Budget 2019: Up to $200 income tax relief, other goodies in store with Bicentennial Bonus

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat delivering his Budget 2019 speech in Parliament on Monday (18 February). (PHOTO: YouTube screengrab)

As part of the $1.1 billion Bicentennial Bonus, Singaporeans will get a 50 per cent personal income tax rebate, subject to a cap of $200, for the 2019 year of assessment.

This was announced by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in Parliament on Monday (18 February), while delivering the Budget for Financial Year 2019 (1 April 2019 to 30 March 2020).

Heng told the House that he had set the cap at $200 so that the main beneficiaries would be middle-income earners.

Other components of the Bicentennial Bonus include special GST Voucher payments of up to $300, which will benefit 1.4 million Singaporeans.

Lower-income workers who receive Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) payments will also get a Workfare Bicentennial Bonus. This consists of an additional 10 per cent of their WIS cash payment for work done in 2018, with a minimum payment of $100 and a maximum payment of $240.

There will also be additional support for older Singaporeans who are near retirement. Eligible Singaporeans aged 50 to 64 in 2019 and who have less than $60,000 in retirement savings in their Central Provident Fund (CPF) account, will receive a CPF top up of up to $1,000.

Heng noted that the majority of these recipients would be women.

“Many of them left the workforce early and took up important roles as mothers, caregivers or housewives. As a result, they have fewer years to build up their savings. This top-up is a way to recognise their contributions and to help them save more,” said the minister.

Edusave top-ups, conservancy rebates

Primary and secondary school students will also receive a $150 top-up to their Edusave accounts, on top of existing contributions from the government.

Singaporeans aged 17 to 20 will also receive up to $500 in their Post­-Secondary Education Accounts, which will go towards helping parents to save for their tertiary education.

In addition to the Bicentennial Bonus, HDB households will also be given another year of rebates on their service and conservancy charges. Eligible Singaporean households will receive rebates amounting to between one-and-a-half and three-and-a-half months.

This will cost $132 million and benefit about 930,000 households.

The Public Transport Fund will also get a $10 million top-up, aimed at helping lower-income commuters through avenues such as Public Transport Vouchers.

Bicentennial Community Fund

As part of the Singapore Bicentennial celebrations, Heng also announced that $200 million would be set aside for a Bicentennial Community Fund. This will provide dollar-for-dollar matching for donations made to Institutions of a Public Character (IPC) for FY 2019.

“With this, we hope to further encourage more Singaporeans, including younger Singaporeans, to embrace the spirit of giving back,” said Heng.

“The fund will be designed to ensure a good distribution of support for all donations to IPCs which currently do not receive government matching, and to increase the impact of the good work they are doing.”

Heng was delivering his first Budget since being appointed as the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) first assistant secretary-general last November, putting him in pole position to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

In December, Singapore’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Foo Chi Hsia said that Heng would succeed Lee if the PAP wins the next General Election.

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