20151201 HDB flat ‘owners’ should not pay property tax, property belongs to state

I refer to CNA article “Most home owners to pay less property tax next year”.

According to the article, HDB flat ‘owners’ will be able to save between 9% and 24% a year. The numbers may seem big but this translates into savings of between $1.60 and $16.80 a year/13 cents and $1.40 per month. Hardly anything to shout about, much less newsworthy.

Image source: CNA

The problem with the article is HDB buyers are not owners. To confirm this, go take a look at your legal document and you will discover that you signed on it as “lessees” ….

and HDB is the lessor.

HDB ‘owners’ should never have paid taxes on property belonging to the state in the first place. What the PAP has done is legally convert our status as ‘lessees’ to ‘owners’ at the stroke of a pen. On top of being forced to pay property tax, we are also required to contribute to a sinking fund for long-term maintenance of assets which continue to belong to the government.

The government is the true owner of HDB flats and this is evidenced by its ability to suka suka amend HDB rules. If HDB flats really belong to us, there would be no need to notify HDB on renting out vacant rooms, working overseas, etc. Most Singaporeans have mistaken the little flexibility given by HDB as ownership.

If the legal document is to be trusted, PAP should not continue to confuse Singaporeans by using ‘lessees’ and ‘owners’ interchangeably.

Redefining ‘lessees’ as ‘owners’ has been a convenient way for PAP to maintain control over many aspects of housing while trumpeting to the world our unbelievably-high home ownership rate. This is wrong.

Singaporeans living in public housing should be paying zero property tax. Why should we pay taxes on a property which does not belong to us but to the state?

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5 Responses to 20151201 HDB flat ‘owners’ should not pay property tax, property belongs to state

  1. abc says:

    Yeah this has been brought up on & off over the past 30 years. The issue intensified during GE2011 but then died down after that.

    Legally, buyers of HDB are always stated as LESSEE in all legal documents, be it Agreement For Lease or Deed Of Assignment or any other instrument pertaining to HDB flats. It doesn’t matter if PAP ministers keep on saying “owner” for 100 years or how many hundreds of pages Straits Times print “owner”. Zhui kong lampar song only. When go to court, the judge and lawyers will address you as LESSEE, and your status as lessee will be imprinted in all court documents for all generations to see.

    PAP loves to play with words as long they are not legally binding.

    Yes, HDB buyers have leasehold ownership of their pigeon holes — but ONLY their pigeon holes. HDB buyers DON’T have any ownership in the land their HDB block sits on. This is why HDB/govt as true owner of the land, is able to tell you how to live & how to behave in your HDB pigeon hole.

    True property owners such as condos and landed properties own the land together with their condo unit or house. Condo owners own a “share” of the land (i.e. strata). This crucial distinction makes all the difference whether you are a true owner of actual property.

    And speaking of property tax, in the rest of the world, this tax applies to ownership of LAND. But in S’pore, PAP has bastardised this tax to extract money from 80% of Sinkies who don’t even own 1 square centimetre of land.

    BTW, the lowering of property tax is mainly due to the drop in rental market over the past 1 year. Private property will also have lower tax. So is nothing special.

  2. The says:

    Similarly, those who buy 99-year leasehold private properties also don’t have to pay property tax, since they don’t own the properties.

  3. abc says:

    HDB 99-yr is very different from pte pty 99-yr. This is something that most people don’t understand.

    Those who buy 99-yr LH pte properties are still true owners of land, albeit only for 99 yrs. During this 99 yrs, owners are free to do pretty much anything, subject to land use zoning and build-up density (which determines how many storeys etc). They can rent out from day 1, sub-sale if they want, run a company w/o having to seek permission (as long not noisy, no pollution, no overcrowding, etc), build a 3m high wall around the estate, hire Cisco guards with submachine guns, dig extra swimming pool if got space, enbloc whenever they feel is a good time. Banks gladly accept 99-yr condo as collateral if you want to borrow money (as long still got over 60+ yrs left on the lease).

    HDB 99-yr refers ONLY to your concrete pigeon hole. That’s it. HDB/govt still owns the LAND and retain the right to dictate rules to you, and the right to compulsorily acquire your flat if you break certain rules, and to compulsorily declare SERS on your block whether you like or not. HDB/govt has the right to convert your void deck or carpark into RC or elderly daycare or noisy kid daycare whether you like or not. HDB/govt has the right to build temple, mosque, church, columbarium next to your HDB block, whether you like or not. Banks will not accept HDB flats as collateral even if the HDB flat is brand new only 1 day old. That’s the practical real value of HDB flat.

    “The says:
    December 1, 2015 at 2:01 pm
    Similarly, those who buy 99-year leasehold private properties also don’t have to pay property tax, since they don’t own the properties.”

  4. James says:

    Why are we paying electricity and water bill since we are not the owner? Damn..

  5. terrytks says:

    Rented a 5-room HDB before. Pay electricity, water on top of rent. When SP gave rebate on the bill that year as part of GST rebate landlord pocket it . When I asked for it, he adamantly refused. landlord greedy like the govt. which sets bad example of unfair practice.

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