The Income Tax (Amendment) Act 1996 and the Stamp Duties (Amendment) Act 1996 were passed to curb speculation in Singapore's real estate market. The amendments, which became effective on May 15 1996, apply to certain real property and related share transactions. Gains from disposal of any real property and shares in a private company with specified real estate assets occurring within three years from the date of acquisition of such interests are now automatically subject to income tax. The gain that is subject to tax depends on the holding period of the interest after acquisition.
Where a loss is incurred from the disposal, the relevant amount of the loss is deductible against gains arising from the disposal of any real property or relevant shares within the same year. Excess losses may not be carried forward. In the case of non-resident sellers, up to 15% of the sale price must be withheld at the time of payment.
In Singapore, stamp duty is payable on property and share transactions. Now additional stamp duty is also payable by the seller if disposal occurs within three years from date of acquisition. Furthermore, stamp duty is now payable at the time the contract for disposal is entered into instead of at completion of the sale, as was the case previously.
The Evidence Act was also amended in 1996 to facilitate the use of information technology in the court room. Computer output is now admissible as evidence in specified circumstances. Witnesses in civil proceedings may, with the court's leave, testify via live video and television links.