Everything You Need to Know about the Supplement Retirement Scheme (SRS)

14 Jun 2016 
SOURCE: Big Fat Purse

​​Supplement Retirement Scheme (SRS) is a voluntary saving scheme that complements your CPF savings for retirement. The Scheme is open to everyone living in Singapore and Citizens, Permanent Residents and Foreigners are all allowed to open an SRS account. Other than to increase one's retirement nest egg, contributing to the SRS account also allows you to reduce your income tax bill.


The SRS provides two key tax saving benefits.

  1. Tax saving benefit on contribution
  2. Tax saving benefit on withdrawal


Tax saving benefit on contribution

When you contribute to your SRS account, your chargeable income will be reduced by the amount of your contribution.

For example, if you have racked up $120,000 in chargeable income, your income tax bill will be $7,950 based on the progressive income tax rate by IRAS. If you choose to contribute $12,750 to your SRS account, your chargeable income will be reduced to $107,250 ($120,000 – $12,750) and your income tax payable will become $6483.75.

Here are how the numbers look like

  • Without SRS contribution
    • Chargeable Income: $120,000
    • Income Tax : $7,950
  • With $12,750 SRS contribution
    • Chargeable Income: $107,250
    • Income Tax : $6,483.75
    • Tax saving: $1,466.25

Simply by contributing $12,750 to your SRS account, you will be able to reduce your income tax by $1466.25. That is the equivalent to a brand new laptop!

It does sound very enticing but please do note that there is a yearly contribution limit to your SRS account. The limits are $15,300 per year for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents and $35,700 for foreigners.


Tax saving benefit on withdrawal

The second tax saving benefit for SRS occurs when you withdraw your money from the SRS account. Only 50% of the amount that you withdraw from your SRS account is taxable if the withdrawal is after the retirement age (62 years old at the point of writing).

It is also important to take note that the SRS withdrawal can be spread across a maximum of 10 years (unless you have invested in an Annuity or Endowment Plan, you will then be able to withdraw for more than 10 years) to enjoy maximum tax saving benefit.

Below is the example given by IRAS. If you have $400,000 balance in your SRS account, the withdrawal plan and tax payable is as below:


Everything looks great. Should you open SRS account immediately then? Before you head out to do just that, here are some factors you might want to consider.


Three Things to Note

Basically, there are 3 key things you need to take note:


Penalty on withdrawal before retirement age

SRS savings are for retirement purposes. You should withdrawal the money only after the retirement age. However, if you wish to withdraw the money before retirement age, 100% of the withdrawal amount will be taxable.

In addition, a 5% penalty charge will be imposed to your withdrawal. For instance, if you withdraw your SRS account by $40,000 when you are 61 years old, you will be subjected to additional taxable income of $40,000 and also a $2,000 penalty charge.


Therefore, you must ensure that you have planned for your finances properly before you deciding to contribute to the SRS account.

There are specific circumstances where you are allowed to withdraw your money from the SRS account before retirement age with no penalty charge. Please read about it here.


Direct property investment is not allowed

Currently, IRAS does not provide a list of approved investment products. You will need to check with your SRS operator for the investment instruments that is allowed. Generally, there are not many restrictions on the use of money in the SRS account; you are free to invest in almost any instrument of your choice.

However, direct property investment is strictly not allowed. If you are planning to purchase a property in the near future, you should not open an SRS account.


Potentially pay more tax on withdrawal

The last but the most important point to take note is that you may end up paying more tax if you contribute to your SRS account at wrong time. The concept is pretty easy to comprehend but the calculation is tedious and complex.

It goes like this. If you contribute to your SRS account at your early age, your SRS account will grow to a big amount when you are retired. You will receive tax saving benefit from your contribution to SRS account.

However, during the withdrawal period after retirement, you may ended up withdrawing a large amount of money and hence be required to pay the correspondingly high income tax. Even though only 50% of the withdrawal amount is taxable, large sum withdrawals will still put you in an expensive tax bracket.

Therefore, even though the SRS can potentially allow you to save tax, the timing of when you should contribute to SRS account is critical. There is an optimum age when you will benefit the most for contributing to your SRS account. Generally, the optimum age will be around 40-45 years old. Do note however, that this optimum age vary from person to person. The following factors will affect your optimum age.

  1. Your age
  2. Your estimated income growth rate
  3. Your income tax bracket
  4. Your estimated investment return
  5. Your estimated inflation rate

To compute the optimum age is rather tedious and complex, I have developed a calculator just for that. You can download it here.


In Conclusion

SRS will definitely provide you tax saving benefit. However, it is crucial to know when you should contribute to your account. If not you may end up paying more tax in the future.

You can approach DBS, OCBC or UOB bank to open your SRS account. Please note that the information on this page is not exhaustive. I am just summarizing all the important points. For more information on SRS, kindly visit the IRAS and MOF website.


Before you go, don't forget to download the SRS Calculator which will help you determine your optimal age to start contributing to your SRS:

Download The SRS Calculator Here


This article first appeared on BigFatPurse

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