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Singapore Holding Company Considerations

5 minute read

What is a holding company? 

A holding company is a legal entity that owns shares in another company, also known as subsidiary, or an entity that exercises ownership or control over real estate, patents or other assets.

Why are holding companies popular? 

Holding companies are convenient legal vehicles to own shares, control other companies and most importantly to reduce associated risks for shareholders.

To explain why many business owners choose to set up a holding company in Singapore we have partnered with C Advisory – a boutique advisory firm dedicated to providing practical international corporate tax solutions to start-ups and SMEs in their growth journey in Singapore and South East Asia.


Why choose Singapore as the location for your holding company?

Singapore is unmistakably in the premier league when it comes to attractive destinations for holding companies.

Below are some of the key reasons as to why many business owners select the ‘Little Red Dot’ to register their Holding Companies.

1) Favourable domestic tax regime

When compared to other tax jurisdictions, incorporated companies in Singapore are able to benefit from a host of attractive tax savings on operational income and capital gains, while shareholders do not need to suffer additional taxes on dividends.

  • Singapore operates on a territorial-based regime. This means that profits are only taxed on locally sourced income and foreign income that is remitted back to Singapore.
  • Singapore’s Government offers generous tax incentives for specific industries and SMEs
  • Companies can benefit from 0% tax on Capital Gains and Dividends Withholding
  • Singapore has a low corporate tax rate capped at 17%

Find out more about Common Tax Reliefs for Singapore companies here.

2) Extensive tax treaty network for cross-border transactions

In a world characterised by increasing cross-border transactions, Singapore’s 80+ tax treaties provide a favourable avenue for effective international tax optimisation.

  • Reduced withholding taxes on dividends, interest and royalty income across countries
  • Relief from double taxation across different tax jurisdictions
  • Clarity and transparency on tax treatment in different treaty countries

A full list of Singapore’s Tax Agreements can be found here.

3) A strategic location that is highly preferred by investors, VCs and entrepreneurs 

Singapore’s government has made many conscious efforts over the past few years to reduce as many barriers for foreign investors and companies looking to expand into Asia.

  • 0% withholding taxes on dividends and capital gains
  • Tax exemption on foreign dividends, branch profits and technical services
  • No capital control
  • Stable government with highly digitised, efficient and transparent regulatory system – you will receive tax refunds in a reasonable time!

Want more information on Singapore’s tax benefits? We have a few guides for you below:

  • Tax Exempt Dividends: A Singapore tax resident company can enjoy tax exemption on its specified foreign income that is remitted into Singapore.
  • Group Relief: Group Relief enables companies to deduct unutilised capital allowances/ trade losses/ donations of one company from the assessable income of another company in the same group.
  • Incentives and schemes: The Singapore government provides a range of grants, subsidies and funding to help stimulate innovation and support business.

How can you determine if a holding company is controlling entity?

An investor or holding company, regardless of the nature of its involvement with an other entity (investee or subsidiary), shall determine whether it is a parent by assessing whether it controls the investee (subsidiary). An investor controls an investee (subsidiary) if and only if the investor has all the following:

  • Power over the investee
  • Exposure, or rights, to variable returns from its involvement with the investee and;
  • Ability to use its power over the investee to affect the amount of the investor’s return

What are accounting and tax requirements for holding companies?

Section 201(3A) of the Singapore Company Act requires the directors of a holding company to present two reports at the end of the financial year at its Annual General Meeting.

  • A Consolidated Accounts of the company and its subsidiaries
  • A Balance Sheet dealing with the state of affairs of the holding company

All financial statements must comply with the prescribed Accounting Standards (IFRS 10) and give a true and fair view of the financial status of the company.

How can Sleek help you to keep your company compliant?

Our accounting team helps many of our holding company clients to prepare:

Consolidated Group Accounts for the Holding Company and its Subsidiaries

The purpose of this report is to show the consolidated assets and liabilities of both the holding company and its subsidiaries and hence the financial position of the entire group.

Group Unaudited Financial Statements (for submission to ACRA)

The Financial Statements convey the business activities and financial performance of the holding company. They will include the company balance sheet, income and cashflow statements.

What factors impact the cost to prepare holding company tax filings?

The cost to prepare group accounting reports will vary based on:

  • The number of subsidiaries that a holding company has
  • The level of complexity of the subsidiaries accounting activities.

Need help on getting your accounts in order? Our expert team is ready to help you with your accounting and tax.

Wrap up

If you need help with incorporating your holding company in Singapore,  or effortlessly managing your accounting and tax requirements, contact us to learn more.

We are more than happy to help!

It is important to note, however, that setting up a bank account for a holding company in Singapore may be subject to enhanced compliance and diligence checks by the banks in Singapore due to the high money laundering risks surrounding holding companies.


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