COVID-19 Relief Measures: Upcoming Legislative Provisions To Impose Obligation on Property Owners To Pass On The Property Tax Rebate In Full To Tenants

April 3, 2020

  1. The Government will introduce new legislation at the next sitting of Parliament (on or about 7 April 2020), to place an obligation on property owners to pass on to their tenants the property tax rebate (PDF, 69KB) attributable to the rented property (“proposed provisions”).
  2. In the FY2020 Budget and the FY2020 Supplementary Budget announced on 18 February and 26 March 2020 respectively, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Mr Heng Swee Keat announced a property tax rebate of up to 100% for non-residential properties, for the tax payable in 2020. The rebate is intended to help businesses deal with the impact from COVID-19. For most properties, the 100% property tax rebate works out to more than one month of rent. The rebate is granted to the owner of the property, who is liable for the property tax, in respect to each property tax account. Details of the rebate are in the Annex. In his Statements, the Deputy Prime Minister strongly urged property owners to pass on the property tax rebate to their tenants by reducing rentals.
  3. We are appreciative of those property owners who are fully passing on the rebate to their tenants. In some instances, property owners have gone further, to reduce rentals by an amount that is greater than their quantum of the rebate. In so doing, they have taken a step further to help their tenants and share the burden during this time of uncertainty.
  4. However, the Government has also received feedback that other property owners have not yet passed on the rebate to their tenants. The proposed provisions ensure that property owners who have not passed on the rebate will do so.
  5. Subject to Parliament’s approval, the proposed provisions and subsequent subsidiary legislation will:
    • Impose an obligation on property owners to pass on to their tenants the full amount of property tax rebate received for each property tax account that is attributable to the tenanted property. Owners receive property tax rebate for each of their qualifying property tax accounts, just as they pay property tax for each account. For instance, under the proposed provisions, if a property tax account is for premises wholly rented out to a tenant, the owner is required to pass the rebate received, if any, to the tenant fully;
    • Ensure that the rebate is passed on in a timely manner according to prescribed timeline;
    • Prohibit property owners from imposing conditions when passing on the property tax rebate; and
    • Allow a Valuation Review Panel (comprising members from the Valuation Review Board constituted under the Property Tax Act), to adjudicate disputes between the property owner and the tenant, in relation to the property tax rebate to be passed on to the tenant. Property owners who fail to fully pass on the property tax rebate attributable to the rented property unconditionally to the tenant concerned, without reasonable excuse, will be guilty of an offence.

Further details on the conditions for pass-through of the property tax rebate (PDF, 69KB) to tenants will be made known via the subsidiary legislation and IRAS’s website.