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Singapore revenue law proves a challenge

Date: 14 Dec 2017

Bumblebee Design

Singapore-based Joanna Yap, partner at Withers KhattarWong, tells Citywealth about trends in the Asian private client industry and her client who wanted to leave trust assets to a long-lost child put up for adoption two decades earlier.

 

Tell me about your role at Withers Khattarwong.

I am a partner within the tax and private client team. I advise corporations, fiduciaries, families and individuals on Singapore revenue law and various private client matters, including succession planning, immigration, probate and administration. I also represent clients in their tax disputes and dealings with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.
 

How has the private client industry changed?

Compared to ten years ago there are now increased regulations and tax transparency requirements. As governments continue enacting rules to protect their revenue bases, and with the exchange of information regime going into full swing shortly, there is greater demand for certainty on the application and interpretation of these rules.
 

Tell us about an interesting client instruction.

I had a client who wanted to set up a trust and give a significant portion of the trust assets to a child whom the family had given up for adoption over twenty years earlier because of the financial hardship they had then experienced. The client wasn’t in contact with the child and wanted the trustees to be tasked with locating and contacting the child.
 

What are the main challenges your clients face?

Private clients, in particular, are looking for customised legal solutions aligned with their business and personal aspirations. Clients also need legal advice on Singapore revenue law.

Tell me about an achievement you are most proud of?
 

Winning the first Singapore case representing the trustees of a charity on additional buyers’ stamp duty was the most significant milestone in my professional working life.
 

What trends do you see in the private wealth industry?

Asian clients are increasingly open to the idea of succession planning and the need to work with independent professionals who understand the requirements of or are aligned with the families.
 

What do you do to unwind?      

I explore the world and love photography.