DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam managed to don both his Santa and Robin Hood hats yesterday (23Feb).
And his Budget 2015 announcement was like an adult giving out candy on Halloween – you’ll get several tasty treats, but will have to perform some tricks back in return, of course.
Still, in the words of Candy Crush, “Tasty”. Here’s how the latest freebies will affect you:
(1) Free Money: GST Rebates
A top-up of $S50 from previous years. That means those who stay in homes of annual value up to S$13,000 will receive S$300 in GST vouchers.
Those whose homes’ annual value are between S$13,001 and S$21,000 will receive S$150.
Seniors aged 55 and above will receive a Seniors’ Bonus of up to S$600.
That’s double the amount they usually receive!
Those above the age of 65 and living in HDB flats will get an additional S$300, making it a total of S$900 for uncle and aunty.
Yeah, it’s to cope with inflation and can’t buy us peanuts. But it’s free money, so why not be happy right?
(2) Free Lunch: SkillsFuture Credits
Every Singaporean aged 25 and above will receive S$500 of SkillsFuture Credit, which will be topped up at regular intervals and not expire. This credit can be used on a range of government-supported courses.
For Singaporeans aged 40 and above, a minimum of 90 per cent of training costs for Government approved courses will be subsidised
This means that all those courses you go for with the nice attas buffet lunch and tea sessions will now be almost be fully paid for by the government!
Oh, and buffet lunches aside, pick something that you can at least learn a new skill, please. That’s the whole point.
(3) Free Top-ups: Higher CPF Rates
A S$1000 increase in the CPF ceiling from the current cap of S$5000, to S$6000.
That means your employers will have to put more into your CPF account if you’re hitting the current cap, and of course it also means you have to put more into your CPF for retirement lah.
CPF contribution rates will be restored for workers aged above 50 to 55 to the same level as those for younger workers.
And, contribution rates for these workers will go up by 2 percent – 1 per cent from the employer, and 1 per cent from the employee.
The government will also pay an additional 1 per cent extra interest on the first S$30,000 of CPF balances from the age of 55.
We’re seeing a lot of benefits for older Singaporeans, and there’s still more…
(4) Uncle-Aunty Fund: Silver Support Scheme
Every 3 months, S$300 to S$750 will be paid to seniors who are eligible for the Silver Support Scheme. They’ll receive these supplements for life.
The aim of the scheme is to support the bottom 20 per cent of Singaporeans aged 65 and above.
Eligibility will be determined by how much they’ve earned across their lives, household support, and what type of houses these seniors live in.
Does that mean cleaner uncle will soon be driving a Porsche? No. But at least he can afford a beer and one more packet of cigarettes.
(5) Middle Class Crush? More Candy For You Now
If you’re the maid-hiring type, families with children and elderly parents, the concessionary foreign domestic levy will be halved from S$120 to S$60 a month from May this year.
The normal monthly levy to employ a foreign domestic worker is S$265.
The levy will also be extended to households with children aged below 16 — up from below 12.
Also, middle-income taxpayers will receive a 50 percent tax rebate, capped at S$1,000. This, as the rich get a 2 percent increase in taxes. Robbing the rich to give to the poor? No lah, middle class also.
If you’re the driving type, there’s a 2o% road tax rebate coming your way. But remember, there’s also a 2% increase in petrol duties. So a penny for now, and a pound back in the long run? Take the penny first.
(6) More Help for Companies to become the next McMuthu’s
If you’re a small company looking to expand, you’re about to get a boost. The Government will first raise the support level for SMEs for all activities under IE Singapore’s grant schemes from 50 per cent to 70 per cent for three years.
It’ll also enhance the Double Tax Deduction for Internationalisation scheme to cover salaries incurred for Singaporeans posted overseas.
This will provide greater support to companies venturing overseas, by co-sharing their risks and costs.
So if you want to swim with the sharks and got a business that you think can cut it, why not give it a shot?