Stamp Duties are a tax levied on certain specified instruments. Since duties on most of the miscellaneous categories of instruments have been repealed or replaced with nominal duties, in the present day, the main important kinds of stamp duties are those imposed on transfers of real property or shares.

Buyer’s Stamp Duty (“BSD”) is imposed on the conveyance, transfer or sale of real property and applies to both commercial and residential property. BSD is imposed on a progressive scale for commercial properties, with the first S$180,000 of the value of the property transferred taxed at 1%, the second S$180,000 taxed at 2% and the remaining value taxed at 3%. This used to be the case for residential properties as well. However, since 2018, an additional band was created for residential properties. Thus, while the rates levied are the same for values up to S$1,000,000, any remaining value above that will be taxed at 4%.

Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (“ABSD”) is also imposed on the conveyance, transfer or sale of real property, but only applies to residential properties. The relevant rate is determined by two main factors: the status of the person purchasing the property (Singapore Citizen, Permanent Resident, Foreigner or Entity), and the existing number of properties owned by the person at the time of purchasing that property (the “property count”). No ABSD is payable by Singapore Citizens buying their first residential property, but in all other situations, the rates can range from 5% to 25%.

Seller’s Stamp Duty (“SSD”) applies to residential properties disposed of within a period of three years. The SSD rate is 12% for properties disposed of within a year of acquisition, going down to 8% if disposed of after a year and 4% after two years. No SSD is payable is a property is disposed of more than three years after acquisition. While SSD is not payable for compulsory acquisitions under the Land Acquisitions Act, there is no exemption from it in the case of en bloc sales. 

Additional Conveyance Duty (“ACD”) is levied on indirect transfers of residential properties. The transfer of an interest of an entity (company, partnership or trust) with at least 50% of its market value made up of residential properties is potentially subject to ACD. ACD rates generally mirror the highest BSD, ABSD and SSD rates that would have been applicable had the transfer of residential property interests been made directly. 

Stamp duty on the transfer of shares is levied at the rate of 0.2% on the higher of the actual price or net asset value of the shares. Transfers of scripless shares are not subject to stamp duty on the transfer of shares. 

Articles and publications relating to Stamp Duties which I have worked on in recent years include:

  1. Stamp Duty Issues in Singapore Corporate Practice” (2018) 30 Singapore Academy of Law Journal 949-977
  2. The New Additional Conveyance Duties Regime in the Stamp Duties Act” (2018) 30 Singapore Academy of Law Journal 119-148
  3. Stamp Duty Relief and Anti-Avoidance Provision”, Lexis Practical Guidance- Singapore Tax, (2018)

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