The value of taxation is both tangible and intangible in boosting the health and vibrancy of a nation’s economy, ensuring social and economic stability. Hence, the work and purpose of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) is undertaken by only the passionate and committed whom the organsation nurtures and empowers.
Ai Wei, 28, Manager at the Valuation and Stamp Duty Branch, and Xiu Hui, 25, Senior Taxpayer Services Officer, walk us through how IRAS has given them dynamic and challenging career opportunities to progress in their roles and responsibilities, so they may serve Singaporeans in ways that are most effective and efficient.
How did you arrive at your decision to pursue a scholarship with IRAS?
Ai Wei: The decision to apply for a scholarship was a natural one as I felt tax policies are crucial for shaping the economy of a country and IRAS has a prominent role in advising the government. When I realised how my future colleagues were of the same frequency over a tea season event, I decided to apply for the scholarship and support Singapore to move towards progress.
Xiu Hui: It was about building a career that was not just about monetary benefits but also involved making a meaningful impact on the general population. I, too, felt the organisation’s core values and work ethics resonated with mine. Similarly, I was impressed with how everyone I had met were approachable and friendly during the application process.
Fung Ai Wei
Valuation and Stamp Duty Branch
IRAS Overseas Undergraduate Scholarship
Bachelor of Science (Mathematics & Economics)
London School of Economics & Political Science
What do you find fulfilling about your roles and responsibilities?
Ai Wei: Currently as Manager at the Valuation and Stamp Duty Branch, which comes under the Property Tax Division, my responsibilities include overseeing three different teams - Customer Service, Appeals, and System. I enjoy my role of leading transformation and influencing people to prepare for digitalisation to help ensure Singapore is more future-ready. My work allows me to value-add through the collaboration between my teams to produce better outcomes. For instance, when Customer Service provides adequate advice, the citizen would have better understanding and consequently expectations of the Appeals process.
Xiu Hui: Presently, I am a Senior Taxpayer Services Officer with the Taxpayer Services and Strategy Branch. I am responsible for developing service policies and innovations in IRAS which involve preparing monthly reports to ensure service standards across all channels of the IRAS are being complied with. I analyse framework reviews for details about compliance and service strategies as well. It is about better seamlessly serving taxpayers through technology.
To maintain Singapore’s competitive position as an international financial hotbed, what technologies or processes does IRAS employ to be innovative and future-ready?
Ai Wei: I will illustrate an example. The stamp duty digitalisation has allowed cases to be managed via the system, and future references can be accessible from it. This means officers no longer need to search for past records manually, cutting down on paperwork and the time involved.
Xiu Hui: IRAS invests time and effort into developing technology that automates manual tasks, for instance through the implementation of livebot Jamie the Budget Assistant, and live chats. However, what is noteworthy is IRAS’ Robotic Process Automation (RPA), which is able to automate rule-based tasks and cut down on the need for manual effort.
Ho Xiu Hui
Senior Taxpayer Services Officer
Taxpayer Services and Strategy Branch
IRAS Merit Undergraduate Scholarship
Bachelor of Business Administration
National University of Singapore
In your department’s plans and projects, how does it strive to deepen partnership with the community?
Ai Wei: I believe that developing a solid engagement strategy is the key to deepening bonds with the community. My department is focusing on education, consultation, bi-lateral dialogues, and partnership. Education is about raising awareness among taxpayers and intermediaries like law firms and domestic agents, while consultation is getting feedback and using the input for future enhancement. Bi-lateral discussions with key stakeholders is critical too, for a better understanding about the industry and coming up with advanced strategic initiatives that pave the way for digitalisation. Partnership with government agencies like Housing & Development Board can improve processes so taxpayers are offered seamless transactions.
Xiu Hui: Although I am not directly involved in community interaction, I am part of a team that conducts a taxpayer survey once every couple of years. The survey gathers feedback regarding the department’s processes and services, which aids us to identify the areas where we are performing well and what else can be improved.
How have the progression and development tracks in IRAS benefitted your career, or will do so?
Ai Wei: First of all, they gave me the breadth with job rotations among different teams. For example, I have done customer service, accounts management, and assessments. Subsequently, after Corporate Tax, I moved to Property Tax division where I started handling Stamp Duty, and was also involved in policy review.
This breadth in technical work and hands-on roles sharpened my analytical thinking skills which prepared me for the managerial role, and I hope to continue moving on this track.
Xiu Hui: As Ai Wei laid out, IRAS is an organisation with different divisions and offers varied rotations. I look forward to gaining diverse experiences with job rotations, and build up my skillsets. I view IRAS as one that promotes a progressive and diverse work environment that presents excellent learning opportunities.
What is your advice for aspiring scholars planning to apply for this particular scholarship?
Ai Wei: Take the time to find out what IRAS does, interact with people who already work there to learn about culture, development, and initiatives to determine if this is an organisation you wish to join.
Xiu Hui: To add on, budding scholars should look for an employer which offers alignment with their personal values and what they believe in. I encourage them to keep an open mind for opportunities within IRAS as well.