Navigating the intricacies of Goods and Services Tax (GST) compliance can be a daunting task for businesses. The Assisted Self-help Kit (ASK) emerges as a beacon in this landscape, offering a comprehensive self-assessment compliance package. However, to truly harness its potential, businesses need to understand how to maximise the benefits of ASK.
In this article, we delve into practical strategies for businesses to unlock the full spectrum of advantages that ASK has to offer.
Understanding the purpose and features of ASK
Before delving into maximising ASK benefits, it is crucial to comprehend its purpose and features. ASK is designed to assist businesses in self-assessing their GST submissions and discovering past errors early, qualifying for the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore’s (IRAS) Voluntary Disclosure Programme. It consists of three key sections: GST Practices, Pre-Filing Checklist, and ASK Annual Review.
1. GST Practices
Recommended for businesses planning to register for GST or those newly registered. GST Practices focuses on internal processes covering People, Record-Keeping, Systems, Internal Controls, and Risk Management for overall GST compliance.
2. Pre-Filing Checklist
Recommended for businesses filing their first GST return or those with new business arrangements or personnel changes. The pre-filing checklist helps perform quality checks on GST returns before submission.
3. ASK Annual Review
Recommended for all GST-registered businesses. The ASK annual review provides a systematic review of past GST returns for early detection of errors, qualifying for voluntary disclosure and enjoying administrative concessions.
Now, let’s explore how businesses can maximise the benefits of ASK through practical strategies.
Strategies for Maximising ASK Benefits
1. Engage accredited tax professionals
Businesses can benefit significantly by engaging Accredited Tax Advisors (ATAs) or Accredited Tax Practitioners (ATPs) accredited by the Singapore Chartered Tax Professionals Limited (SCTP). These professionals can guide businesses through the ASK Annual Review process and ensure adherence to certification procedures.
2. Comprehensive adoption
To truly maximise ASK benefits, businesses should adopt all three sections—GST Practices, Pre-Filing Checklist, and ASK Annual Review. A holistic approach ensures a thorough examination of internal processes, pre-filing checks, and regular reviews for early error detection.
3. Regularly update processes
GST regulations may evolve, and business operations may change. To maximise ASK benefits, businesses should regularly update their internal processes to align with current GST practices. This ensures that ASK remains a relevant and effective tool for compliance.
4. Proactive use of GST practices
In the GST Practices section, businesses are guided to put in place internal processes covering various aspects. To maximise ASK benefits, businesses should proactively implement these practices, creating a robust framework that enhances overall GST compliance.
5. Thorough pre-filing checks
The Pre-Filing Checklist is a powerful tool for ensuring the accuracy of GST returns. Businesses should conduct thorough pre-filing checks, utilising the checklist to catch any discrepancies before submission. This proactive approach reduces the risk of penalties and regulatory scrutiny.
6. Regular ASK annual reviews
The ASK Annual Review is not just a one-time obligation; it’s an ongoing process. Regularly conducting annual reviews ensures continuous error detection and timely rectification. This practice not only keeps businesses in compliance but also qualifies them for IRAS’ Voluntary Disclosure Programme.
7. Explore GST Scheme Opportunities
Businesses applying for or renewing GST schemes, such as the Import GST Deferment Scheme (IGDS), Major Exporter Scheme (MES), Approved Third Party Logistics (A3PL) Company Scheme, or the Approved Marine Fuel Scheme (AMFT), must perform a self-review using ASK. To maximise benefits, explore opportunities for GST scheme applications. This not only enhances compliance but also opens doors to potential cost savings and operational efficiencies.
8. Waiver of penalties for errors uncovered
Any errors uncovered by GST ASK review will get a waiver of the penalties which would otherwise be levied on the taxpayer. This allows taxpayers to be more willing to voluntarily disclose their errors made in their GST returns.
The GST Assisted Self-help Kit (ASK) is more than a compliance tool; it’s a strategic asset for businesses navigating the complexities of GST regulations. To truly maximise ASK benefits, businesses should adopt a comprehensive approach, educating and training staff, regularly updating processes, and engaging accredited tax professionals. By proactively utilising each section—GST Practices, Pre-Filing Checklist, and ASK Annual Review—businesses can not only ensure compliance but also position themselves for sustained success in the ever-evolving landscape of GST regulations.
Max Lewis provides various expert services, including transfer pricing services and Employee Shares Option Plans in Singapore. Our firm has also been awarded the Most Trusted Goods and Services Tax Advisory Firm award by APAC Insider Singapore Business Awards 2023. Get in touch with us today for more information about our various services.
*The above represents our views and opinions and does not necessarily reflect the position of any entities mentioned.