of a middle income, NSmen Singaporean NOA statement Note the "Total Personal Reliefs"

Adjusting for changes in your tax relief

Your tax benefits and deductions may change from your previous tax filing. The most common reasons are as follows:

  1. Increase in employee contributions of CPF, due to an increase in salary or bonus
  2. Being a parent, making you eligible for Qualifying Child Relief
  3. Having more dependents, such as the Parent/Grandparent relief, Handicapped Brother/Sister relief

Add or subtract any changes to these tax reliefs, and you will have a fairly reflective estimate of your current tax benefits.

Manually calculating your personal tax relief and deductions

To be more precise and accurate with your tax optimisation efforts, you should

  1. Manually identify the different relief schemes that you are entitled to
  2. Find out how much you are getting from the tax reliefs
  3. Sum up all the reliefs you are getting.

The following are the key types of reliefs that are part of our entitlement:

We are exempted from paying taxes for any compulsory CPF contribution that we make as employees. For example, a fresh graduate with a base salary of $3,000 (annual income of $36,000) will have a tax relief of $7,200 for his CPF contribution.

Note that there is an Ordinary Wage Ceiling cap for CPF contribution at $6,000 of your monthly salary.

CPF tax relief is also extended to contributions from your annual bonus and leave pay. The additional Wage ceiling cap for CPF contribution is calculated based on the below formula:

The maximum tax relief that you can get from compulsory CPF contributions is 20% of $102,000 or $20,400 if you are under 55 years old. More examples of how Additional Wage Ceiling CPF contributions can be found on the CPF website,

Child tax relief as a parent

With additional childcare-related expenses, lower tax expenses is definitely a relief for many working parents. Additional tax benefits are also given to working mothers.

The tax relief amount for the two different schemes, Qualifying/Handicapped Child Relief, and Working Mother Child Relief as follows:

Dependents tax reliefs

Having a spouse, parent, or grandparent that is under our care also allows us to be entitled to tax reliefs. You may even get Grandparent Caregiver Relief if your parent/grandparent is taking care of your child. The different schemes and the tax reliefs are tabulated below:

Not that there are various criteria that you should take note of before you assume that you are entitled to the relief.

For example, under the Parent Relief, your parent/grandparent cannot have made an annual income of more than $4,000. Similarly, the Spouse Relief requires your spouse to not make an annual income of more than $4,000. It is important to refer to the relevant IRAS page for more information. Read more about the Handicapped Brother/Sister Relief here.

Other miscellaneous tax reliefs

You should also include the other key miscellaneous tax reliefs, or refer to IRAS for more information.

Personal Income tax relief cap and its implication

After you have identified the different tax reliefs that you are entitled to and summed up all the tax benefits you are getting, you will know the Total Personal Relief that you can get.  As there is a maximum tax relief of $80,000, if you have $75,000 Total Personal Relief before SRS contributions or CPF top-ups, you can only get $5,000 from SRS tax reliefs or CPF top-ups.

Beyond that, you should also consider what tax bracket that you are in after all the tax reliefs you are entitled to. A young working mother who earned $100,000 last year may find SRS contributions last year worth it without a child, as she was in the 11.5% tax bracket. However, with the associated tax relief as a parent, she may find the tax savings at the 7% tax bracket too low in exchange for liquidity.

The Singapore tax relief system may be complicated, but the benefits of it can be identified and quantified. With a bit of effort and time, you can make tax savings a benefit that you enjoy throughout your working life.

Get a head start on financial literacy & general investing by watching our Investing 101 with Endowus 4-part series here.