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Grace Casket owner gets jail and fine for tax evasion, not declaring more than S$600,000 in income

SINGAPORE — The owner of funeral services company Grace Casket has been sentenced to jail and fined more than S$74,500 by a district court for omitting income of over S$244,000 to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras). 

Grace Tay Chor Ing's case only came to light when the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore conducted an audit on her parents' business, Teck Hin Undertaker.
Grace Tay Chor Ing's case only came to light when the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore conducted an audit on her parents' business, Teck Hin Undertaker.
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  • Grace Tay Chor Ing, the sole proprietor of Grace Caskets, pleaded guilty to one charge of tax evasion
  • She had omitted a total of S$607,258 of income from the years of assessment between 2017 and 2019, resulting in S$56,573.47 in taxes undercharged
  • She was sentenced to 25 days' jail and a fine of S$74,540.25

SINGAPORE — The owner of funeral services company Grace Casket has been sentenced to jail and a fine by a district court for omitting income of over S$600,000 in income tax filing to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras). 

On Monday (Dec 5), Grace Tay Chor Ing, the sole proprietor of the company, pleaded guilty to a single charge of income tax evasion and was sentenced to 25 days' imprisonment and a fine of S$74,540.25.  

Two other similar charges were taken into consideration for the 40-year-old’s sentencing.

According to documents for the charge that the prosecution proceeded with, Tay had omitted her income of S$244,206 from her personal income tax return for Year of Assessment 2018, which resulted in S$24,846.75 of taxes being undercharged.

Based on all three charges, Tay had omitted a total of S$607,258 of income from the years of assessment between 2017 and 2019, resulting in S$56,573.47 in taxes undercharged.

The court heard on Monday that Tay's case only came to light when Iras conducted an audit on Teck Hin Undertaker, her parents' business, of which she was also an employee and from which she was receiving a monthly income.

While the reasons for the audit were not stated in court, Iras said in a separate press statement after the hearing that audit findings have shown that small businesses, including funeral service companies, which have business practices that involve substantial cash transactions, no or poor record-keeping and weak internal controls or processes "have greater risk of tax non-compliance".

Iras' prosecutor Vidhya Maheantharan told the court that Tay had only reported her employment income from Teck Hin in her income tax return for Year of Assessment 2018, and had omitted to declare income that she had earned from her own company.

When Tay was interviewed by investigators in relation to the audit on her parents' business, she disclosed that she had sole proprietorship of Grace Casket, but that "business was minimal" and that she was not active in it.

However, it was later revealed that she had not been truthful in her statement, and that Grace Casket was really "thriving", Ms Vidhya said.

The prosecutor added that the amounts Tay failed to declare were not paltry sums. 

Tay's defence lawyer Liu Hern Kuan of Insights Law said that his client had voluntarily told Iras about her omissions and this should be considered as a mitigating factor for a lighter sentence. 

Mr Liu, who sought a jail term of between three and four weeks, said that his client had also been cooperative with the authorities and made full restitution to Iras. 

However, District Judge Janet Wang pointed out that Tay's disclosure to Iras was a case of Hobson's choice — in other words, Tay had no choice but to tell Iras of her tax omissions.  

"She was literally caught red-handed when the Iras officers raided her parents' home," the judge added.

"The accused was no babe in the woods. She was fully aware of her legal obligations, but selectively omitted to declare the income generated from her eponymous outfit. It was not a technical or accidental oversight." 

Tay is the second funeral director to find herself in court for tax evasion in recent times.

In late September, veteran undertaker Roland Tay Hai Choon was charged with evading income taxes and not registering his business for the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Among other charges, the 75-year-old founder of Direct Funeral Services stands accused of declaring his total income in 2011 to be S$121,051 when it was about S$1.03 million.

Three criminal charges under the Income Tax Act and another charge under the GST Act were brought against him.

Tay was offered bail of S$80,000 and will return to court on Jan 27, 2023.

Anyone found guilty of evading tax can be fined up to S$10,000 or jailed up to three years, or both.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misspelt the name of defence lawyer Liu Hern Kuan. We are sorry for the error.

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