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SIRS Singapore: Are You Eligible to Apply? Find Out Here

Three payouts of $3,000: that's what self-employed persons in Singapore can get under SIRS—provided that they qualify.

SIRS application page

Getting $9,000 in cash from the government: who wouldn’t say no to that?

That’s what SIRS, or the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme, is offering to help self-employed persons tide through the COVID-19 pandemic.

And given the size of the payout, it’s no surprise that tons of people are keen to get their hands on it!

In this guide to SIRS, you’ll learn:

  • Who is eligible for SIRS
  • How to apply for SIRS
  • Common mistakes to avoid when applying for SIRS

And more.

Let’s get started with SIRS!

Contents Menu

What is SIRS?

SIRS is a COVID-19 government support scheme for self-employed persons in Singapore. It stands for the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme.

SIRS provides eligible self-employed persons with three payouts of $3,000 each. Each payout is made every quarter from end-May, end-July and end-October 2020 onwards.

Doing some quick math, that’s a total payout of $9,000! Which is why many people have been eager to try and get hold of this moolah.

But can they?

Heads-up: SIRS will be ending on 31 December 2020.

Eligibility Criteria for SIRS

To receive the SIRS payouts, you’ll have to meet these eligibility criteria:

RequirementExplanation
You started work as a self-employed person on or before 25 March 2020A self-employed person is someone who has declared Net Trade Income:

  • To the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) when filing their personal income taxes, or
  • To the Central Provident Fund Board (CPF Board) for the purposes of making CPF contributions as a self-employed person, or
  • For the purposes of the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) scheme.

For more information, check out our guide on how to register yourself as a self-employed person in Singapore.

You earn a Net Trade Income of not more than $100,000Net Trade Income refers to your “gross trade income minus all allowable business expenses, capital allowances and trade losses as determined by IRAS”.

It does NOT refer to income you make as a full-time/part-time employee of a company. (That’s considered employment income instead.)

If you are both a self-employed person (i.e. you work for yourself) and an employee (i.e. you work for a company under an employment contract), the income you make as an employee cannot exceed $2,300 per monthYou may be working for a company as an employee, instead of working with the company as a self-employed person, if:

  • You had signed an employment contract with the company
  • Your boss dictates what work you have to do, and your work hours
  • Your boss provides you with the equipment you need to do your work
You (and your spouse, if you are married) do not own more than one propertyIf you don’t own any property, e.g. you are renting a property to live in, it is still possible for you to qualify for SIRS.

However, you will still have to meet the Annual Value for property requirement (see next point).

The property you live in must not have an Annual Value (AV) greater than $21,000

To check your property’s Annual Value, log into the IRAS myTax Portal > Property > View Property Dashboard.

As a general guide, all public housing (e.g. HDB flats) have Annual Values of up to $13,000, while the Annual Values of most condominiums outside prime areas do not exceed $21,000.

If you have rented a place for living in, you can check the Annual Value of the property by using IRAS’ Check Annual Value of Property e-service. A $2.50 fee will apply.

(If you have rented a place for living in, you should also submit your annual rental contract together with your SIRS application. The Annual Value threshold of the property will then be pegged against your annual rental cost.)

If you are married, the Assessable Income of your spouse cannot exceed $70,000“Assessable income” refers to your total income after deducting allowable expenses and approved donations.

Now, this next part is a bit tricky:

If you HAVE met all of the above eligibility criteria, you will need to apply for SIRS if you DON’T meet these extra two criteria:

  1. You are 37 years old or older as of 31 December 2020; and
  2. You had declared Net Trade Income to IRAS or the CPF Board for Work Year 2018.

P.S. Don’t know how to declare Net Trade Income?

How to declare Net Trade Income and register as a self-employed person in Singapore

Download my free guide on how to do so! Just let me know which email address I should send it to.

On the other hand, if you meet all the above eligibility criteria AND the two extra criteria stated above, you automatically qualify for SIRS.

This means you don’t need to apply for SIRS to get the payouts. All you have to do is to sit back and wait to receive them.

(The government will have notified you via letter and SMS if you automatically qualify for SIRS. If you didn’t receive this notification, you’ll have to apply for SIRS.)

Alternatively, if you have marginally missed one of the above eligibility criteria in the table above, and are facing difficult circumstances, don’t despair just yet!

You can still try to apply for the SIRS payouts. Here’s how.

How to Apply for SIRS

Heads-up: SIRS will be ending on 31 December 2020.

1. Prepare your supporting documents

Before you apply for SIRS, get ready to provide the following:

  • Your bank account number (the payouts will be deposited into this bank account)
  • The Annual Value of your property (learn how to check your property’s Annual Value above)
  • Your income documents, with your name and Net Trade Income clearly visible

The type of income documents you’ll need to submit depends on:

  • When you became a self-employed person, and
  • How much Net Trade Income you made in Work Years 2018 and 2019.

Here’s a summary:

If you became a self-employed person before 1 January 2020
Your annual Net Trade Income for Work Years 2018 and 2019 was less than $6,000 per yearIncome documents to submit:

  • A copy of the acknowledgement form obtained after submitting the IRAS Form 144 for Work Years 2018 and 2019
  • Proof of self-employed income from January to March 2020 (e.g. your contracts or invoices with clients)—combined into one document
  • (If you are married) Your spouse’s IRAS Notice of Assessment / Consolidated Statement Form B/B1 for Work Year 2019; AND proof of your spouse’s income from January to March 2020
  • (If you were also an employee) Proof of employment income from January to March 2020 (e.g. salary payslips)
  • Other supporting documents to show financial hardship
Your annual Net Trade Income for Work Years 2018 and 2019 was $6,000 and above per yearIncome documents to submit:

  • A copy of your IRAS Notice of Assessment / Consolidated Statement Form B for Work Years 2018 and 2019
  • Proof of self-employed income from January to March 2020 (e.g. your contracts or invoices with clients)—combined into one document
  • (If you are married) Your spouse’s IRAS Notice of Assessment / Consolidated Statement Form B/B1 for Work Year 2019; AND proof of your spouse’s income from January to March 2020
  • (If you were also an employee) Proof of employment income from January to March 2020 (e.g. salary payslips)
  • Other supporting documents to show financial hardship
If you became a self-employed person between 1 January and 25 March 2020
Income documents to submit:

  • Proof of self-employed income from January to March 2020 (e.g. your contracts or invoices with clients)—combined into one document
  • (If you are married) Your spouse’s IRAS Notice of Assessment / Consolidated Statement Form B/B1 for Work Year 2019; AND proof of your spouse’s income from January to March 2020
  • (If you were also an employee) Proof of employment income from January to March 2020 (e.g. salary payslips)
  • Other supporting documents to show financial hardship

NTUC has a handy SIRS supporting documents checklist which you can download here.

2. Submit your application form and supporting documents

Gathered all your supporting documents? Great!

Go to this NTUC webpage to apply for SIRS: https://www.ntuc.com.sg/sirs/

Application page for the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS)

You will need to log in with your SingPass account, so create yours here if you don’t already have one.

Applications are accepted from 9am to 9pm daily, and there’s no fee to submit a SIRS application. Your application will take about 30 days to process.

Here are some tips for a successful SIRS application:

  • Use the Chrome browser to submit your application
  • Make sure the file sizes of your supporting documents each do not exceed 1MB
  • Keep the file names for these documents below 50 characters
  • Submit your application within 30 minutes of logging in with your SingPass

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for SIRS

A very common mistake that people have made when applying for SIRS is to have declared their self-employed income as employment income when filing their income taxes.

This is because self-employed income should be declared as trade income, not employment income.

As a result of this income misclassification, these people may have also over-declared their employment income to be more than $2,300/month—making them seem ineligible for SIRS.

If you have filed your income in the wrong category, don’t fret just yet!

When submitting your SIRS application, there will be an optional question on whether you have declared your income in the right category when filing your personal taxes.

"Have you declared your income in the right category in your IRAS Notice of Assessment Year 2019/2020?"

If you select “No”, then your income will be reclassified to the right category.

Just take note that this reclassification will cause your application to take an extra 3 to 4 weeks to process (instead of being processed within 30 days).

What Happens After You’ve Applied for SIRS

If you’ve submitted your SIRS application, great!

As mentioned above, your application will be processed within 30 days.

(Though it may take longer to process if more checks are needed, such as if your income needs to be reclassified.)

You will be notified of the application outcome after your application has been processed.

If your application is successful, you will receive an SMS when each payout is deposited into your bank account.

Appealing Your SIRS Application

On the other hand, if your SIRS application is unsuccessful, it means that you did not meet all the eligibility criteria for SIRS.

Unfortunately, NTUC will not tell you the exact reason why your application is unsuccessful. However, it has stated that the main reasons why SIRS applications are unsuccessful are because:

  • The applicant did not meet at least two of the eligibility criteria for SIRS
  • The applicant had missed one of the eligibility criteria by a wide margin (because to qualify for SIRS, you must have only marginally missed one of the eligibility criteria)
  • The applicant did not declare any net trade income (such income may have been misclassified as employment income)
  • The applicant’s employment income does not meet the criteria (e.g. the applicant is earning more than $2,300/month in employment income)
  • The applicant is not a self-employed person, based on their income declaration (e.g. the applicant has declared only employment income, and no trade income)
  • The applicant has misclassified their income, causing them to declare either no net trade income or an employment income that exceeds $2,300/month

If you did not meet the eligibility criteria for SIRS due to a mistake in your SIRS application, you can “appeal” by submitting another application for SIRS.

Like the first application, your re-application will take about 30 days to process.

And also like your first application, your re-application will be successful only if you meet the eligibility criteria for SIRS.

What to Do If You Need Help Applying for SIRS

Facing issues while applying for SIRS?

Here are some ways you can contact NTUC for help with your application:

  • Click on the SIRS Live Chat button to chat with the SIRS Virtual Assistant (see image below)
  • Call the SIRS hotline at 6713 5777
  • Email SIRS@ntuc.org.sg

How to declare Net Trade Income and register as a self-employed person in Singapore

These support lines operate on weekdays from 10am to 6pm, and on Saturday from 10am to 1pm. They are closed on Sundays and public holidays.

Frequently Asked Questions About SIRS

I do (insert type of work here). Am I eligible for SIRS?

To be eligible for SIRS, it’s not so important the exact kind of work that you do. You could be a freelance writer, musician or photographer and qualify for SIRS.

Instead, what really matters is whether you meet the eligibility criteria for SIRS as stated above.

For example, you must earn a Net Trade Income that doesn’t exceed $100,000, live in a property which has an Annual Value of up to $21,000 and so on.

On the other hand, if you do part-time or full-time work and earn employment income from such work, you are probably considered an employee instead of a self-employed person. If so, you will probably not be eligible for SIRS.

This is unless your employment income does not exceed $2,300/month, and you are able to fulfil the other eligibility criteria for SIRS as stated above.

I lost my job during the pandemic and started running my own business after that. Am I eligible for SIRS?

Only individuals who started work as a self-employed person on or before 25 March 2020 can qualify for SIRS.

So if you had started running your own business only after 25 March 2020, you are not eligible for SIRS.

I registered my business as a Pte Ltd company instead of a sole proprietorship. Am I eligible for SIRS?

No, you will not be eligible for SIRS. This is regardless of whether you are drawing director’s fees as a shareholder-director of the Pte Ltd company, or drawing employment income as an employee of the company (or both).

On the other hand, you may qualify for other COVID-19 support schemes, such as the Jobs Support Scheme.

I wrongly declared my Net Trade Income as employment income instead of trade income. How can I correct this?

When filing your SIRS application, you’ll have the option of redeclaring your income as Net Trade Income instead of employment income. Click here for more information on this.

I intend to apply for SIRS after May 2020, but the first payout will be made end-May 2020. Does that mean I won’t get all three payouts?

As long as you qualify for SIRS, you will receive all three payouts. This is even if you had submitted your application after May, July or October 2020 (which is when most of the payouts are scheduled to be made).

My SIRS payouts are not for the full $9,000. Why is this so?

This could be because you do not meet all the eligibility criteria for SIRS, but your application has still been approved for a lower payout amount in view of your current circumstances.

Do I need to pay income tax on the SIRS payouts?

If you’ve successfully applied for the SIRS payouts, you’ll be glad to know that you won’t have to pay income tax on them!

Other COVID-19 Support for Self-Employed Persons in Singapore

Apart from SIRS, there are also other support measures that self-employed persons can tap on to get through the current challenging times. This is especially if they are not eligible for SIRS.

These support measures include:

  • Cash grants
  • Extra training allowance and SkillsFuture Credits
  • Tax rebates and deferments

Read more about these in our article on COVID-19 support for freelancers and self-employed persons in Singapore.

Tan Siew Ann
I’m a freelance writer for some of the most amazing software businesses in the world. On this blog, I share tips on how you, too, can run a sustainable and meaningful freelance business. Let’s forge your freedom. 💪

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