T he Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) is the main tax administrator to the Government. IRAS collects taxes that account for more than 70 per cent of the Government’s Operating Revenue. This supports the Government’s economic and social programmes to achieve quality growth and an inclusive society. IRAS also represents the Government in tax treaty negotiations, drafts tax legislations and provides advice on property valuation to the Government.
We are most delighted in having two scholars, Tan Jia Hui, current Bachelor of Science student at UK’s University College London, and Gordon Cheong, Senior Tax Officer at IRAS’ Corporate Tax Division. Both share about what drew them to their respective scholarships, and the opportunities they are currently receiving as IRAS Scholars.
That Spark of Interest
Both had different takes on what got them started on their journey with IRAS. Jia Hui shared that it was during an exchange trip to Shanghai that led her to explore the world of taxation. In conducting interviews with university professors and having surveyed people in the streets, she got drawn to taxation policies and its intricacies. “It wasn’t the common notion of bland or monotonic work,” says Jia Hui of tax work and regimes. She returned to Singapore with a strong conviction to further her interest in tax with an IRAS Overseas Scholarship.
On the other hand, Gordon’s interest was roused by his professors in Singapore Management University (SMU). He understood that limitless growth and the opportunity to serve the public was his calling. IRAS was just the only organisation that could offer a career in tax administration, with boundless opportunities to grow and serve the public.
Tan Jia Hui
IRAS Overseas Scholar
Gordon is realising his dreams with the Corporate Tax Division as a Senior Tax Officer, after graduating with a Bachelor of Accountancy and Business. He shares, “As an officer in the Corporate Tax Division – Large Corporation Branch, I am exposed to the tax matters of the largest corporations in Singapore. Currently, I serve corporations in the financial sector. I address and clarify tax issues, finalise assessments, facilitate their operational needs and engage them on a continual basis. I also have the opportunity to work with the biggest tax agents in Singapore in my day-to-day work.”
In pursuing his love to serve, Gordon was also serving the Inland Revenue Recreation Club as the Honorary Community Involvement Secretary. Part of IRAS, this platform allowed Gordon and other IRAS staff to contribute their good will for the community, bringing smiles to the beneficiaries. He was also involved in the President’s Challenge and many other community driven events such as quarterly blood donation campaigns, volunteer work at elderly nursing homes and engagements with less privileged children.
On her end, Jia Hui’s overseas scholarship has seen her receive a plethora of unique opportunities. The diverse nature of her education experience has exposed her to a range of thinking styles and perspectives. She participated in the UCL Global Citizenship Programme during her first year in summer, a two-week programme held in an informal settlement in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She shares, “I was involved in a process of negotiation and built strategic alliances. The entire programme sharpened my negotiation and communication skills, and strengthened my ability to understand and balance different stakeholder perspectives. These are critical transferable skills to any workplace.”
She has also undergone an internship with IRAS in the Taxpayer Services Management Unit. It was then that she was involved in an ongoing project to revamp the IRAS website, as well as offer her inputs into improving the staff rewards scheme. She tells us, “It was humbling to experience the emphasis IRAS places on service excellence to both internal and external customers. IRAS strives to make the taxpayer experience as desirable as possible.”
Cheong Wang Shen Gordon
IRAS Mid-Term Scholar
Senior Tax Officer (Corporate Tax- Large Corporations),
Corporate Tax Division
Nurturing its Scholars
IRAS is always open and ready to groom its talents. It encourages scholars to explore opportunities in pursuit of their personal growth. With that view, Jia Hui was very grateful for the chance to attend a two-month long Summer Session in the US’ Stanford University California. This allowed her to immerse in the US bay-area culture, allowing her the chance to expand her horizons beyond London. She was also quick to add that “IRAS has been supportive of my module choices which enhance my knowledge and hone my skills.”
Gordon is very happy to benefit from a comprehensive system of mentorship, which has aided him in his career with IRAS. Apart from having a corporate culture that encourages teamwork, IRAS has “supervisors who are welcoming and support every staff with the best of their qualities”, he shares.
Word of Advice
The advice from Gordon to aspiring IRAS scholars is to “think thoroughly through your career choices before applying for a scholarship. In addition, it is important to look beyond merely securing the scholarship. Possess the commitment to serve the public and give back to the community. IRAS as a public service organisation is about enabling its staff to provide excellent service to the government and the citizens.”
Jia Hui agrees with Gordon, concluding, “It is important to have a willingness to learn, to be proactive in grasping opportunities, and to seek with courage.” These are definitely essential traits of IRAS officers, in order for them to serve Singapore and ensure IRAS’s future growth.