Saturday, September 23, 2017

Should Grab & Uber Drivers Be Taxed On Their Income

This has been a hot topic this week since The Sunday Times came out with the article last Sunday that IRAS will be working with Grab & Uber to link the applications to IRAS in order to simplify the drivers’ need to input the gross fares less the call levy charged by Grab & Uber.

Personally, I felt that the article had failed to address that, like taxi drivers who rent their vehicles from the taxi companies, most of the drivers had rented their vehicles from car rental companies. The rental is a deductible expense to the driver. The petrol used is also a tax deductible expense. The driver can also claim parking of the car, ERP charges incurred when the car is not ferrying any passengers and car wash expenses. The concept should be as the same for taxi drivers.

For those drivers that use their own car, they can claim the commercial insurance for the car. A car for personal use only has personal car insurance, but commercial cars are allowed to ferry passengers.

This should not be confused by the fact that private car expenses, whether for personal or business use are not eligible for deduction. I feel that they are just like taxis.

I feel that the Straits Times should issue a clarification to the article, otherwise it will scare off the Grab & Uber drivers and make them return the cars to the car rental companies.

IRAS should also issue a Statement of Account Template, like what they did for the taxi drivers and hawkers.

When I did the community e-filing for the taxi drivers this year, I did come across cabbies who moved on to drive private hire vehicles and they still declared their income in accordance to what they did when they were taxi drivers.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Silent Heroes Awards Night 2017

Some of you who known me for quite some time would have known that I was a Silent Hero Award winner in 2015, as my friend had nominated me for the award  for my contributions to the IRAS Volunteer E-Filing Exercise from 2005 to 2015 & my grassroots work .

The organization who gave out the award, Hillview Civilians Sports Club had been looking to form an alumni for the past winners to guide the new winners as an inspiration. I thought this was a brilliant gesture by them as most of the past silent heroes will know what one another are doing and contribute or share ideas to make each hero’s idea better.

Little did I expect to be asked to try to gather the group at the last minute for the Awards dinner and prepare a speech about what I have done in the 2 years after I have won the award. It was fortunate that I managed to gather 6 out of the 11 heroes in the WhatsApp Group Chat and the speech went well, despite the short time I was given to prepare for it and it is definitely my 1st time on stage speaking to large crowd. I would like to thank the fellow heroes for their encouragement and support and my friend, Xiuling for helping me to edit the grammar errors.

Below is the full text of the speech that I have made.

Good evening to our Guest of Honour, Mr Chan Chun Sing, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is Paul, The Silent Hero Award Winner for 2015, Champions of Challenges
Category Winner. Two years on, I still feel deeply humbled and honoured to have received the award for assisting taxpayers, comprising mainly of taxi drivers and hawkers at the Serangoon Community Club since I was 24. The volunteer program was put to a stop by IRAS in 2016, but I continued the programme, with the help of various community groups and several friends whom I have known during the 11 years when I volunteered for the programme. In the 2 years, we have assisted about 500 people to e-file their taxes. In fact, we are looking to continue the programme next year, if we are able to secure a low-cost location for this. I am deeply grateful to these people and organisations from the bottom of my heart.

The reasons that are fueling this passion of mine, is because, I want to help these people who are disadvantaged by their lack of knowledge in IT and command of the English language, to skip the long queues at IRAS during the tax filing period, thus taking away their precious time to earn their income as they have families to feed. The second reason is till today, I am still receiving help in one way or another from people from all walks of life. For example, bus captains who would wait for me when they see me walking towards the bus, knowing that my condition, cerebral palsy will slow me down. Being able to volunteer my services to the people who need it, I feel is the best way to pay it forward for all the help I have received. The final reason is although I work in the tax industry, I have been dealing with corporate taxation matters for companies. In order not to lose the knowledge that I have learnt in school as well as the personal touch of interacting with people, I decided that this is a good and innovative way. Besides this, I am also a Pioneer Generation Ambassador, where together with another ambassador, we will visit the seniors to explain the various government schemes to them. Moreover, I am also serving as a grassroots leader.

These volunteer works that I am involved in have certainly enriched my life experiences, and helped me to look at life in a more positive manner. Now I always tell myself, what else I can contribute to make our city a better place. The award has certainly opened up my horizons to make our city a better place to live in, a city filled with people with a heart of gold. I also hope to inspire people who has similar medical condition as me to look at life positively and live it to the fullest and to the best of our ability. Life is always filled with trials and tribulations.

Thank you.

 Hopefully, the alumni will receive the support of fellow heroes to go ahead. However, if it does not go ahead, I would not be upset as I believe that most people would want to do their good deeds quietly and do not wish to be in the limelight.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

My Volunteer Journey

I believe that I have shared this when some of my new friends, community service partners had asked me about why I am volunteering despite my physical disability.

I have always received help since my school days, where the janitor would carry me to the toilet or classroom when I was in Primary 1. Fellow classmates would help me to buy food from the school canteen. In my polytechnic days, bus captains would wait for me if they see me approaching the bus stop and assist me when needed. These are some of the deeds that I received from such nice people even until today, although I must say that the level of graciousness have dropped over the years.

I started volunteering in 2005, when I was working as a tax assistant in my previous company. The reason was the company had too little personal tax clients and I did not want to lose my personal tax knowledge. As the saying goes, if you have the skill, but if you did not use it, you will lose it. The opportunity came by when IRAS started the Volunteer e-filing program in that year, where they recruited volunteers to e-file the taxes of people who needed help in their tax filing at the various CCs. I was fortunate that the CCs that I volunteered at were conveniently located near my house. When I first started, I never anticipated that I was going to last till the cessation of the program and it actually started my volunteer journey in grassroots in 2011 & Pioneer Generation Ambassador in 2015.

During the course of volunteering all these years, I have learnt many things that enhanced my knowledge about the various government policies, my work and really see the the need that when people need help, they are really in need of help, especially the older folks. This was the reason why I decided to continue to assist people to e-file their taxes, even after the Volunteer e-filing program ceased as my friends and I recognised that these seniors will have problems navigating the IRAS website due to language barriers and not being IT savvy.

The satisfaction is not from I receiving the awards for volunteering my services. I have received quite a number of them. The satisfaction comes from the smiles you see from their faces after you have helped them. It also helps to take away the stress from my work.

I am also glad to share that I made many like minded friends who shared the love of volunteering with me and these friendships have been long. Although, there are volunteers who always crave for awards and recognition, I try my best to stay clear of them nowadays.

I hope with this story, it helps you to understand why I volunteer and maybe inspire you to join me as a volunteer.

Busy Month for September & October

It has been a while since I last blogged as I have been busy due to work. My manager has been on long medical leave due to an operation. She...