Any company whether local or foreign that intends to supply goods and services in Singapore and expects that their supply will exceed S$1 million per year must register with the Inland Revenue Authorities for GST.
GST also known as Goods and Services Tax is a broad based tax on the supply of goods and services in Singapore.
As a foreign company who wishes to supply goods and services in singapore, the authorities provides two alternatives, the first of which is under section 33(1) known as Section 33(1) agent. The foreign company has to register with the authorities for the purposes of GST. It also has to appoint a local person or body under 33(1) that acts on the foreign company behalf on all GST matters. This 33(1) agent is responsible for the accounting and payment of GST.
The position of the S33(1)agent is such that it becomes responsible for all matters of payment and liabilities of the foreign company. In essence it represent the foreign company as such that the 33(1) agent and the foreign company are one and the same. This would mean that should the foreign company not be able to pay for its GST tax liabilities for any reason, the local agent becomes liable for the payment. In this situation, the overseas company supplies the goods locally and collects the GST that is payable to the authorities. What control does the 33(1) agent has over the transactions? Therefore only the brave would venture to offer themselves as a section 33(1) agent.
Another alternative, is the section 33(2) agent, where the overseas company does not need to register for GST but it appoints an agent under this section. The section 33(2) agents then acts as the principal and all goods imported or purchased are in his “hands”. The section 33(2) agent then supplies the goods and account for the GST. In this scenario, the S33(2) agents has “control” over the transactions.
Therefore it is easy to see why there is very little information on section 33(1) agent.
At the end of the day, the tax authorities are concerned with collecting tax due to them and there has to be some one who is accountable. So the individual who act as the agent under section 33(1) and 33(2) is effectively the accountable party even though they may have no control over the bank account.