Doing More to Encourage Corporate Giving through Tax Incentive for Volunteerism, Space and Other Assets
Parliamentary Question, 6 August 2019
Ms Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (a) what is the reason for the low take-up rate of the Business and Institution of a Public Character Partnership Scheme whereby employees of businesses can undertake volunteering hours; (b) what will be done to address the issues; and © whether the Ministry will review the scheme to include assets, such as the space used by charities and for charitable purposes, and other forms of corporate-giving to further encourage tripartite partnerships.
Ms Grace Fu Hai Yien: We share Ms Ong’s desire to see more companies take up the Business and Institution of a Public Character Partnership Scheme — or BIPS — which was introduced by the Government to encourage more employee volunteerism. BIPS offer businesses a 250% tax deduction on basic wages and related expenses incurred when their employees volunteer or provide services to Institutions of Public Character (IPC).
To better understand their feedback, we organised a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) together with MOF and the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) last year with businesses and IPCs on BIPS. We found two main areas for improvement: firstly, awareness among both businesses and IPCs about BIPS; and secondly, the administrative ease of the scheme.
We will do more to raise awareness of BIPS. NVPC will actively promote the scheme to businesses, such as through their corporate giving guide and Company of Good Fellowship programme. We will also share about BIPS with the IPCs through the Commissioner of Charities’ platforms and outreach events.
We are working to refine the administrative processes for tax claims, both for businesses and IPCs. Today, businesses claim tax deduction based on the pro-rated wages of individual employees who had volunteered. We will provide an alternative for businesses who prefer to claim based on fixed man-hour rates. We expect this to take effect from the Year of Assessment 2020.
Regarding Ms Anthea Ong’s suggestion for BIPS to include assets, the scheme currently allows businesses to claim tax deductions for other qualifying expenditures, such as rental of spaces, if they are incurred as part of the volunteering activity. We can do much more to grow employee volunteerism, and will focus on improving the existing scheme and making its administrative processes more seamless and convenient for both businesses and IPCs. We thank Ms Ong for her suggestion for BIPS to include assets, and will also take it into consideration as we review our strategies to encourage corporate giving.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Anthea Ong is a Nominated Member of Parliament. (A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed by the President. They are not affiliated to any political party and do not represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament.)
The multi-sector perspective that comes from her ground immersion of 12 years in different capacities helps her translate single-sector issues and ideas across boundaries without alienating any particular community/group. As an entrepreneur and with many years in business leadership, it is innate in her to discuss social issues with the intent of finding solutions, or at least of exploring possibilities. She champions mental health, diversity and inclusion — and volunteerism in Parliament.
She is also an impact entrepreneur/investor and a passionate mental health advocate, especially in workplace wellbeing. She started WorkWell Leaders Workgroup in May 2018 to bring together top leaders (CXOs, Heads of HR/CSR/D&I) of top employers in Singapore (both public and private) to share, discuss and co-create inclusive practices to promote workplace wellbeing. Anthea is also the founder of Hush TeaBar, Singapore’s 1st silent teabar and a social movement that aims to bring silence, self care and social inclusion into every workplace, every community — with a cup of tea. The Hush Experience is completely led by lovingly-trained Deaf facilitators, supported by a team of Persons with Mental Health Issues (PMHIs).
Follow Anthea Ong on her public page at www.facebook.com/antheaonglaytheng