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Budget 2019: Top-ups for students, GST Vouchers part of S$1.1b Bicentennial Bonus

SINGAPORE — About 1.4 million lower-income Singaporeans will receive up to S$300 in GST Vouchers at the end of this year, as part of the S$1.1 billion Bicentennial Bonus announced by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday (Feb 18).

Budget 2019: Top-ups for students, GST Vouchers part of S$1.1b Bicentennial Bonus

About 570,000 younger Singaporeans will receive a one-off top-up to their Edusave or Post-Secondary Education Accounts this year.

SINGAPORE — About 1.4 million lower-income Singaporeans will receive up to S$300 in GST Vouchers at the end of this year, as part of the S$1.1 billion Bicentennial Bonus announced by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday (Feb 18).

WHO’S ELIGIBLE FOR THE BICENTENNIAL PAYMENT?

Those aged 21 and above, who earned an income of up to S$28,000 in 2017, are eligible for the payout, called GST Voucher - Cash (Bicentennial Payment).

If their home’s annual value at the end of 2018 was S$13,000 or below, they will receive S$300. If their home’s annual value at the end of 2018 was more than S$13,000 but no more than S$21,000, they will receive S$150.

The annual values cover all public flats in Singapore and some private properties of lower value.

WORKFARE BICENTENNIAL BONUS

Employees under the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) scheme will receive an additional 10 per cent of their total Workfare payment for work done in 2018, with a minimum payment of $100. This will be given out in cash.

Infographic: Samuel Woo/TODAY

The payments are a way to commemorate Singapore’s bicentennial year, which marks 200 years since Sir Stamford Raffles landed here, said Mr Heng in his Budget 2019 speech.

“From time to time, when our finances allow, we share the surpluses with Singaporeans, and provide more help to those with specific needs,” he said.

TOP-UPS FOR STUDENTS AND THOSE APPROACHING RETIREMENT

About 570,000 younger Singaporeans will receive a one-off top-up to their Edusave or Post-Secondary Education Accounts this year.

Those aged 7 to 16 will receive S$150 in Edusave top-ups to help pay for various enrichment activities.

Those aged 17 to 20 will get S$500 in Post-Secondary Education Account top-ups if their home’s annual value is up to S$13,000 at the end of 2018, or top-ups of S$250 if their home’s annual value is higher.

About 300,000 Singaporeans aged 50 to 64 will also get top-ups to their Central Provident Fund Special or Retirement Accounts.

The majority of this lower-income group will be women, many of whom left the workforce early and had fewer years to build up their savings, said Mr Heng.

Those who are aged 50 to 54 this year will receive S$300 or S$500, depending on how much they have in their CPF Ordinary and Special Accounts.

Those aged 55 to 64 this year will receive S$600 or S$1,000, depending on how much they have in their CPF Ordinary and Special Accounts, or their Retirement Accounts.

Recipients of the top-ups will also have to meet other criteria, such as not owning more than one property.

PERSONAL INCOME TAX REBATE TARGETING LOWER AND MIDDLE-INCOME EARNERS

Resident individual taxpayers will receive a 50 per cent personal income tax rebate, subject to a cap of S$200, for income earned last year. This will cost the Government about S$280 million.

“The personal tax rebate is huge in percentage but small in cap. It reflects a better policy to share the country’s surpluses in a more targeted fashion to help those with greater need,” said Mr Chester Wee, a partner and International Tax Services Leader at assurance, tax and advisory services firm Ernst and Young Solutions.

BICENTENNIAL COMMUNITY FUND

Mr Heng will set aside S$200 million for the Bicentennial Community Fund to encourage individuals and corporations to give back to society.

The fund will provide dollar-for-dollar matching for donations made to Institutions of a Public Character from April 1 this year to March 31 next year. A cap will apply to each Institution of a Public Character.

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