Dear Friends and Business Associates,
It was reported in IRAS’ website on 15 May 2012 that a property agent was jailed 12 weeks after he pleaded guilty to five charges involving the use of counterfeit stamp certificates. Another three charges were taken into consideration for sentencing. This is the first case in which a property agent was charged under the Stamp Duties Act for passing counterfeit stamp “certificates” off as genuine.
The property agent cheated the Commissioner of Stamp Duties of S$3,694 using 8 counterfeit stamp “certificates” in 7 property rental transactions. What happened was that he forged 8 stamp certificates by altering property details such as the addresses, names of the landlords and tenants, stamp duty amounts, stamp certificate issued dates, and dates of documents based on a genuine stamp certificate obtained from a property transaction he handled in January 2011. He used these 8 counterfeit stamp “certificates” for 7 rental transactions he handled by presenting the counterfeit stamp “certificates” to the landlords, agents of the landlords and tenants of the properties. They were unaware that this property agent had not stamped the tenancy agreements and the stamp “certificates” they received were fake. The tenants were also ignorant of the fact that this property agent did not pay over to the Commissioner of Stamp Duties the stamp duties they had paid to him.
Although the property agent deleted the original and counterfeit stamp certificates, IRAS was able to leverage on its forensic capabilities and tools to successfully recover these “certificates” from his desktop computer and laptop.
What does this mean to you if you are property agent?
IRAS takes a very serious view of non-stamping and stamp duty fraud. Any individual or business that deliberately counterfeits stamp certificates and knowingly misrepresents that such counterfeit stamp “certificates” are “genuine” will have to face penalties of up to S$10,000 and/or up to three years’ imprisonment. Stiff penalties of up to four times the stamp duty may also be imposed for late or non-stamping of documents.
You should be aware that stamp duty is a tax payable on documents or agreements relating to properties, such as tenancy or lease agreements, Option To Purchase, and sale and purchase agreements. Upon payment of stamp duty, a stamp certificate will be issued to certify that a certain amount of stamp duty has been paid relating to the particular document or agreement.
The public is able to go to the e-Stamping website https://estamping.iras.gov.sg (“Stamp Duty Resource” > “Check Stamp Certificate Authenticity”) to check on the authenticity of the stamp certificates in their possession. If the stamp certificates are authentic, the full details of the stamp duty payment, including the document description, property address, stamp duty amount and the date of document will match those shown on the website. If no details can be found on the website, or if there are discrepancies in the details, please contact IRAS to have the authenticity of the stamp certificate verified.
If you have any questions or comments on this alert, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jack HM Wong, FCPA Singapore
Accredited Tax Advisors (Income Tax and GST)
Founder and Lead Business & Tax Advisor
WHM Consulting Pte Ltd
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