Sunday 13 November 2011

GST refunds for tourists made easy (eTRS)

New electronic system reduces hassle for GST refunds
Shuli Sudderuddin, The Straits Times, 10 Nov 2011 

Tourists in Singapore can now claim their good and services tax (GST) refunds in as little as five minutes, compared to the usual 20.

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore together with financial services company Global Blue, launched the world's first Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS) on Wednesday.

The paper-based refund system, which some retailers still use, requires tourists to fill in application forms, submit the forms to Singapore Customs, get them stamped and then queue at different counters to claim the cash refund.

The eTRS scans receipts at the point of sale, and captures and tags the information to the credit card of the tourist. At the airport, tourists merely need to swipe their passports and credit cards at the eTRS kiosks and decide on a cash or credit card refund.

Speaking at the launch, Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo said the convenient process will benefit many tourists and retailers, especially since Singapore hosted a record 11.6 million tourists last year, who spent a record $18.8 billion and claimed $175 million in tourist GST refunds.

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