Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS)
Features | Public Service

Shaping Singapore’s Economy

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) is a fiscal agent of the Government which assesses, collects and enforces the payment of taxes to fund our Government’s operations. Two IRAS Scholars share their experiences in helping to achieve this mission.

As  a statutory board under the Ministry of Finance, IRAS both advises the Government and represents Singapore on the international stage in tax-related affairs that ensure essential nation-building and economic development.

Within the progressive tax system in Singapore, the Individual Income Tax system is tailored to ensure a fair level of taxation for all Singaporeans, especially for individuals with more modest income levels.

Janice Lim, IRAS Merit Undergraduate Scholar, sees herself performing a critical role to help Singaporeans see the importance of complying with their tax obligations as Senior Tax Ruling Officer in the Individual Income Tax Division.

She reviews existing tax rules and policies to ensure they remain relevant in changing times, while also working to simplify them and better educate taxpayers on the system. In addition, she provides clarifications on various tax treatments and advises taxpayers on how to comply with these rules.

The 25-year-old believes that empathy is key to helping taxpayers comply with their tax obligations and understand their relevance. She adds, “If taxpayers find our tax rules unnecessarily complex or obsolete, it’s important to take this valuable feedback into careful consideration as it would help us to fine-tune for more straightforward and relevant rules in the future.”

Sparking their interests

Janice admits that before entering Junior College, her understanding of tax was superficial at best, adding, “I simply knew that taxation was an important policy tool in shaping our economy, but had no knowledge on how it was administered in practice.

Desiree Sim Wei Yen
IRAS Overseas Undergraduate Scholar

Studied: Bachelor of Laws, First-Class Honours,
London School of Economics &
Political Science, UK

Studying: Master of Laws in International Taxation,
New York University, US

“My Economics lessons sparked my curiosity to learn more about taxes and IRAS’ role in shaping the economy. The fruitful interactions I was privileged to have with IRAS’ HR officers was the defining factor in applying for the IRAS Merit Undergraduate Scholarship (on the BrightSparks portal) as I gained first-hand information and insights about IRAS.

“To me, IRAS is an excellent choice for a challenging yet rewarding career – especially when I consider the prospect of having a hand in shaping our economic landscape and influencing our national development.”

Like Janice, 23-year-old Desiree Sim also gained an appreciation for taxation through her Economics curriculum. This spurred her to apply for a five-month internship with IRAS’ Individual Income Tax Division, where she first learnt about the IRAS Overseas Undergraduate Scholarship.

And after she secured a place in a Bachelor of Laws programme, her fascination with Economics drove her to apply for the scholarship as it presented the perfect opportunity for her to meld her interests in both Law and Economics. Desiree is now pursuing the Master of International Taxation at New York University and is excited to contribute to IRAS’ mission upon her graduation.

Investing in its people

IRAS provides both Janice and Desiree with the best support to help them grow both personally and professionally. For Janice, a 10- week internship with IRAS’ Taxpayer Services Management Unit gave her valuable first-hand experience on the organisation’s dedication to providing quality service and self-directed learning.

Janice appreciates how working on cross-divisional projects has trained her to appreciate and adapt to diverse business considerations, and be more empathetic towards different stakeholders' interests. These form an aspect of critical project management skills.

On Desiree's part, she is thankful for being able to meet an understanding and efficient HR officer from IRAS while doing a thesis on the evolution of Singapore’s international tax policy in her final year of studies in the UK.

This encounter still resonates deeply with her. Desiree elaborates, “Literature on pre-independence Singapore was limited and I sent the HR officer an emergency ‘SOS’ email to request for a recent IRAS publication (in commemoration of its 60-year anniversary administering tax in Singapore). Much to my gratitude, she managed to secure a copy in an instant and send it via express mail within a week!”

Desiree also worked on a policy paper during her second year of undergraduate studies that opened her eyes to the rigour and extensiveness of formulating policies, and this gave her valuable insights that will give her a stronger foothold in her future career responsibilities.

Janice Lim Wei Jie
IRAS Merit Undergraduate Scholar

Designation: Senior Tax Ruling Officer
(Individual Income Tax Division)

Studied: Bachelor of Business Administration,
First-Class Honours,
National University of Singapore

"To me, IRAS is an excellent choice for a challenging yet rewarding career – especially when I consider the prospect of having a hand in shaping our economic landscape and influencing our national development."

The IRAS family

In addition to the learning opportunities, both scholars also greatly benefit from the guidance and wisdom of their mentors as part of IRAS’ scholarship mentorship programme.

In fact, IRAS staff fondly refers to the community as the 'IRAS Family'. This title has lived up to its meaning on multiple occasions – Janice and Desiree both speak glowingly on the warm working environment at IRAS where everyone encourages one another to grow and the staff-bonding activities that have forged meaningful friendships for both ladies and their co-workers.

IRAS also organises community-based activities and Janice has had a role in organising many as a member of the Inland Revenue Recreation Club’s committee. She tells us, “I was certainly privileged to work with different beneficiaries from all walks of life. There were many fond memories created and the most heart-warming moment was watching our activities bring huge smiles to our beneficiaries' faces!”

Desiree is certainly thrilled to be joining Janice as the latest member of this dynamic family in the near future. She shares, “There definitely isn’t a more apt label than 'IRAS Family' to describe the familial feel of the environment at IRAS!

For those looking to join the IRAS Family, be sincere and frank about your intentions and expectations of the IRAS scholarship. It will help you grow beyond your expectations if you keep an open-mind and if you want a part in building our economy and our nation!”

Janice agrees, adding, “Read up to get an understanding of IRAS (its values, functions and what a career there entails) and what you can offer the organisation. The IRAS scholarship should not solely be seen as a source of financial support for academic pursuit, but rather as a gateway to a rewarding career!”