How to Avoid Paying ABSD When Buying Residential Properties in Singapore

Incurring Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) can increase the cost of home ownership in Singapore . Here’s how you can legally avoid paying ABSD.

Priscilla Lee

by Priscilla Lee on Jan 19, 2024

the interlace condo

 

great eastern hospital cash plan

If you are looking forward to investing in a second or third property in Singapore, your cost of home ownership has just become more expensive. Since April, the Singapore government has imposed a higher Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty, also known as ABSD, to promote a more sustainable property market and curb the rising property prices.

(Bear in mind that ABSD is on top of the regular Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) that is applicable for all property transactions and it can easily bump up your total property cost by another 20% to 65%.)

Do not put down a downpayment on your next home until you read this blog. We will guide you through what Singapore’s BSD and ABSD are all about and how you can legally avoid incurring the latter.

Find the Cheapest Home Loans in Singapore

Farrer park singapore
Source: Unsplash

What is Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) in Singapore

BSD is a payable tax when you acquire any property in Singapore. It is levied on all purchases of property and comes as an extra cost for home ownership no matter if you are buying an HDB flat, private condominium or commercial property in Singapore.

BSD is computed based on the purchase price or market value of the property, whichever is the higher amount. As of 15 February 2023, the rates have been adjusted up as follows:

Property price or market valueBSD rates for residential properties before 15 February 2023BSD rates for residential properties from 15 February 2023
First S$180,0001%1%
Next $180,0002%2%
Next $640,0003%3%
Next $500,0004%
Next $1,500,0005%
Remaining amount4%6%

For example, if you intend to buy an HDB flat in Singapore for S$500,000, you must factor in the BSD as part of the extra costs and fees you need to pay. The amount of BSD payable will look like this:

Property price or market valueBSD rates for residential properties from 15 February 2023BSD payable
First S$180,0001%S$180,000 x 1% = S$1,800
Next $180,0002%S$180,000 x 2% = S$3,600
Next $640,0003%S$140,000 x 3% = S$4,200
Next $500,0004%
Next $1,500,0005%
Remaining amount6%
Total BSD payableS$9,600

Related: Home Mortgage Loan Basics: How Much Can I Borrow?

shophouse singapore
Source: Unsplash

What is Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) in Singapore

ABSD was first introduced in 2011 and revised in 2013, then in 2021. The latest round of ABSD rate revision in Singapore was made on 27 April 2023 to further cool down the soaring property market in Singapore.

Unlike BSD which is taxable on all property purchases, ABSD is levied only when:

  • Singaporeans buy second or subsequent property
  • Singapore Permanent Residents (SPRs) buy first or subsequent property
  • Foreigners buy first or subsequent property
  • Official entities, trustees and developers buy any property

The effective ABSD rates adjusted as of 27 April 2023 are as follow:

Buyers’ profileABSD rates before 27 April 2023ABSD rates from 27 April 2023
Singaporean buying first residential propertyNoneNone
Singaporean buying second residential property17%20%
Singaporean buying third and subsequent residential property25%30%
SPR buying first residential property5%5%
SPR buying second residential property25%30%
SPR buying third and subsequent property30%35%
Foreigner buying residential property30%60%
Entity or trustee buying residential property35%65%
Housing Developer buying residential property35% plus another 5% (non-remittable)35% plus another 5% (non-remittable)
Source: IRAS

Related: Real Estate Investment: How to Build a Solid Property Portfolio

How to Calculate ABSD

If you are a Singaporean buying a second property in Singapore at S$1 million, you will be liable to pay 20% ABSD instead of the previous rate of 17%. The amount payable is therefore:

S$1 million X 20% = $200,000

Note that ABSD is calculated based on the valuation price or selling price, whichever is higher. As such, even if the property is valued at S$1 million but the seller decides to increase the selling price by S$300,000 more, you are liable to tabulate the final ABSD based on the higher price:

S$1.3 million X 20% = $260,000

Related: How to Handle Mortgage Stress

condo
Source: Unsplash

Ways to Legally Avoid Paying ABSD in Singapore

ABSD levied on any Singapore property can easily run into the hundreds of thousands and this can make an otherwise smart property investment an expensive affair. Depending on your objective for buying a new property, there are some legal strategies that may help you to get around it.

Decoupling

Decoupling refers to the process of transferring ownership of a property from one party to another, typically between spouses or family members, without selling the property. For example, if you and your spouse own a private property together but wish to invest in another without having to incur ABSD, you can consider transferring the ownership of the existing property to your spouse, then buy a second one with you as the sole owner.

However, do note that you and your spouse must be able to finance the property under your ownership independently. This method is also not for couples who own an HDB flat.

Related: Banks vs Mortgage Brokers: Which One Should I Use to Refinance My Home Loan in Singapore?

Sell Existing Property Before Buying the Next

This is the most practical strategy because you will only hold one title deed in Singapore at any one time and will never be slapped with ABSD. This method also allows you to free up your funds and grant you more time to shop around for your next home.

The only fly in the ointment is the possibility of having to incur additional costs for taking out a short-term lease while searching for a suitable purchase. However, if you have friends or family with a spare room to help you tide over the period, this could be the ideal strategy.

Related: Simple Ways To Increase The Value Of Your Home Before Selling It

HDB Singapore
Source: Unsplash

Apply for ABSD Remission

In some scenarios, IRAS does grant ABSD remission if you meet eligibility conditions. For starters, full remission may be applicable to married couples who purchase their first residential property jointly. The couple must include a Singaporean and both spouses must not own any residential property.

For couples who purchase their second property but dispose of the first within six months from the date of purchase of the second property may also be allowed to claim ABSD remission. This also applies to couples with a spouse who owns a property separately before buying another jointly as a couple.

Conclusion

With rising property prices, doing precise calculation of the BSD and ABSD you are liable to pay is the best bet to ensure you can afford the new home without over-stretching your budget.

Be sure to scout the market for the Best Home Mortgage Loans in Singapore, as the right mortgage loan package not only helps you make monthly mortgage repayment with ease, but can also lower your overall home ownership cost in the long run.

valuechampion newsletter sign up

Read More:

Cover image source: Unsplash

This content is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. Nothing contained on our Site constitutes a solicitation, recommendation or endorsement by AMTD PolicyPal Group in this or in any other jurisdiction in which such solicitation or offer would be unlawful under the securities laws of such jurisdiction.

This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Under AMTD Digital, AMTD PolicyPal Group consists of PolicyPal Pte. Ltd., Baoxianbaobao Pte. Ltd., PolicyPal Tech Pte. Ltd., and ValueChampion.