Our de facto English newspaper reported today that the raft of cooling measures imposed to tame the red-hot property market has delivered more than $1 billion in additional levies to the taxman.
The surge in revenue was bolstered following the additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) of up to 15% that was rolled out in January.
About $158 million in ABSD was netted in February and March, bringing the total until March to $1.03 billion since the tax was introduced in December 2011, according to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras).
The January measures - the seventh since September 2009 - also marked the first time that Singaporean investors buying their second homes were penalised with an additional tax.
Foreigners have forked out $580 million in ABSD for 3,041 homes from December 2011 to March this year, while Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) have stumped up $386 million for 7,269 homes, Iras noted. Non-individuals such as companies paid a further $66 million in levies for 285 units.
Home owners have also paid $66.6 million in seller's stamp duties since that levy was introduced in 2010.
This tax of up to 16% is meant to curb speculation and applies to those who sell their homes within four years of purchase.
Experts say the new-sale market has continued to be healthy despite the measures as developers dangle discounts and other incentives to alleviate the ABSD's sting.
Savills Singapore research head Alan Cheong estimates that 30 to 40% of buyers at new launches since the January measures came in are second, third or subsequent home buyers.
"They are creating reasons to buy. It could be for rental income when the population grows to over six million, capital gains or to hedge against the possibility of their children not being able to afford homes in the future," he said.
Iras said Singaporeans and PRs bought 1,031 homes subject to the ABSD in February and March, contributing $97.7 million in additional taxes. They are subject to ABSD rates ranging from 5 to 10%.
Foreigners, subject to a 15% ABSD for all purchases, bought 232 homes with a total of $58.2 million in ABSD collected in the same period. Non-individuals acquired 13 homes with a total of $1.84 million netted.
Foreigners seem to have retreated from the market after the applicable ABSD rate of 10% was increased to 15% in January.
In February and March last year, when only the 10% levy applied, they bought 315 units, according to caveats lodged with the Urban Redevelopment Authority, 36% more than this year.
So everytime you buy a car, our "cheng hu" makes money. And when you buy a second or more private homes these days, our "cheng hu" makes even more money. So is this what the Chinese termed as "鹬蚌相争，渔翁得利" (The fisherman will benefit from the fight between the Mussel and Snipe)..?
And just in case your wondering where the Chinese idiom "鹬蚌相争，渔翁得利" came from:
Seven states were locked in battle at the end of the Warring States Period (220-280 AD). The Duke Hui of the State of Zhao wanted to conquer the State of Yan (Real Bad). That is, until he talked to Su Dai, one of those advisers.
Su said: "One fine day, a mussel went out to the beach to sunbathe. Meanwhile a snipe (which is a kind of bird that looks like a sandpiper with a long bill) caught sight of the tasty tidbit. He plunged to bite the meat. But the mussel immediately closed up, meaning the snipe could not pull out its beak out of the shell. Both of them became locked in mortal combat. Along came a fisherman and bagged them both.
"If you go to conquer Yan now, Zhao and Yan will be like the mussel and the snipe. Meanwhile the strong Qin State will be make like the fisherman and gobble up both territories."
And so Duke Hui never ate seafood again (just kidding). The idiom of course refers to a mutually-destructive battle between two parties, especially one involving unshakeable principles, thus leaving the coast clear for a third party to swoop in late and sweep up the spoils.
Explanation courtesy of SOHU.com