Credit Cards KrisFlyer

Updated: Earn miles paying your 2019 income tax bill in Singapore

Paying your annual income tax in Singapore is a great opportunity to 'buy' a sizeable chunk of KrisFlyer or other frequent flyer miles at a competitive cost

Taxes Calculator

Edit 29th April 2019: When we first wrote this article we did not include the ipaymy income tax payment option, as the company has not been accepting new personal account sign-ups for a while (business accounts only). We have been informed that new personal accounts can once again be opened, and so we have updated this analysis to include the ipaymy options.

It’s that time of year again. I logged on to my IRAS tax portal this morning to see that my estimated income tax has already been calculated, meaning the day we all dread each year is just around the corner with the 2019 ‘Notice of Assessment’ (for your 2018 income tax liability) coming soon, in my case next week.

No one looks forward to paying their tax bill, but there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. It’s possible to pay your income tax with a wide range of credit cards in Singapore, in turn earning a sizeable chunk of KrisFlyer miles (or other frequent flyer points if your credit card allows that) for the transaction.

IRAS.png

Note: Don’t worry if you haven’t received your bill yet and/or don’t have a ‘Notice of Assessment’ date showing at the online portal. IRAS sends out NOAs between now and September 2019, so your tax liability may be in a later ‘batch’.

The catch

This is not a service IRAS offers directly. The transaction must usually be arranged through your credit card issuer, and they will charge you a fee for the service, which means the miles are not going to be free.

Your options

The options available to you depend on the credit card(s) you hold. Remember your income tax bill is payable within a month of your ‘Notice of Assessment’ (NOA) date, unless your NOA states otherwise, so there may still be time to apply for and receive a new credit card with a superior miles earning rate if you wish.

CITItrans.png DBStrans.png HSBCtrans.png
OCBCtrans.png SCtrans.png

This year there are five different banks offering a direct income tax payment scheme for at least one of their miles earning credit cards (one more than last year, thanks to Citi PayAll).

Note that BOC also allows income tax payment through some of its credit cards for a 1% fee, but does not award any points for the transaction making it of little interest to our readers and not worth mentioning in this article.

Additionally there are two more methods – the CardUp and ipaymy options for circumstances where your card provider’s rate is unattractive (hello DBS!), or your credit card provider does not offer a tax payment service (e.g. UOB).

CardUp Trans ipaymy.png

CardUp charges a 2.6% admin fee on credit card payments, while ipaymy charges between 1.99% and 3.0% admin fee depending on the card type and transaction type.

Remember that both of these providers will pay IRAS directly, whereas most credit card issuers will transfer your owed income tax balance to your bank account and charge your card account with the same amount, plus the administrative fee, leaving you to arrange payment to IRAS yourself.

We first wrote about CardUp in 2017. If you haven’t used the service before (it can also be used to pay a number of other bills like rent, property tax and school fees), you can enjoy up to S$20 off the transaction fee on your first payment by using our promo code MAINLYMILES.

Sign Up HERE

ipaymy offering 1.99% fee

Now that ipaymy is allowing personal account sign-ups again, there’s even more good news for those of you wishing to use this facility to pay your income tax.

ipaymy have an ongoing promotion for tax payments to IRAS using a Singapore issued Visa or Mastercard. Simply enter promo code TAX2019 at the checkout. This is a one time use promo code so to maximise the value, you should pay your annual tax as a single lump sum where possible.

While we don’t have currently have a referral for ipaymy, do note that their fees can be cheaper for a number of transaction types (not just income tax).

Visit ipaymy

What do we personally do?

As with last year, our option is a no-brainer. We both have the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite card (SCVI) card, and it has by far the best deal we know of with an income tax payment processing fee of 1.6%, earning 1.4 KrisFlyer miles per S$1 spent, assuming you have at least S$2,000 of other spend on the card in the same statement month, which is a condition of the higher earning rate.

For example, if you have a S$10,000 tax bill the fee would be S$160, with 14,000 miles awarded. That means paying 1.14 cents per KrisFlyer mile, which is a great deal as we value them at 2 cents each if used sensibly.

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Better still, like with many banks Standard Chartered don’t pay IRAS directly, but instead they will credit the tax payment to your bank account in order for you to pay IRAS yourself. They simply charge the amount (plus the service fee) to your credit card.

That means you can pay your income tax by interest-free GIRO each month if you wish, and use the money Standard Chartered pay you simply to settle your credit card bill.

The credit card options

Not everyone has the SCVI card of course, and it does have a high annual fee so we wouldn’t necessarily recommend getting one purely to pay your income tax. What other Singapore credit cards also offer a miles earning option for these payments?

Here’s our 2019 table showing the best to worst rates you can achieve for the Singapore credit cards allowing income tax payment.

The formula is simply the fee divided by the number of miles you will receive, to generate a cost per mile. Bear in mind that for both CardUp and ipaymy you will also earn miles on the fee itself, which is accounted for in the calculation.

We have only included the ipaymy / CardUp method where they are the only way to pay income tax with the respective card, or they are cheaper than the card issuer’s own scheme.

Edit: ipaymy options added 29th April, now that the provider is accepting personal account sign-ups again.

2019 Income tax payment
Card Method Fee Miles per
S$1
Cost per mile
image_standard-chartered-visa-infinite@2x02.pngSCVI Hi* Direct.png 1.60% 1.4 1.14¢
Citi Ultima Trans.png
Citi ULTIMA
ipaymy.png 1.99% 1.6 1.22¢
Citi Ultima Trans.png
Citi ULTIMA
PayAll Logo 2.00% 1.6 1.25¢
Card.png
BOC EM
ipaymy.png 1.99% 1.5 1.30¢
Card Trans.png
UOB PRVI Miles
ipaymy.png 1.99% 1.4 1.39¢
HSBCviNEW.pngHSBC VI Direct.png 1.50% 1.0 1.50¢
Card2019
Citi Prestige
ipaymy.png 1.99% 1.3 1.50¢
Card2019
Citi Prestige
PayAll Logo 2.00% 1.3 1.53¢
Card.png
Citi PM Amex
PayAll Logo 2.00% 1.3 1.53¢
image_standard-chartered-visa-infinite@2x02.pngSCVI Lo* Direct.png 1.60% 1.0 1.60¢
Card2019.png
Citi PM Visa
ipaymy.png 1.99% 1.2 1.63¢
Card 2
KrisFlyer UOB
ipaymy.png 1.99% 1.2 1.63¢
Altitude Card.jpgDBS Altitude ipaymy.png 1.99% 1.2 1.63¢
Card2019.png
Citi PM Visa
PayAll Logo 2.00% 1.2 1.67¢
Card.png
BOC EM
CardUp Trans 2.60% 1.5 1.69¢
HSBC Revo Card.pngHSBC Revo Direct.png 0.70% 0.4 1.75¢
Card Trans.png
UOB PRVI Miles
CardUp Trans 2.60% 1.4 1.81¢
Card.jpg
OCBC Voyage
Direct.png 1.90% 1.0 1.90¢
Card 2
KrisFlyer UOB
CardUp Trans 2.60% 1.2 2.11¢
AscendCC.png
KF Ascend
CardUp Trans 2.60% 1.2 2.11¢
Altitude Card.jpgDBS Altitude CardUp Trans 2.60% 1.2 2.11¢
AMEXKFbluelarge
KF Blue
CardUp Trans 2.60% 1.1 2.30¢
Altitude Card.jpgDBS Altitude Direct.png 3.00% 1.2 2.50¢
AscendCC.png
KF Ascend
ipaymy.png 3.30% 1.2 2.66¢
AMEXKFbluelarge
KF Blue
ipaymy.png 3.30% 1.1 2.90¢

* Important – SCVI Hi / SCVI Lo: The SCVI tax payment facility offers 1.4 miles per S$1 (Hi rate) only if you have spent over S$2,000 on other transactions in the same statement period. Income tax payment doesn’t count towards the minimum – not specifically stated in the T&Cs but confirmed by Standard Chartered on the phone again this year (same answer we got last year). The CSO I spoke with could be wrong (for the second year running), but it’s much safer to clear the spend requirement on other transactions in the same statement period if you’re counting on the 1.4 mpd rate. Otherwise 1 mile per S$1 applies (Lo rate).

Note that the Singapore Airlines co-brand KrisFlyer (Blue and Ascend) cards are not great options to use for income tax payments. The same applies for the DBS Altitude, with the exception of the ipaymy method using the 1.99% promo fee, which is cheaper than doing it through DBS.

Our personal upper limit to buy KrisFlyer miles is 2 cents each to ensure a good return (and even then, we’d need a very good reason to actually buy at 2 cpm). You might personally have a lower valuation for the miles than us.

Do bear in mind that some of these options involve buying at more than 2 cpm, which we would not recommend unless you are sure you’ll get better value from them than that.

Seat 11A
Your income tax payment can go a long way towards sitting back in a Business Class seat like this, but do be aware it’s possible to ‘buy’ miles at an unattractive rate in some cases. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The chosen few: Citi PayAll’s 1.5% fee

As you may recall from our article in February when Citi formally rolled out PayAll to its credit card customers in Singapore, several users (Eddie included) were able to use the facility with a lower fee of 1.5% instead of 2.0%.

That’s still the case and this 25% discount on the usual fee completely enhances the proposition when using these cards with PayAll to settle your income tax.

PayAll Logo

If you are one of the lucky ones able to benefit from the 1.5% fee (just set up a dummy PayAll payment through the app to determine the fee you are being charged), then the following rates apply for using your Citi credit cards for an IRAS income tax payment.

Note: For Citi PayAll IRAS tax payments you’ll currently need to be using the Android app, with the iOS app not yet updated to reflect the option. This should be fixed for iOS users next week.

2019 Income tax payment
(Citi PayAll 1.5% fee customers)
Card Method Fee Miles per
S$1
Cost per mile
Citi Ultima Trans.png
Citi ULTIMA
PayAll Logo 1.5% 1.6 0.94¢
Card2019
Citi Prestige
PayAll Logo 1.5% 1.3 1.15¢
Card.png
Citi PM Amex
PayAll Logo 1.5% 1.3 1.15¢
Card2019.png
Citi PM Visa
PayAll Logo 1.5% 1.2 1.25¢

All of the Citi PayAll options are giving you an excellent cost per mile here, in our opinion, however the ‘SCVI Hi’ rate is still better than the Citi PremierMiles Visa option.

Do bear in mind however that Citi Miles / ThankYou Points are extremely flexible, transferring into 12 different frequent flyer programs, including Avios, Asia Miles, Qantas and Turkish. With the SCVI card you’re restricted to KrisFlyer transfers.

We’ve left out several cards

If you can’t find your credit card in the above tables, that’s because the issuing bank does not support an income tax payment facility using that card. For example, OCBC’s Voyage Payment Facility is only for the Voyage Visa Infinite card, they have no alternative for the Titanium Rewards cards.

Not only that, but using CardUp or ipaymy simply wouldn’t be good value at all using these excluded cards. For example the MayBank Horizon Visa only earns 0.4 miles per dollar in this category, as does the DBS WWMC. With a CardUp fee of 2.6% that’s an utterly ridiculous cost per mile of 6.50 cents each!

Even the Citi Rewards card under Citi PayAll with a 1.5% fee makes no sense at a cost of 3.75 cents per mile, so again we haven’t included such options.

PRVI Pay / OCBC Voyage Payment Facility

There are a couple of methods out there to ‘generate’ miles for any payment you like, even if you have no payment to make at all. You’ll probably recall our recent article about PRVI Pay and the introduction on Friday this week of OCBC’s Voyage Payment Facility.

There would be nothing to stop you requesting a payment from those schemes to cover your income tax bill if you wanted to, but we haven’t listed those options above as they are both more expensive than the alternatives.

  • For UOB PRVI Miles: ipaymy is cheaper at 1.39 cpm. CardUp is cheaper at 1.81 cpm (PRVI Pay: 2.10 cpm)
  • For OCBC Voyage: The Voyage Payment option for income tax payments is cheaper at 1.90 cpm (‘Other payments’ option: 1.95 cpm).

The only exception for OCBC Voyage cardholders is if your income tax bill is greater than $150,100, which by our reckoning means you earned over $800,000 last year, in which case the ‘other payments’ rate is the same as the income tax payments rate (but no better!).

The process

Direct with your credit card Provider

For credit card payments there are a variety of methods depending on the card issuer (for Standard Chartered it’s online – for some others there’s a manual form).

In all cases to the best of our knowledge you must upload or submit your ‘Notice of Assessment’ and provide your bank account details. If the application is accepted the card issuer will transfer the amount owed to your personal bank account and you will then be responsible for settling your income tax directly with IRAS.

Your card will be charged for the amount transferred to your bank account plus the processing fee, so be prepared to pay this about a month later.

Through CardUp / ipaymy

For CardUp or ipaymy you’ll be able to make a one-off payment in accordance with your Notice of Assessment (having entered your IRAS reference) and this will be directly transferred to IRAS on your behalf.

Your card will be charged for the total transaction, plus the applicable fee, though as mentioned above you’ll earn miles on both.

Through Citi PayAll

In common with the CardUp / ipaymy methods, Citi will pay IRAS directly and charge your credit card with the same amount plus the administrative fee of 1.5% or 2.0%.

Paying income tax by GIRO

What many people (myself included) prefer to do rather than pay off their annual income tax bill in one lump sum is to let IRAS calculate a monthly GIRO payment plan, which is interest free. You then pay your tax off for the previous year in much smaller monthly sums.

This is still possible if you pay your income tax by credit card, but only with the cards allowing you to do so directly. That’s because CardUp, ipaymy and PayAll settle directly with IRAS as explained above, while the card issuers just give you the money and trust you to pay IRAS yourself.

Once the credit card company has paid your income tax total into your bank account, you are still responsible for then settling the income tax with IRAS. The credit card company will not check if you have done this, nor are they obliged to.

There is therefore no problem arranging with IRAS to pay your income tax by GIRO and simply use the money the credit card company transferred to you to settle your credit card statement the next month (when the income tax charge will be due).

Your tax payments will then be spread through the year as usual but you’ll still have a chunk of miles from the original transaction.

Can you ‘churn’ several tax payments?

If you have more than one of the cards listed in the tables above and find the cost per mile rates attractive, there’s actually nothing stopping you from requesting an income tax payment from two different banks or providers.

For example if you have the SCVI card they will pay your NOA total amount to your bank account and charge your card account itself with the same amount plus the admin fee. They aren’t paying IRAS on your behalf. You might have paid IRAS already for all they know, or have a GIRO payment plan set up.

You could then simply use the money they pay you to settle your credit card statement, then apply for an income tax payment with another provider such as Citi PayAll, ipaymy or CardUp, though each of those cases they will pay IRAS directly for you.

That could be quite a nice way to generate some extra miles at a competitive rate.

Summary

Your income tax payment can be one of the biggest single boosts to your miles balance through the year, so we advise you to consider the options carefully before making your payment.

As always, the cost per mile (which we have calculated above for most cards and methods) is key to deciding whether this is a good deal for you or not.

The recent addition of income tax payments through Citi PayAll has shifted the equation this year significantly and introduced some great new options for many of our readers.

27 comments

  1. Hi Andrew, thanks for the really helpful article. I have one query with something you mentioned regarding the SCB VI, namely “earning 1.4 KrisFlyer miles per S$1 spent, assuming you have at least S$2,000 of other spend on the card in the same statement month, which is a condition of the higher earning rate.” I was looking at the T&Cs of the card, and it doesn’t mention that you need at least S$2,000 of other spend on the card. In fact, all it says is that “Cardholders who meet the Minimum Spend Amount (ie S$2,000 in a statement cycle) will be eligible to earn additional miles in the form of 360° Rewards Points”. This seems to suggest as long as you spend more than S$2,000, you will enjoy the higher earn rate. I would be grateful for your clarification. Thanks, much!

  2. I was told by Citi that they can only pay directly to iras and that means that i will have to cancel my giro monthly payments with iras. I’m not sure if iras allows such a monthly arrangement or not.

    1. Yes I believe for the providers that settle directly with IRAS it will simply ‘wipe’ your outstanding tax liability and the option to pay monthly is gone.

      Otherwise IRAS would have to refund you all but the first months payment, then start taking monthly payments by GIRO from your account.

      From their point of view that defeats the purpose of the 100% upfront payment.

  3. Hi Andrew, thanks for the very helpful article. For SCB VI, you mentioned that the 1.4mpd rate applies “assuming you have at least S$2,000 of other spend on the card in the same statement month”. However, from my review of the SCB T&Cs, it seems to suggest that you earn the 1.4mpd rate so long as your net spend for the statement period exceeds S$2,000. Could you please help shed some light? Thanks.

  4. Hi Andrew, thanks for the great write up. Quick question regarding the 1.4mpd earn rate on the SCB VI. You said “assuming you have at least S$2,000 of other spend on the card in the same statement month, which is a condition of the higher earning rate”. However, I’ve read the T&Cs on the SCB website, and it doesn’t make reference to the fact that you need to have S$2,000 on the card prior to charging your tax bill to it in order to earn the higher rate. In fact, it seems that as long as you’ve charged more than S$2,000 to the card during the statement period, you’ll earn at the 1.4mpd rate. Is my understanding correct, or am I missing something here? Thanks!

    1. This is where the confusion lies. The T&Cs don’t mention it, but if you ask the CSOs they always say the income tax payment doesn’t count towards the 2k spend in that statement cycle to generate the 1.4 mpd rate!

      So your understanding is right, but it remains a grey area. If you possibly can put 2k of other spend on the card in the same statement cycle, that’s what I would suggest.

      1. Thanks, Andrew. I can see how this might be a problem given the confusion. You’re right, putting S$2,000 on the card ensures you secure the 1.4mpd rate in any event. Is there a definition for “statement cycle”, or is that unique to each person?

      2. I believe everyone’s statement cycle is 17th of the month to 16th of the next month with SCVI but don’t quote me.

    1. Yes it does but we didn’t include them as they have recently only been accepting new business accounts (not personal ones).

      It seems personal accounts can now be setup again, so we’ll update this!

    1. I believe almost no cards issue points / miles for AXS transactions, including Citi. If anyone knows differently please say and I’ll look into it.

  5. Andrew, Thanks for the writeup. For SCB VI, must you have an account with SCB? Also, I heard that one can set monthly payments for IRAS with Citi Payall, can confirm?

    1. Hi Lenny, no you don’t need to have an account with SCB to get the SCVI card. I’m not sure about the answer to your PayAll question sorry – one to ask Citi?

      1. Alright, one update is that Payall is now live on Iphone yet. Citi Marketing team is working on it and should be live by 15 May.

      2. Thanks Lenny for the update. I was told it would be last week, but that’s obviously slipped!

        In the meantime if you have an Android device you can log in on that and use PayAll for Income Tax payments.

      3. PSA: Citi PayAll for iOS now includes the Tax Payment option. Make sure you have the latest version of the app downloaded.

  6. When using Citi PayAll, can I still pay monthly amounts for income tax or do I need to pay the whole outstanding amount? I am currently using Giro plan to pay monthly payments for income tax.

    1. Just income tax I think but you could perhaps do the property tax at 1.99% fee through out latest ipaymy promo code using your SCVI?

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