Foo Mee Har: 'Not unreasonable' to tax those who profit exceptionally from Covid-19 pandemic

She said that a one-off wealth tax may be "economically efficient" when it is taken as a response to the pandemic.

Joshua Lee | February 25, 2021, 04:16 PM

It may be "economically efficient" for the rich in Singapore to contribute a wealth tax as a "one-off exceptional" response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

This was tabled by Member of Parliament for West Coast GRC Foo Mee Har, who spoke in Parliament on Thursday (Feb. 24) in the Budget debates.

Foo said that the trend of getting the wealthy to contribute more is "gaining traction globally", highlighting economies like Argentina (where a one-time levy on millionaires was imposed in 2020) and the UK.

Under Argentina's "millionaire tax", those with more than 200 million pesos (S$5.4million) — estimated to be about 12,000 people — will have to pay a progressive tax rate of up to 3.5 per cent on their wealth in Argentina and up to 5.25 per cent on that outside the country.

In the UK, one-off windfall taxes were introduced before, like in 1997, a time when state-owned assets were privatised at prices many considered too low.

Foo noted, therefore, that a new construct of a tax that extracts higher revenues from businesses that managed to exploit the effects of the pandemic to their advantage, has emerged.

"Sir, when you consider that selected entities or individuals may have enjoyed outsized windfalls because of COVID-19, it may not be unreasonable to expect that they do more for the common good. I would like to ask the government if Wealth Tax is being contemplated and what the considerations for such a tax would be?"

Separately, she affirmed the government's move to extend the GST to cross-border e-commerce transactions of lower value goods, and asked how much revenue this tax is expected to raise.

Wealth taxes are kind of a pet topic for Foo, who has spoken on the topic in Parliament previously as well.

Top images via and Foo Mee Har/Facebook