We are a very focused business advisory firm – working exclusively with internationally operating clients.
Our primary focus is on foreign companies doing business with Singapore, from exporting or selling online in Singapore and the region to setting up a permanent establishment in Singapore, through to establishing a subsidiary or even by employing just one person in Singapore.
These scenarios involve an array of administrative, tax, legal, business and accounting challenges that most professional advisers are unable to deal with holistically.
To our niche client base we offer a comprehensive range of services, from high-level tax consulting to basic bookkeeping, to setting up entities, providing the legally required local director and assisting expats.
Our Singaporean team is supported by colleagues from other Sheltons Group offices, in particular our Sydney office. Ned Shelton is also heavily involved.
Our systems and procedures ensure that the matter at hand is not dependent on the availability of a particular person – we work as a team.
We also work in a way that enables us at all times to easily avail of the resources in any of the other Sheltons Group offices.
Accounting and related
Providing the full range of accounting services to Singapore-based and foreign-based businesses’ Singapore units is our daily bread and butter. Our language skills, knowledge of non-Singaporean (and Singaporean) accounting software, familiarity with relevant aspects in many overseas countries, and familiarity with what foreigners find odd about Singaporean accounting (and related areas) equip us well to serve our foreign-based clients.
We prepare accounts from source documents, or on the basis of preliminary work from the client, taking Singaporean and overseas rules, and the client’s wishes, into account.
We use a variety of accounting software packages.
We prepare statutory (legally required) accounts – as well as regular management accounts, with or without reports, analyses, etc.
We also prepare special-purpose accounts (such as pro forma accounts) and consolidated accounts.
Our services include reviewing client-prepared accounts and supporting the client’s internal accounting team, as appropriate.
We are ‘fluent’ in Singaporean accounting standards as well as IFRS and the equivalent in countries where we have offices – and we have a good knowledge of the GAAP or similar in a number of other countries.
- Audit assistance
We play an important role in liaising with the Singaporean and overseas auditors of the client’s Singaporean companies. We have clear systems for preparing material to facilitate efficient audits.
We can often satisfy all questions from the auditors or at least significantly reduce the time demands on the client.
We very regularly liaise with the auditors of other parts of the group.
As a completely independent firm, we are not a member of any accounting network, resulting in a comfortable relationship with the auditors, whether they be in Singaporean or overseas. Our independence is of special importance when the auditors are not – where they are part of an international network.
- GST (VAT) services
Much of the accounting work we do is driven by GST tax compliance needs.
We assist with all aspects of GST from registration to setting up routines with our clients to the preparation and filing of returns, ensuring that filing deadlines are met.
See also under GST (VAT) advice
- Salary administration
Apart from advising employers and employees on the Singaporean tax aspects of the employment (see under Local tax advice and compliance) we provide efficient payroll administration services.
Many of our client cases involve employers based in other countries, directly employing staff in Singapore. Similarly, we work with Singaporean employers with employees overseas.
The employees may well be Singaporean residents or non-residents in Singaporean for shorter or longer assignments, and may be in Singaporean under temporary work visas. Different circumstances can have different consequences in terms of the employees tax on the salary income.
Providing payroll administration services for foreign businesses, or Singaporean units thereof, often involves extensive interaction with the foreign part of the group. We pride ourselves in our ability to understand the needs of the foreign parts of the group and in our flexibility in providing the services.
For Singaporean based businesses with overseas employees, or with subsidiaries overseas with employees, we not only provide advice on any Singaporean ramifications but we can either do or arrange the payroll administration and assist with all other employer obligations in the overseas country. Where needed we can identify a suitable partner in the overseas country to complement our services.
Our broad range of services to employers, whether Singaporean-based or based overseas, with employees in Singaporean, covers matters such as
- Employer registration
- Drafting and review of employment contracts
- Visa assistance
- Generation of payslips
- Reporting to the IRAS
- Assistance with payment (net salaries, tax, etc)
- Annual administration (reports to the tax authorities, the employer and the employees)
Apart from providing advice on employer obligations, we also provide comprehensive tax advice and expat relocation services.
Local tax advice and compliance
Sheltons is widely recognised as a being a leading independent firm in the area of tax and international tax advice. The origins of our international tax expertise goes back to Ned’s career in tax and international tax in Australia, in The Netherlands (where he founded Sheltons as an independent Dutch and international tax advisory firm) and in Denmark, where he commenced the Danish office of Sheltons in 1995. As all clients have always been internationally operating, or always had international issues, Sheltons has developed significant expertise in the international tax area.
Although Sheltons commenced as a dedicated international tax consulting firm, we have branched out, in all our offices, and are now a specialist accounting firm, but still working only with internationally operating businesses and individuals with international issues. Tax is still a very strong string to our bow.
It is no coincidence that the very first employee in our Singapore office is a Tax Manager.
- Tax compliance
At the Singaporean end. Our tax compliance services cover areas such as personal and company tax return preparation; obtaining tax residence certificates; obtaining tax clearance certificates; GST registration and administration; Estimated Chargeable Income (ECI) filing; handling procedures for paying reduced withholding taxes and for requesting refunds thereof.
At the overseas end. Using our own resources or, where necessary, by bringing in competent overseas firms to complement our services, we look after the overseas tax compliance obligations of Singaporean-based businesses as well.
- Corporate tax
Our services on corporate tax covers a wide range. Some key areas on which we commonly advise are as follows:
- Corporate tax generally
- Deductibility of interest
- Determination of tax residency
- Assistance re selection of legal form
- Investing in real estate
- Tax efficient financing
- Tax planning
- The application of anti-avoidance rules
- Thin capitalisation rules
- Transfer pricing
- Treatment of foreign exchange gains and losses
See also under ‘Tax compliance’, above, and ‘Singaporean international tax – corporate’, and ‘International tax’, below.
- Personal tax – including Singapore international tax
Our services here cover a wide range. Some key areas on which we commonly provide advice are as follows.
- Residency issues
- Salary packaging
- Structuring local investments
- Tax issues connected with pensions and the like
- Tax planning
- Taxation of Singaporean-sourced investment income
- Taxation of foreign-sourced investment income
- Taxation of expats coming to Singapore
- Taxation on departing Singapore
- Taxation on working abroad
See also under Corporate tax, Singaporean international tax – corporate and International tax
- Singaporean international tax – corporate
Our services in the area of Singaporean international corporate tax cover a wide range. Some key areas on which we commonly provide advice are as follows:
- Beneficial ownership under treaties
- Controlled foreign company (CFC) matters
- Determination of the profits attributable to a permanent establishment – in Singapore and abroad
- Existence – or not – of a permanent establishment in Singapore
- Existence of permanent establishment abroad
- Management and control
- Planning for foreign investment income
- Reducing Singaporean and foreign withholding taxes
- Residency under tax treaties
- Structuring investments abroad
- Tax planning
- Tax treaty application
- Tax treaty interpretation
- Taxation of foreign real estate owned by Singaporean taxpayers
- Thin capitalisation rules
- Transfer of residency to and from Singapore
- Transfer pricing
- Treatment of foreign exchange gains and losses
- Withholding tax refunds
- See also under GST (VAT) services and International tax
See also under ‘Corporate tax’ and ‘Personal tax – including Singaporean international tax’, above and International tax, below.
- GST (VAT) advice
- GST on import
- Disputes with the tax authorities
- Eligibility for registration
- GST groups
- GST issues generally
- Non-residents’ liability to GST
- On-line sales into Singapore
See also under GST (VAT) services and International tax
Entity set-up and management
Our extensive international experience built up across our offices means we are often quite familiar with the shareholders’ jurisdictions and the shareholding entity – whether it be a US LLC, a German GmbH, an Indian Pvt Ltd, a Brazilian Limitada, a UK LLP, a Dutch closed CV, etc.
Before setting up any entity in Singapore, we can advise our clients on the selection of the right legal form as well as on the relevant business and tax implications of each choice.
Aside from the entity incorporation, we can also assist our clients with all necessary (business) registrations as well as to deal with a variety of legal, labour, administrative, banking, and operative issues.
Domiciliation (director, registered office, public officer, etc)
When a foreign-based business establishes a company in Singapore, there will always be period, often a matter of years, until the new company has its own senior management in Singapore.
We provide not only the legally required registered office but we often provide the legally required local Singaporean resident director and company secretary.
Even when the entity has its own premises in Singapore the client often prefers that we continue to provide the registered office in order to ensure that important post (snail mail), often of legal importance, is handled professionally and with the appropriate degree of confidentiality.
Due to our local legal knowledge, when the client does reach the stage of having their own senior management we are often asked to remain as director even if the client appoints their own local director.
Singapore is a common law jurisdiction and local companies are required to comply with various obligations set out in the Singaporean Companies Act 1967.
Singaporean companies must have at least one Singaporean resident director and one Singaporean resident company secretary.
Our services cover attending to all shareholder and director meetings and resolutions to support various company changes, annual corporate maintenance, holding the corporate register and filing all required documents and notifications with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
We have well-developed systems and procedures in place and our years of experience in forming and administering Singaporean entities has resulted in the development of extensive knowledge, systems, models and routines in this regard.
Relocation of expats
As a consequence of our efforts to serve our international clients in all their local needs we focus our support and also advise and assist on a broad range of relocation services for their employees.
The services we deliver, directly or with input from our local contacts when necessary, include assistance in each of the following areas:
- Accommodation search
- Bank account opening
- Connecting utilities
- Culture familiarisation
- Importing a (used) car
- Pets relocation services
- Insurance matters
- Language courses
- Moving-out services
- Obtaining a driver’s licence
- Other registrations
- Preparing a move-in report
- Public transport
- Removals – transport
- Subscriptions (telephone, internet, TV, etc)
- Tax registration
- Visas and residence permits
International tax services
Please click to learn more about our International Tax Services