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Tax Return – a Nightmare!!

I always knew moving between Countries where there is a different calendar tax-year was going to have some challenges – but I really didn’t know it would create such a nightmare.

I previously came out on my work secondment in the second half of 2011 – and this was called a tax-neutral status between the UK and Singapore – noting that I remained on the UK pay-roll, and simply had to return within 183 days to avoid any tax declarations in Singapore. I obviously adhered to this to prevent any immigration or taxation issues – and I thought it would be smooth to return back to Singapore. What I didn’t realise is that a form submission was not provided to the IRS (Singapore tax Authorities) which meant that they felt I owed the Singapore tax for 2011. I received a letter shortly after my arrival in early 2013, stating that they estimated my overdue tax was approx S$9100. Of course, I knew this was an error – but when they threaten that I can’t leave Singapore until I settle this tax liability, it did frighten me.

Anyway, I had to go through a bit of hoops to close this out – and my employer was very good to supporting me to get HMRC (UK Tax Authorities) to declare that I was a UK resident and paid and settled my taxes in the UK, during the time I was in Singapore. This was sent to the IRS and they accepted this and provided me an exemption declaration – phew. Unfortunately, during this process, the HMRC then felt I had to manually complete a 2011/2012 tax return, as they then felt I had paid too much tax. I have now requested that this gets closed out, as I do feel this is not the case, and I settled the right taxes during 2011/12 in the UK.

Then there was another issue, as I moved out in 1st Jan 2013, the HMRC thought I had to provide a UK tax return for 2012/2013 (which tax year ended in April 2013), because they felt I earned money after leaving my UK employer in the first quarter of 2013. I didn’t, so had to go through another round of hoops to get this closed out by the HMRC. They accepted this, luckily! Phew.

Then the third twist, inadvertently I was entered in the Employer payroll as starting my SG employment on 2nd Jan 2013, and not 1st Jan. This meant that when I received my bonus in April 2014, one day of this was actually taxable in the UK payroll. This also meant that I received one-day pay from the UK too. The bonus has now been subsequently reversed out (although I now need to receive this from the SG payroll), but I also need to retrospectively refund my UK pay, and receive the extra day pay in SG. More importantly, as I have just filed my 2014 tax return (for Jan – Dec 2013), this meant it was missing 1-day pay. Man – this is such a complicated issue, and such a trivial matter can cause a huge problem. Lets hope this last bit gets resolved.

Morale of the story, stay very very close to your tax affairs as a simple admin glitch can cause huge problems later on.

Standard Chartered – S$80 Cashback

Sad to say it, but I took a plunge to the dark side and successfully applied for a new Credit Card with Standard Chartered.  It was called the MasterCard World Manhatten card – so an elite card – with an offer of S$80 cashback upon activation.  It also provides 5% cashback for every charge – up to S$800 per year – nice!

I hope I can spend a bit on the card to get this level of cashback.

Someone also told me that if apply for another Standard Chartered credit card, you can get another S$80 cashback, so I might give this a go.  I will probably spend a few txns on the card, and cancel it upon annual renewal 🙂  Hopefully, that is!

Home Insurance – Peace of Mind

Well I finally sorted my home insurance – well that should be really content insurance – for my condo apartment. I was concerned about things like my electronics, and clothes etc – and as such I feel it would be good to have peace in mind.

I decided to go to Expat Insurance – and it only cost me S$154 for the appropriate cover that met my needs (another quote was over S$500 – so I got a bit of a saving, by reducing the cover to what I need). I wasn’t keen to go for a huge cover, just enough to come by personal effects.

Regardless, I just hope that nothing happens whilst I am here!

I just now need to get my Travel Insurance sorted – and possibly consider enhancing my Medical Insurance (that I get from Amex) to cover any additional coverage needs that I should consider…remember there is no National Health service here – so everything costs $$$ – which is totally a culture shock for my head!

Old tenant picked-up their furniture

I must admit, it should never be advertised as ‘fully furnished’, as the items that belonged to the previous tenant should not be listed on the property listing.  I think the landlord’s agent wasn’t that truthful, or really understood the definition or the difference – but alas, I gave the feedback 🙂

Well the agreement that I reached with the previous tenant was that they would pick-up their furniture by 15th January, having giving them about 2 and a half weeks grace period.  The challenge is that I didn’t make the purchase straightaway, as Ikea give you a date for delivery which you cannot choose – well at least if you change it, they charge you, so I had to make sure the apartment was clear of the previous furniture before I committed the purchase.  The previous tenant wanted to sell me their second-hand items – the sofa-bed, dining table, 2 dining chairs, 3 cabinets, a book case/side unit, and tv stand – for S$1k – but I said no to this.  Luckily, I didn’t make this purchase, as the items I am looking for only equate to about £$650 which is a nice saving 🙂

So before the Ikea delivery – the apartment looked a bit empty…

On the positive, I was able to use their items (dining table and sofa primarily) whilst they were in my apartment, but I also now need to make a purchase 🙂  So have already looked at the Ikea SG website, and think I know what to buy.

  • Solsta Pällbo Footstool for S$10.90
  • Bjursta Extendable Dining Table S$149.00
  • Lycksele Lövås 2 Seater Sofa-Bed S$315.00
  • Lack Side / Coffee Table S$12.90
  • Börje Dining Chair (x2) S$130.00
  • Laiva TV Bench S$25.90

All for S$643.70 exc S$65 delivery charge.  And I get a S$50 voucher for spending over S$500 🙂

I even managed to build the items myself without major issue…it finally feels like home, and I have some nice new items that make it personal to me now – perfect 🙂

Collection of my 2 Year Employment Pass

Well, as efficient as always, the Ministry of Manpower confirmed that my card was ready for pick-up on Friday, 11th January – only took a few days, having provided my biometrics on Monday.

I can now work legally for a couple of years (at least) in Singapore.  The final piece has slotted into place very nicely.  It does feel good!

Mum returns to Hong Kong

Well it’s time to say good bye to mum for the moment.  She enjoyed her holiday and I think it was good that she was able to help me settle in to my apartment – it was such a task to do on my own, that an extra pair of hands was very helpful.  Even just visiting the dozen or so apartments took it out of me.

So mum now returns to Hong Kong this afternoon before she makes her way back to the UK on 15th January.  Lets see when she returns back out 🙂  Hehe!

Getting used to the local area

After a couple of weeks, I have finally settled into my local area – I’ve found the local shopping malls, the supermarkets, the wet market, the food courts.  I just need to find out a few things to do (sports, events, photography, language courses) to keep me busy.  On a serious note, I was thinking of learning Mandarin, but I think this is going to be a bit tough going – but I think I might give it a go.

Now, I just need to start booking those little side trips again – I’m keen to start exploring more of Asia – and Singapore is an ideal base.  I want to visit Indonesia, Philippines, Burma (Myanmar), Laos and more of Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.  I better get cracking – hehe.

Return to Singapore – time to settle into my apartment :)

Well, after a very relaxing trip to Hong Kong, eating, drinking, sightseeing and shopping (repeating this continously!), it was time to say goodbye to the cooler climate (that is “cooler” than Singapore – but “warmer” than the UK) and enjoy the time back in my new location.  I should really start calling Singapore my new “home” location – hehe.

Anyway, having arrived late on Friday, 28th December – the JetStar flight was quite uneventful, although slightly more turbulent than last time.  I decided to book the Hotel Re! at Pearl Hill (in Outram Park district) for the night, as I wasn’t sure I was able to pick-up the key of my new apartment on Friday from my agent.

It was nice being back at the hotel – and we had one final meal in and around China Town, before making it back to the hotel.  On Saturday, we decided to make those final purchases around China Town before returning back to the hotel to collect our luggage to go to the new Condo Apartment.  I think I’m getting there with all of the purchases – but until I move in and unpack, I really don’t know what other things I need to buy (apart from things for the kitchen and lounge area).

Going to definitely be a bit stressful for the next couple of days before I start to prepare my mind for my first day of work in the new team.

Condo Hunting – How joyful!

Apartment (condo) hunting is very tiring work – after seeing about 10 or so places from a couple of different agents, I think I’m condo’ed out!

I think I started really badly because I set my rental range too high – about S$4,000, my mum suggested that I reduce the range to S$2,500-3,000 to ensure I don’t spend more than I should on the accommodation. I think this is wise, as part of the purpose of coming to Singapore is to continue to enjoy the lifestyle and region. What made this decision more difficult is that I did so after seeing a few really nice apartments at the original S$4,000 range – hey-ho.

After short listing a few – I think Newton Edge, Alexis, 8-Woodleigh and One-North Residences were the apartment condos that’s I was very interest in, I continued to search on www.propertyguru.com.sg and found one at Novena called Suites@Shrewsbury. It was pretty reasonable at the S$2,900 rental range and was located at 84 Shrewsbury Road. It was a bit cramped inside, but suitably located near the local facilities and amenities in the Novena area – walking distance from the Novena MRT, so the red North-South MRT line to Marina Bay.

So I went for this – hopefully it means my needs. It was only partial furnished, so I sense a visit to Ikea is needed once the lease agreement has been signed. I now need to sort out the deposit, paperwork and then I will have an official base in Singapore :). Saved money to spend on Guinness too – hehe…

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