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In brief

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) updated its guidelines on general anti-avoidance on 31 March 2023, with the release of the IRAS e-Tax Guide: “Income Tax: The General Anti-Avoidance Provision and its Application (Second Edition)” (“Revised Anti-Avoidance ETG”).

The Revised Anti-Avoidance ETG sets out additional examples of arrangements that IRAS considers to fall under the general anti-avoidance provision set out in Section 33 of the Income Tax Act 1947 (ITA). It is helpful in providing taxpayers with greater clarity on IRAS’ approach to Section 33.

More importantly, the Revised Anti-Avoidance ETG also elaborates how the surcharge under Section 33A of the ITA will be imposed and when a remission on a surcharge may be granted. This is important for taxpayers to note as the Section 33A surcharge is computed based on 50% of the tax or additional tax arising from the adjustment under Section 33. Further, the surcharge generally must be paid within one month after the date of the written notice of the Section 33A surcharge, notwithstanding any objection to the underlying Section 33 adjustment.

In addition, taxpayers should note that while the surcharge is only imposed on any tax or additional tax arising from a Section 33 adjustment made for year of assessment (YA) 2023 or a subsequent YA, the surcharge is applicable to tax avoidance arrangements entered into before the basis period of YA 2023.

In this alert, we discuss the salient aspects of the Revised Anti-Avoidance ETG and consider its impact on taxpayers.

Key Takeaways

  • New categories of tax avoidance explicitly identified by IRAS help clarify IRAS’ position on certain transactions as falling afoul of the Section 33 anti-avoidance provision.
  • Taxpayers should take note of the surcharge provision under Section 33A, which is computed at 50% of the tax or additional tax arising from the adjustment under Section 33.
  • In particular, the surcharge generally must be paid within one month after the date of the written notice of the Section 33A surcharge, notwithstanding any objection to the underlying Section 33 adjustment.
  • Further, the surcharge can apply to arrangements prior to YA 2023, although the surcharge will only be imposed in respect of adjustments made from YA 2023.
  • Taxpayers should thoroughly review their tax planning and transactions to ensure that there are bona fide commercial reasons for the transactions and that these do not have the main objective of reducing or avoiding tax to avoid falling afoul of the anti-avoidance rules and triggering the surcharge under Section 33A of the ITA.
  • While a remission may be available, this is subject to conditions, and the surcharge will have to be paid upfront unless the comptroller agrees otherwise.

Read the full alert here.


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Allen Tan is the head of the Tax, Trade and Wealth Management practice in Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow. He has extensive experience working on both international and local tax issues, with a special focus on the regional tax aspects of the transactions that he is involved in. Allen’s clients include Global Fortune 500 multinational corporations and major Singapore conglomerates. He is recognised as a leading lawyer for his tax controversy and corporate tax work in many leading legal and tax directories including International Tax Review, Chambers Asia Pacific and Legal 500 Asia Pacific. Allen was also named the Asia Tax Practice Leader of the Year 2018 by International Tax Review.


Dawn Quek is a leading tax and private client lawyer in Singapore with many years of experience in corporate tax and international tax planning. She is the Head of the Wealth Management practice in Singapore and is the Asia Pacific representative on the Firm's Global Wealth Management Steering Committee. Dawn is consistently ranked as a leading tax and private client/wealth lawyer by various legal publications including Chambers High Net Worth (HNW) Guide, International Tax Review Women in Tax Leaders Guide and the Legal 500 Asia Pacific. She was named "Private Client Lawyer of the Year" at the 2018 Asia Legal Awards by The Asian Lawyer, and named "Women in Wealth Management" at the 2018 and 2020 WealthBriefingAsia Awards. Dawn is a key player in the local wealth management and financial services scene. She frequently participates in formal and informal consultations with government authorities on law reform on issues relating to the wealth management and financial services industry from a tax and legal perspective. She has also co-written articles on international tax planning issues in various tax and legal journals published by CCH and BNA. In addition, Dawn has been quoted extensively in publications such as the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, Reuters, the Financial Times, the Straits Times, the Business Times and Asian Private Banker on issues and developments affecting the wealth management industry in Singapore.


Shih Hui Lee has advised on both regional and Singapore tax issues, with focus on advising MNCs on international tax aspects of cross-border transactions. Her practice includes advising clients on tax issues arising from mergers and acquisitions, indirect taxes, transfer taxes, foreign direct investment and cross-border tax planning issues. Prior to joining Baker McKenzie, Shih Hui worked in one of the Big Four accounting firms in Singapore. She has experienced being an in-house regional tax advisor in one of the multinational cable and satellite television channel.


Jaclyn has over 10 years of experience and specialises in solving the tax needs of multinational corporations and Singapore-headquartered companies across various industries globally and regionally.
She is adept at complex tax transformations to help clients unlock and maximise long term value, and achieve sustainable and tangible benefits, in tandem with business current and target operating models.
Jaclyn has extensive and deep experience in unlocking corporate synergies across the spectrum of tax-related services that Baker & McKenzie offers. Whether it is an international tax issue, restructuring strategies and implementation, intellectual property planning, M&A, or tax incentive negotiations with the relevant authorities, Jaclyn is a trusted advisor to her clients with her practical, sophisticated, innovative, and tailored solutions.
Jaclyn focuses on international taxation, cross-border taxation, group and business restructuring, transfer taxes and mergers and acquisitions.


Jeremiah Soh is a Senior Associate in Baker McKenzie, Singapore office.


Clinston Chiok is an Associate in Baker McKenzie, Singapore office.

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