Since April 2016, NSmen who performed well in their roles and keep themselves physically fit are eligible to receive a NS Excellence Award to reward them for their commitment to operational readiness. However, it is a little known fact that this “Award” is taxable under Singapore law.
According to an Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) letter submitted by an anonymous netizen, it appears that the “reward” he received for performing well in his NS duties has been filed under his taxable income.
This faux pas comes despite then-Minister of State for Defence, Ong Ye Kung, stating that the awards are “forms of recognition… to let them know that their sacrifices are deeply appreciated, and for the greater good of Singapore.”
The rewards, usually in the form of token $100 vouchers, are only awarded to the top 10 – 20% of top performing NSmen.
Netizens have not taken kindly to the move to tax these rewards, with many netizens previously unaware that such “rewards” are taxable.
Some even commented that the decision to tax such award vouchers sends a contradictory signal to NS men, who are exhorted to perform well but are then penalized for it.
Reporters who approached MINDEF and IRAS received replies directing them to sections of their FAQs, which they say state very clearly that the NSEA vouchers are fully taxable.