Frustrated agent starts petition

One Singapore real estate agent has launched an online petition in a bid to force consumers to pay the GST on their rental fees.

Jason Lim of Vestor Realty is one of a growing number of Singapore real estate agents who are increasingly frustrated at having to absorb the tax element of deals when clients refuse to pay. He has now taken to online channels and is petitioning the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) to take action.

Lim says: “GST isn’t and shouldn’t be an optional extra, but it seems like every time a rental is transacted, realtors will be arguing with the landlord to pay their GST. Invariably these landlord and consumers get their own way, but why should realtors subsidise them at all?”

In March PropertyGuru first reported how increasing number of real estate agents are being forced to absorb GST.

At that time a spokesperson for the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) said: “All GST-registered businesses have to charge GST on the sale of goods or the provision of services. They are required to quote GST-inclusive prices, whether written or verbal, to their customers. The above principle applies to the services that GST-registered property agents provide in arranging or brokering property transactions.”

To minimise disputes, IRAS suggest that GST-registered property agencies and landlords should reach an upfront agreement on the GST-inclusive agent fee payable on the services rendered, and to formalise this in their contractual arrangement for property-related services.

In his online petition which was launched yesterday, Lim adds: “We ask that CEA make GST non-negotiable and compulsory for all consumers on all transactions, and to pay their rightful GST when paying commission to realtors.”

Yeap Soon Teck, Deputy Director (Licensing), Council for Estate Agencies, told PropertyGuru: “The CEA has constantly highlighted in its consumer education resources and messages that a GST-registered estate agent is allowed to charge and collect the Goods and Services Tax (GST), a requirement for GST-registered businesses under the guidelines of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore. Consumers are also advised to clarify with their salespersons if the GST payable is factored into the commission amount stated in the estate agency agreement.

He added: “CEA also has in place Prescribed Estate Agency Agreements, which are standard forms prescribed in the Estate Agents (Estate Agency Work) Regulations, that allow the estate agent to indicate whether it is GST-registered and whether GST is applicable or payable upon the transaction.

He confirmed that CEA has previously received similar feedback and is currently reviewing the standard forms to emphasise that if the estate agent is GST-registered then GST should be payable to the estate agent.


Source: PropGuru – 14 jun 2013


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