B y handling personal and private domestic taxes, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) represents our Government domestically and internationally in tax-related negotiations. In addition, IRAS drafts legislations and acts as an advisor on property valuation. Taxes collected by IRAS account for 75 per cent of the Government’s operating costs, which is judicially used to foster nation-building and economic development programmes.
We speak with two IRAS scholars who have each taken different educational and scholarship paths to champion IRAS’ mission.
Not Just a Scholarship
A fascination with real estate and taxes led Muhammad Noor Danial Bin Noorrashid to the IRAS Mid-Term Scholarship, during his third year in university.
He now holds the post of Valuer at IRAS’ Property Tax Division.
IRAS Overseas Undergraduate Scholarship
Bachelor of Science (Economics) student at the London School of Economics and Political Science
His interest in real estate was sparked during his Junior College days while researching on the 2008 financial crisis for his general paper essay. “I was trying to understand the crux of the financial crisis, and found out that it was due to the general misconception of real estate. Through the research I conducted, I found real estate to be multi-faceted and knew it was a discipline I wished to pursue further,” he shares.
Danial then went on to pursue a double degree in real estate and business administration at the National University of Singapore (NUS). The inspiring lectures given by an NUS professor during a tax module ignited his interest in taxes and the IRAS.
“I realised that many of my professors had started their career at IRAS. From there, I explored the organisation and the mid-term scholarship it offered. I found it to be a good organisation for me to be in, as it offered enticing career opportunities and has core values aligned with mine,” he says.
According to Danial, a mid-term scholarship as opposed to a full-term one gave him the opportunity to experience his degree’s curriculum and be sure of his choice of career path before committing to a scholarship.
A Balance of Interest and Work Ethics
Similar to Danial, Li Qiaoxi, a current economics undergraduate at the London School of Economics (LSE), felt that IRAS stood out as an organisation that could help her grow professionally. “The constant innovations in the area of tax and our efficient tax system appealed to me. Moreover, IRAS’ work ethics and values resonated with me, which further assured me that this is an organisation I want to be a part of,” she says.
To Qiaoxi, pursuing economics as a major serves as a tool to help her understand how the world works and functions as a whole. On her decision to pursue her studies abroad, she shares, “LSE offered a more focused and comprehensive economics programme and exposes students to world issues, through its frequent public lectures which span across disciplines,” she shares.
Muhammad Noor Danial Bin Noorrashid
IRAS Mid-Term Scholar
Valuer, Property Tax Division
Even before formally joining IRAS, both scholars had the opportunity to network at formal IRAS events, and be exposed to the IRAS culture. Danial shares, “One of the events I had previously attended was a scholars gathering, where I was introduced to scholars who have started work and interacted with the senior management. These events give you a glimpse into the culture of IRAS and you get a better understanding of what your career entails.”
As for Qiaoxi, she had her first-hand experience with IRAS’ culture during an internship at the Taxpayer Services Management Unit. While she was there, she was involved in innovative reviews, aimed at improving taxpayer compliance and service excellence. “It was an eye-opening experience to see how Singapore’s tax system is being run and how motivated IRAS’ staff are about improving it further,” she says.
Wise Words of Advice
Both Danial and Qiaoxi have similar advice for those looking at scholarship options. “You need to have a good understanding of your personal values and aspirations. A lot of things can change during your course of study. A thorough understanding of your passion can give you that much needed push to your goal. Lastly, ensure that the organisation’s vision and values are a good match with yours before making the final decision,” says Danial.
Adding on to Danial’s advice, Qiaoxi says, “The culture of the scholarship organisation is very important as you will be working there for at least four to six years. From the interviews and interactions with the organisation, try to get a feel of how it is like to work there and see if it is a good fit with your personality.”